New Acting VA Secretary Earned UMKC Graduate Degree

Sloan_GibsonSloan Gibson, appointed Acting Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday, received a Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1975, receiving both Airborne and Ranger qualifications, Gibson earned his master’s degree in 1979 at UMKC while stationed at Fort Leavenworth.

“I chose to get a graduate degree in economics purely out of intellectual curiosity,” Gibson told UMKC in 2011. “My time in class, studying and writing was a time of intense intellectual engagement for me, and it was a real source of fulfillment.”

Gibson, 61, had a 20-year banking career in Charlotte, Atlanta, Nashville and Birmingham, and worked with several nonprofits including chairing a United Way campaign in Central Alabama that raised more than $30 million. He earned a Masters in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Gibson became president and chief executive officer of the United Service Organizations (USO), the nonprofit organization that provides programs, services and entertainment to U.S. troops and their families. During his five years at the USO, net fundraising grew by 90 percent, funding an expansion of programs, according to Gibson’s bio on the VA website.

“We never want wounded warriors and their families — or families who’ve lost a loved one — to feel despair,” Gibson told UMKC in 2011. “We want them to feel hope.”

Last September, President Obama nominated Gibson Deputy VA Secretary, and the Senate confirmed that role in February, just weeks before allegations of long waits for care and doctors’ appointments at VA hospitals across the country led to mounting bipartisan calls for former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, which he did. Obama appointed Gibson.

“Sloan has 20 years of private sector and nonprofit experience that he brings to bear on our ongoing work to build a 21st century VA, and I’m grateful that he is willing to take on this task,” Obama said in a White House press briefing, and added that VA “reforms should not wait. They need to proceed immediately.”

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