Welcome to the “Alumni Spotlight” series. Learn how our Union Institute & University (UI&U) graduates are living the UI&U mission of engagement, enlightenment, and empowerment.
Featured this month: Robert W. McGee
Education: (Ph.D. 1993, Ph.D. 1986)
Profession: Associate professor
At the age of 72, Dr. McGee continues to pursue two different pathways: his prolific writing career and his medal-winning martial arts career. He has written 59 nonfiction books, five novels (and counting) and more than 700 scholarly articles. His latest is “Justifiable Homicide: A Political Thriller” available on Amazon.
In addition, he is a world champion in taekwondo, karate, and kung-fu, and a world silver medalist in tai chi. What’s even more amazing is he didn’t begin taekwondo training until the age of 65! He has been inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
Dr. McGee also teaches in the Broadwell College of Business and Economics at Fayetteville State University.
Robert W. McGee, age 72, with the six gold and one silver medal he won at the Taekwondo World Championship, July, 2019
His long list of academic achievements include 23 academic degrees, 13 earned doctorates including a law degree and CPA. He has lectured or worked in more than 30 countries. Former clients include United States Agency for International Development, World Bank, African Development Bank and the CIA. Several studies have ranked him No.1 in the world for both his accounting ethics and business ethics scholarship. The Social Science Research Network has ranked him as high as No. 2 in the world [All-Time] among accounting professors, No. 14 [All-Time] among business school professors, and No. 29 [All-Time] among all social scientists.
He credits much of his success to not wasting time, doing what he enjoys, relishing the creative process, and being competitive. Enjoy learning more about Dr. McGee as he reflects on his time at Union and expounds on his remarkable career in the Q & A below.
What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?
I am an accounting professor, so my Ph.D. with triple concentrations in accounting, taxation and economic history was very important because I needed a Ph.D. in accounting to remain in my teaching position. For my second Union Ph.D., which I completed a few years later, my concentrations were in economics, law, and political philosophy. That degree was important because I gained knowledge that I used to write some of the 59 nonfiction books, five novels and 700+ articles I have published.
What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?
What I like best about the Union program is that they allowed me to do it my way. I already knew what I wanted to research, and the way the Ph.D. program is structured, I was able to do the research I wanted to do instead of being pressured to do research on some topic my thesis supervisor wanted me to do, which is the way things work at many other universities.
Robert W. McGee at the All-Style World Championship Tournament in Dublin Ireland in 2017. He won three gold, two silver and one bronze medal at this world championship. The three gold medals were in taekwondo, kung-fu and karate. One of the silver medals was in tai chi. The other two medals were in mixed martial arts.
If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?
I would advise a Union student to plan ahead as much as possible before starting the program because doing so will shorten the length and cost of the program. Don’t be afraid to approach the best people in the field for guidance. I approached Milton Friedman, George Stigler and James Buchanan, all Nobel Prize winners in economics, and they all agreed to give me advice. Isaac Bashevis Singer, a Nobel Prize winner in literature, also guided me through my Union Ph.D. program shortly before his death. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?
It’s difficult to say what my greatest accomplishment is. Some people are impressed by the fact that I have earned 23 academic degrees, including 13 doctorates from universities in the United States and four European countries, all in my spare time, with the exception of my first bachelor’s degree, which I earned full-time while working one or two jobs. Other people are impressed that I was able to publish so many books and articles.
Because I was in the right place at the right time, I was placed in charge of assisting the Finance Ministries of Armenia and Bosnia convert their countries to International Financial Reporting Standards. I drafted the accounting law for Armenia and Bosnia and reviewed the accounting law for Mozambique. I also helped all the major universities in Armenia and Bosnia upgrade the accounting curriculum to meet international standards.
One of my favorite hobbies is competing in martial arts tournaments. I am a world champion in taekwondo, karate, and kung-fu, and a world silver medalist in tai chi. As of this interview, I have 11 world titles to my credit, and I continue to compete at the age of 72. My career gold medal count now stands at 289. I hope to break 300 in the next few months.
What is your passion away from work?
I like competing in martial arts tournaments and practicing tai chi and qigong. I also enjoy writing novels. I have plots for more than 50 novels, but I probably won’t have time to turn many of them into novels due to time constraints.
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