The last week in May saw two prominent Duke alumni in the news for significant—albeit very different—career moves.
Eric Shinseki, Graduate School '76 and Secretary of Veterans Affairs, resigned Friday amid a growing scandal regarding veterans' treatment at VA hospitals. Meanwhile, Robert Steel—Trinity '73 and former chair of the Board of Trustees—announced that he will become C.E.O. of boutique investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners.
Calls for Shinseki's resignation came from across the political spectrum in recent weeks. Issues with waiting time and delayed appointments at VA hospitals were first uncovered last winter and were confirmed by investigations throughout the spring.
Veterans groups began asking for Shinseki to resign in early May. On May 6, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced that President Barack Obama "remains confident in Secretary Shinseki's ability to lead the department and take appropriate action," and Shinseki told The Wall Street Journal that he had no plans to resign. As investigations continued, however, the severity of the hospitals' problems were found to be greater than previously thought, and the pressure for Shinseki to resign increased.
Obama accepted Shinseki's resignation Friday morning.
Shineski received a masters in English from Duke. He also received an honorary degree from the University in 2011 and led the rededication of the University war memorial in 2009.
Steel served as chair of the Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2009. His new position at Perella Weinberg comes after a term as New York City's deputy mayor of economic development from 2010 to 2013. Steel has previously served as vice chairman of Goldman Sachs and the chief executive of Wachovia, in addition to holding a position in the Treasury Department, and his move to Perella Weinberg was the subject of significant conversation in the finance world.
Before becoming chair of the Board, Steel served as chair of DUMAC—the investment organization responsible for Duke's endowment—and sat on the health system's board of directors.