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San Diego State University

Fowler College of
Business Administration

Alumni Spotlight

Naval Officer Earns SDSU MBA and Builds Career in a “Big 4” Firm

Dennis Walsh

As a high school student, Dennis Walsh (’77, MBA) never planned to attend SDSU or to even live in California - but the Vietnam War altered the life plans of many people, including Walsh’s.

Weighing His Options

Young men like Walsh that were caught up in the military draft during the 1960s and 1970s had several options available to them, including enlisting in ROTC during college and joining the service as an officer upon graduation which is what Walsh chose to do.

While he was earning his math degree at an East Coast university, he spent two summers at the Naval Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Newport, Rhode Island and received a regular commission after graduation.

Landing in San Diego and SDSU

In 1974, Walsh was approaching the end of his three-year Naval commitment and he had already submitted his separation papers. But to entice him to stay for two more years, Walsh was offered shore duty in San Diego with the opportunity to pursue an MBA degree while still on active duty. “Getting shore duty in San Diego was difficult to get, so I said ‘yes’ and was assigned to the Navy’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center,” he said.

The late Gene Whittenburg was very entertaining and did a great job of relaying the material to the students.

Once he moved to San Diego, Walsh enrolled in SDSU’s College of Business Administration to earn his MBA in order to prepare for the CPA exam. “After graduation, I chose to enter the field of accounting and becoming a CPA would offer me many career options,” he said. “I was still on active duty during the first four semesters of my MBA program, so I took a lighter course load during that time. When I resigned from active duty in June 1976, I took a full course load during summer school and the next school year and graduated in May 1977.”

During his time at SDSU he recalled two professors he found to be particularly engaging. “Professor Rick Samuelson was the best, but I also enjoyed a brand new tax professor that had recently graduated from the University of Houston,” he noted. “The late Gene Whittenburg was very entertaining and did a great job of relaying the material to the students.”

Out of SDSU and Into a Rewarding Career

Upon graduation, Walsh and his family headed back to the East Coast and he embarked on a 32-year career with the Boston office of KPMG where he audited multinational corporations and financial institutions. After leaving KPMG, he became the CEO of Home Loan Investment Bank for two years before his retirement.

If you really focus and set your mind on a goal, you can obtain it!

Currently, Walsh enjoys “spending time with the grandchildren, traveling, golf and playing competitive duplicate bridge.”

Walsh said that he hit his academic stride during his years at SDSU where he learned this valuable lesson: “If you really focus and set your mind on a goal, you can obtain it!”

AACSB accredited

The Fowler College of Business Administration is fully accredited by AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business