Edward R. McPherson, Under Secretary of Education—Biography
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Edward R. McPherson was appointed the under secretary of education in April 2004 by President Bush and subsequently confirmed by the United States Senate. He is a member of the President's Management Council.

As the under secretary of education, McPherson serves as Chief Operating Officer of the Department, overseeing the effective investment and management of the Department's grants, loans, contracts and related services. The Department of Education invests an annual budget in excess of $66 billion to promote excellence in education throughout America and manages student loans, grants and guarantees of approximately $400 billion.

He contributes valuable results in the use of resources by states and localities on behalf of America's children and taxpayers. McPherson also enhances the Department's operating effectiveness in information technology, human capital and management processes.

McPherson had been serving since Oct. 5, 2001, as chief financial officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), following his appointment by President Bush and confirmation by the U.S. Senate. At the Department of Agriculture he was responsible for the financial leadership of an enterprise that, were it in the private sector, would be one of the largest companies in the United States with more than 100,000 employees, $123 billion in assets and $70 billion in annual spending. The Department of Agriculture provides $100 billion in direct loans, $29 billion in credit guarantees and $38 billion in reinsurance to support America's farmers and ranchers, promote global trade, protect America's food and water, and conduct massive humanitarian nutrition programs.

Just over a year after McPherson took office, the Department of Agriculture and all its agencies for the first time ever received a "clean" audit opinion from its Office of the Inspector General for fiscal year 2002. This achievement required massive changes in accountability and internal control and was recognized by the Secretary of Agriculture through an Honor Award. USDA sustained this improved accountability by also receiving clean audits in FY 2003 and FY 2004. McPherson was also responsible for the National Finance Center in New Orleans, La., which administers the world's largest retirement plan, with $100 billion in investments for three million federal civilian and military personnel, and processes $26 billion annually in payroll for more than 500,000 governmental employees.

Prior to being appointed by President Bush, McPherson was president of InterSolve Group, which he founded in 1989. The business of InterSolve Group is executing the commercial agenda of chief executive officers by leading high-performance project teams of JUST-IN-TIME-TALENT™. InterSolve Group is widely recognized as America's first virtual service company that takes responsibility to produce valuable results by leading the best available talent so as to execute "on demand" for Fortune 100 companies and Forbes 400 entrepreneurs.

McPherson has been called a pioneer by Tom Peters, who featured him in his seminars, his book Crazy Times Call for Crazy Organizations and his newsletter On Achieving Excellence. In addition, Business Week's cover story on the "Virtual Corporation" in 1993 highlighted McPherson for earning $14 million in 90 days for a client by leading project teams from four different companies totaling 26 people, only one of whom he had met before, in restructuring business processes, applying information technology and managing the human side of change.

McPherson received special recognition in 2000 and 1999 for his personal contributions to advancing domestic outsourcing as a means of helping companies improve performance, profitability and shareholder value. He was nominated in 2000 for an Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Ernst & Young's Southwestern region.

With over 30 years of experience in leadership, organizational enhancement, business strategy and corporate finance, McPherson has served as chief financial officer of two large holding companies, including SunAmerica, which now has over $100 billion of mutual funds, annuities, and investment services in Los Angeles as part of American International Group. Earlier, at age 37, he was chief financial officer of First Republic Bank Corporation in Dallas, which had peaks of $140 million in earnings, $35 billion in assets and more than 17,000 people prior to its acquisition by Bank of America.

He has participated in 25 business acquisitions, issued debt and equity in the domestic and international capital markets, and served as a director of a venture capital fund. McPherson has received an award for excellence from the Financial Analysts Federation in New York City, gained recognition as a management consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, and was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal as an officer in the U.S. Navy with the Defense Intelligence Agency.

He graduated from Williams College, has a master's degree from the George Washington University, and attended the corporate financial management executive program at Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration.

McPherson has served as a trustee of the Hockaday School—one of the largest private secondary school for girls in the United States—and has addressed numerous business and leadership groups. His insights into the new economy have appeared in Fast Company and Reuters.

Raised in Gettysburg, Pa., and a resident of Dallas, Texas, McPherson and his wife Sally have two children: Beth, a teacher in Austin, Texas, and Edward, a writer in New York City. McPherson is an advocate for excellence in academics and amateur athletics, enjoys playing in alumni basketball games, and has completed a marathon race.

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Last Modified: 01/09/2006