Donald Shobrys ’75, the MIT Alumni Association’s new president, learned just how fast MIT connections could be made when he was accepted by MIT and other universities. “A list of accepted students was sent to the fraternities, and Dave Gromala ’74, a first-year who lived a few blocks away, applied a very personal touch,” says Shobrys, a Chicago native. In fact, Gromala practically moved in with the Shobrys family that summer, soon winning over Don for his fraternity, Delta Tau Delta.
Once on campus, Shobrys studied civil and environmental engineering and participated in the varsity cross-country and outdoor track teams. The track coach Gordon Kelly was a particular influence. “You learn a lot of lessons in leadership from people like him,” he says.
In his business career, Shobrys has used many of the skills he acquired as an undergraduate—especially applying technology to analytical problems—to help clients make better decisions faster. After MIT, he earned a master’s in civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University in 1978 and, in 1981, a PhD from Johns Hopkins in operations research. He was a senior research engineer at ExxonMobil for three years and then, for 14 years, worked for Chesapeake Decisions Sciences, a supply-chain consulting firm with clients like Exxon and IBM. During his three-year stint as vice president of operations, the size of the company doubled and its revenues tripled.
Since the company was acquired in 1998, Shobrys has embarked on a consulting career focusing on supply-chain issues and software development. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts, with his wife, Carol Aronson, a process control expert.
Shobrys devotes much of his time to MIT. He is a co-director of the MIT Venture Mentoring Service and serves on the Corporation Development Committee and the Alumni Association Board of Directors. He has chaired the Annual Fund and cofounded Friends of DAPER to support campus athletics. He is the recipient of Association awards, including the Henry B. Kane ’24 Award, a Presidential Citation, and the Bronze Beaver.
He also helped found the Alumni Advisory Council of the MIT Engineering Systems Division (ESD), where he has found both professional support and valuable friendships.
During his one-year term as Association president, which begins this July, Shobrys hopes to help many more alumni develop new connections to the Institute on both intellectual and personal levels. Personally, he has made many new friendships among his classmates since his 25th reunion, he says.
“As president, you have the opportunity to help improve the MIT connection with nearly 130,000 of the best minds in the world,” he says. “I would like to increase their interaction with each other and make it easier to connect with the part of MIT that resonates with them.”