GW Monumental Alumnus Mark Shenkman Earns Museum of American Finance’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Trustee emeritus and Leadership Advisory Council member is known as a trailblazer in loan and high-yield bond markets.

March 22, 2023

Mark and Rosalind Shenkman

Alumnus Mark Shenkman and his wife, Rosalind, stand outside of his namesake residence hall on the Foggy Bottom campus. (Development and Alumni Relations)

George Washington University Monumental Alumnus Mark Shenkman, M.B.A. ’67, was bestowed with the Museum of American Finance’s Lifetime Achievement Award on March 13 during a celebration in New York City. Shenkman's namesake residence hall, Shenkman Hall on GW’s Foggy Bottom campus, memorializes his numerous contributions and steadfast support of the university. His lifetime achievement award honored his exceptional career in the investment industry.

Shenkman, a member of the GW Leadership Advisory Council and emeritus member of GW’s Board of Trustees, is considered one of the pioneers in leveraged finance, high-yield bond and loan markets. He serves as chair, president and co-chief investment officer at Shenkman Capital Management, which he founded in 1985 as one of the first independent high-yield investment management firms. Shenkman is also a member of the Fixed Income Analysts Society Hall of Fame.

His latest honor comes courtesy of the Museum of American Finance, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate in New York that is the nation’s only independent museum dedicated to finance and financial history. 

"As a successful businessman and pioneer in finance, Mark is a very deserving recipient of this Lifetime Achievement Award," President Mark S. Wrighton said. "We are proud to consider him a distinguished member of our university community, and we are grateful for the many ways he helps to advance our university—as a trustee emeritus, Leadership Advisory Council member and generous philanthropist and supporter."

Shenkman is a co-author of two textbooks on high-yield markets, “High Yield Bonds: Market Structure, Portfolio Management and Credit Risk Modeling” (McGraw Hill, 1999) and “Leveraged Financial Markets” (McGraw Hill, 2010). Prior to founding Shenkman Capital Management, Shenkman was president and chief investment officer of First Investors Asset Management. He also was co-manager and vice president of the high-yield bond department at Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb in New York, where he established one of Wall Street’s earliest departments dedicated to researching, selling and trading high-yield securities.

His celebrated achievements in the business and finance world, including his latest Lifetime Achievement Award, are a beacon of inspiration and aspiration for GW Business students past, present and future. 

"This is an extraordinarily well-deserved recognition for Mark,” said GW Business Dean Anuj Mehrotra. “His leadership and reputation built over more than five decades in the investment industry have created a legacy that will certainly continue to inspire our students and alumni as they pursue careers in finance. We are grateful to Mark for his service and continued support of GW.”

Shenkman has given back to GW in many capacities in the five decades since his graduation from the M.B.A. program. In addition to serving the institution on the GW Leadership Advisory Council and on the Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2017, Shenkman also served as vice chair of the GW Presidential Inauguration Committee in 2017 and was a member of the Presidential Search Committee from 2016 to 2017. In addition, he was a member of the Making History Campaign Steering Committee from 2014 to 2017; the GWSB Board of Advisors from 1998 to 2017; and the GW Board of Visitors from 1998 to 1999. 

He was named one of GW’s Monumental Alumni as part of the university’s bicentennial celebration in 2021. Shenkman also received the GW Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 2019 and the GW Alumni Outstanding Service Award in 2016. Shenkman also funded the move and expansion of Veterans Memorial Park to Kogan Plaza. 

“Mark Shenkman is a GW icon and pillar of our community. His long-standing service and philanthropy has been instrumental to our university in many myriad ways,” said Donna Arbide, vice president of development and alumni relations. “His indelible imprint is evident not just physically across our campus, from Shenkman Hall, Veterans Memorial Park and the George Washington bench on Kogan Plaza but the countless lives enriched by his support of our career services, Hillel, and a long list of programs at multiple GW schools, as well as his guidance as a trustee and adviser across several decades.”

In addition to his service to GW, Shenkman is deeply involved in multiple philanthropic and nonprofit initiatives, including as an emeritus member of the board of directors of the UCONN Foundation and former chair of the board; vice chair of the board at Wilbraham & Monson Academy; and as a board of advisor emeritus at the College of William and Mary, Mason School of Business. Shenkman received a B.A. in political science from the University of Connecticut in addition to the M.B.A. from GW. He also received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from the University of Connecticut.