Frequently Asked Questions

What is the United States Military Academy (USMA) and West Point? 

Founded in 1802, West Point is the nation’s oldest and leading service academy and the longest standing Army garrison in American history.  Located on the site of an historic, Revolutionary War fortress, West Point is a national monument to the members of the United States Army. As one of the world's preeminent, four-year leader development institutions, the United States Military Academy’s mission is to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, and Country. The student body, or Corps of Cadets, numbers 4,400 including student representatives from many foreign military academies. Cadets spend four years at the academy undergoing rigorous academic, physical, and military tests, as well as developing their leadership among their peers. Each year approximately 1,000 cadets join the “Long Gray Line” as they graduate and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

What is the McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character (MCLC)? 

The McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character, or MCLC, is an the premier transformative leadership experience for young, emerging global leaders, Undergraduate student leaders are selected from the nation’s premier institutions as well as international colleges and universities selected for their academic prowess. They are joined by senior mentors, our VIPs, who are the forerunners in various fields of leadership, who will both participate in focused panels and facilitate small groups, in which the attendees will take advantage of their expertise and collectively tackle real-world problems. Their interaction will challenge broader and more critical thinking and collaboration, assess and bolster leadership skills and competencies, and establish mutually supportive, lifelong relationships among rising leaders and their mentors.  Each group will create a proposal, a final, polished product, to publish in a national leadership publication.

How are MCLC and USMA connected? 

The United States Military Academy and Mr. and Mrs. Robert A.McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character are united in promoting the development of leaders of character. In our complex world, critical thinking and character are essential to solving complex real world problems today.  Attendees are or will be leaders within education and the global economy, and will integrate visions of connectedness and stewardship in their spheres of influence, all while developing and demonstrating important cross-cultural competence. These topics saturate world events and make today’s break through discoveries and accomplishments into tomorrow’s history.

Who is Mr. McDonald?

Mr. Robert A. McDonald is a West Point graduate (1975), the Retired Chairman of the Board, and retired president and CEO of Procter & Gamble Company. He graduated West Point with a B.S. in Engineering, served as an officer in the U.S. Army to the rank of Captain, and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal at the end of an honorable military career. By this time, he had earned his MBA from the University of Utah (1978). In 1980, he started working for Procter & Gamble, and was promoted from within the company, being elected President and Chief Executive in 2009, and assuming the responsibilities of Chairman of the board in 2010 until 2014. He and his wife, Diane, have created this conference in order to support and nurture the next generation of global leaders. They have been extremely generous with their time, energy and dedication to the personal growth of young leaders tackling the world’s issues.

What is the main theme and primary topics to be discussed?

The main theme of MCLC 2017 is Opposition and Innovation: Taking Risks to Lead Change. Our three main panels and discussion topics are expressions, structures, and ethics. The guiding question for this year's event is: In what ways can an emerging leader use influence and values-based opposition, but still create an inclusive environment for those who disagree with transformation, in order to ensure innovation, growth, and positive change occurs when up against the status quo?

Who are the panelists and senior mentors for the conference?

The current list of confirmed senior fellows will be listed on the MCLC Home Page.

Who is planning and executing the conference?

Mr. McDonald is the founder of the conference, which is hosted by the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership (BS&L). The team of officers that are coordinating the conference are listed at the bottom of this page. These officers among others are instructors in the Department of BS&L at West Point and are assisting a cadet staff that is planning and executing this conference in order to bolster their own leadership skills.

Where is the conference located at West Point? 

All conference activities at West Point are within walking distance of each other. A bus will transport you from the Thayer Hotel to the conference area every morning and evening. Most conference activities will be held in U.S. Military Academy library, Jefferson Hall, to include panels and keynote speakers in the Haig Room and breakout sessions with your team in various conference rooms throughout the library.  A few other activities will be held in other academic buildings to include Thayer Hall and Mahan Hall, all within walking distance, and in close proximity to the Mess Hall for various meals with the Corps of Cadets. 

When should I get there? 

Travel instructions will be provided in a message from the conference staff once a student is selected for attendance.

Who should I contact when I arrive?

A West Point representative will be on-site to welcome you when you arrive at the Thayer Hotel.  If you are arriving to NYC by train or plane, then a representative will meet you at the train station or airport at designated times. We will then transport you to West Point by vehicle.

Where will I park? 

Parking is available at the Thayer Hotel and at Buffalo Soldier Field, next to the hotel. You will be required to show your state-issued drivers’ license to enter West Point, and your vehicle will likely be searched.  Do not bring any firearms or illegal substances onto West Point.

Where will I stay and who will I room with?

You will room with another conference attendee at the Thayer Hotel on West Point. You can view details about the Thayer Hotel at this link: . Unfortunately, we cannot arrange roommates by choice, but the hotel is conducive to spending time with other attendees. You will find out your specific roommate upon arrive at the hotel.

What is the weather like?

The weather in New York in April is usually around 61 Fahrenheit (16 Celsius) during the day with lows at night around 40 Fahrenheit (4 Celsius), and you should prepare for rain. Check the weather forecast about a week or so out; we will post the weather on our website and Facebook page so you can make the best preparations. Regardless of the forecast, you should bring a jacket in case it is cold, and at least one warm-weather outfit in case it is unseasonably warm.

What should I pack?

We recommend that you pack, at the minimum, business casual attire for 3 days, casual wear for evenings and free time, walking shoes and exercise-type clothes for a scheduled group outdoor exploration of West Point, a binder and notebook (and laptop if desired) for the conference, and any toiletries or other personal items you choose (camera, etc.).

What should I wear?

The attire is business casual during the day. There are planned social activities at night, for which the attire is casual. For men: business casual means slacks with a dress shirt; tie and jacket are optional. Casual here is khakis or a nice pair of jeans, a collared shirt (polo, button down) or sweater. For women: business casual means either slacks or a skirt (no shorter than knee length) with closed-toe shoes, a button down shirt, blouse, or sweater. Casual is khakis or a nice pair of jeans, and shirt that covers the shoulders (blouses, sweaters, etc.).

What food will there be?

Lunch and dinner will be provided for you; please annotate in your registration if you have specific dietary needs and we will accommodate you (Kosher, Halal, Vegetarian, etc.). Snacks and drinks will be provided between events, and there will be an opportunity to eat two meals in the Cadet Mess Hall. . Breakfast is optional and at your own cost. 

Are there fees for the conference?

There are no fees for those attending the conference. All lodging, transportation, and meals are provided (with the exception of breakfast). A buffet breakfast can be purchased at the Thayer Hotel for around $20, or you can find multiple other options in Highland Falls, only a short walk away, ranging between $5 - $15.

How much money should I bring?

Any additional food, drink, or souvenirs you desire may be purchased at various locations. We estimate $100 should be enough to cover additional needs or merchandise, but this is at your discretion to bring an appropriate amount. The United States Military Academy is not responsible for lost money or merchandise.

Are there West Point stores to go to? 

Yes, the Cadet Store sells West Point memorabilia, snacks, and drinks. There is also a gift shop open to the public, and a bookstore in Thayer Hall, our main academic building. These shops also sell snacks, books, and various Academy memorabilia.

What will the day be like?

Your day will be filled with scheduled, conference events (see the general conference schedule). Breakfast is on your own and conference activities will begin at 7:30 – 8:00 am each day. The conference activities will include panel discussions and then time to work in small teams with your mentor. Expect to be in conference until approximately 8:00pm each night. After the conference, we will have social events or free time, which you can spend with attendees in various locations.

How are we moving around at the conference?

Transportation will be provided to/from the hotel at the beginning and end of each day; it is about a 20 minute walk (with a beautiful view of the Hudson Valley) if you choose to make it. The conference buildings are within 5 minutes’ walk of each other, and any other locations you may choose to visit—tourist attractions such as Trophy Point or Kosciuszko’s Garden, or the Cadet Chapel—are within 10 minutes’ walk of the conference buildings.

Will we interact with cadets?

Yes, West Point will have approximately cadets attending the conference and cadets helping organize and execute the conference. You will be working with cadets as well as with domestic and international students from other schools throughout the conference, and you are encouraged to network and mingle with both.

Please direct additional questions about the conference to one of the following officers:

MAJ Nick Eslinger,  
MAJ Andrew Eljdid,  
CPT Drew Bond,  
Ms. Jamie Enos,
Ms. Krista Hennen,