John J. Donovan

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John Joseph Donovan
John Donovan at MIT 2015 cropped.jpg
John J. Donovan at MIT in 2015
Born February 12, 1942 (1942-02-12) (age 75)
Lynn, Massachusetts, US
Nationality American, Irish
Citizenship United States
Alma mater
Known for Entrepreneurship, Information Technology, Philanthropy
Net worth $100 million[1]
Spouse(s) Linda Donovan
Website Professor John J. Donovan
Scientific career
Doctoral advisor
Doctoral students
John Donovan Signature.png
Jay-Yong Lee, George H. W. Bush, and John Donovan at the opening of Samsung's chip factory in Texas
Donovan with John S. Reed (Chairman, MIT Corporation) in MIT Building 10 (2015)

John J. Donovan (born February 12, 1942) is a former management professor at MIT, and the current president and chief executive of the Cambridge Technology Group, an executive training company.[2]

Academic career[edit]

Donovan attended Lynn English High School. He obtained two master's degrees - one in engineering and one in science, and a PhD - from Yale University.[3] He subsequently was a Ford Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),[3][4][5] In 1977, he became a tenured professor at MIT.[6]

He authored multiple computer science textbooks, including Systems Programming (1972) and Operating Systems (1974), and his research focused on early work in operating systems, databases, and later applications of IT to business.[7][8] He also wrote business textbooks such as Business Re-engineering with Information Technology (1994) and Business & Technology: A Paradigm Shift (1993).[9][10] Donovan and his son, John Jr co-authored a book titled The Second Industrial Revolution (1997).[11][12]

Donovan also served as an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine. He received two awards for his work at the Center for Birth Defects.[13][14] Donovan later lectured on Strategic Computing in Government while at Harvard University.[15] He received the first Honorary Doctorate in Economics from the University of Economics, Prague since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Business career[edit]

Donovan started his business career by providing technical training for AT&T computer business personnel.[16][17] Later courses shifted towards sales and strategy training to executives. This led to Donovan devising a method of helping companies meet their customers' needs through workshops which he ran for various companies including.

Through these workshops Donovan founded many companies including: Cambridge Technology Group, One Wave, Open Environment Corporation, Cambridge Technology Partners, and CellExchange.[18][19][20]

In 2016, Donovan has attempted to claim ownership rights over land that did not belong to him. The purpose of this was so that Donovan could acquire funds for one of the businesses in which Donovan had investors that have lost significant sums of money. It is alleged that Donovan forged documents submitted to the South Essex Registry of Deeds. A woman who says she invested and lost $1.5 million in Donovan Sr's latest business venture, then agreed to loan him additional funds. As a result of the fraudulent documents being submitted to the registry there was a delayed transfer of Sagamore Hill property to the conservation group.[21]

Multiple individuals have had problems collecting money from loans that have been given to Donovan. Former student and associate Stuart Madnick sued for $1.4 million, then later settled.[22] Donovan and other executives from his company have also been taken to court by 10 subcontractors who claim that he was so eager to hire them for an important workshop for Citigroup that he asked them to begin working the very day he offered them the job; in their pending case, they alleged that Donovan’s company failed to pay them a total of $181,000.[23]

A lawsuit was filed by Donovan's son, John Jr, who claimed that his father had owed him $4.8 million for repayment of a loan. When John Jr took legal action to force repayment, Donovan claimed he owed him nothing. An arbitrator in the case, a former federal judge, ordered Donovan Sr to repay the loan. “I find that John Jr. was a truthful and credible witness”, he wrote, “and I find the testimony of Donovan to be unworthy of belief and false in all material respects”.[24]

In court proceedings regarding the event in which Donovan shot himself, Judge Martin was quoted as saying Donovan "deliberately lied". Additionally, based upon the result of the proceedings "the grand jury not first to find Donovan challenged by the truth".[25]

Public service[edit]

Donovan was a collaborator in the development of a birth defect information system for Tufts University School of Medicine.[26][27]

In 2001, Donovan established a $50,000 scholarship (John J. Donovan Family Scholarship) at Yale University.[28] Through his charitable organization Children’s Potential Unlimited, he donated computers to Connery Elementary School in Lynn, Massachusetts.[29]

In 2009, Donovan was recognized by the Essex County Trail Association for his land conservation work.[30][31][32][33] Donovan has also done land conservation work in Vermont.[34]

Personal life[edit]

John J. Donovan with Senator Ted Kennedy
Donovan with US Senator Ted Kennedy (c. 2001)
Cristina Dolan MIT Media Lab with Professor John Donovan MIT Dept Economics
Cristina Dolan (MIT Media Lab) with Donovan at the MIT Department of Economics

Donovan was born in Lynn, Massachusetts to John J. Sr and Madeline Donovan. John J. Sr was an elementary school teacher and part-time police officer. Madeline was a social worker. Donovan has mentioned that his father passed down a strong love for teaching. At Lynn High, a teacher noticed his unique ability to find patterns of mathematics and replicate them, and asked him to teach his peers. Inspired by the opportunity, Donovan credits this empowerment as life-changing.[35] His wife is Linda Donovan.

In an article from 2004 entitled "Great Divide - A N.E. family of privilege is at war over money, property, and accusations of a father's abuse" Professor Donovan's son, John Jr. was quoted saying, "What we have learned about dad is monstrous, and we should have nothing to do with him,".[36]

In August 2007, Donovan was fined $625 for filing a false police report,[37] and was found guilty of staging his own shooting. Middlesex Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fishman was quoted as saying "Mr. Donovan's behavior . . . can be described as nothing short of bizarre and premeditated".[38] It was further determined that John J. Donovan purposefully altered the viewing angles of the surveillance cameras in the areas where the crime was committed. Video footage taken a few days before the attack showed Donovan redirecting a security camera in the car park, an indication, prosecutors argued, that Donovan had staged the shooting. According to Attorney General Martha Coakley and testimony at Donovan's trial, Donovan shot himself in the abdomen, shot up his own minivan, kept a spent bullet in his mouth, rearranged a surveillance camera to prevent the recording of his hoax, and laid out the entire plan in a form of shorthand on the dinner menu of the Algonquin Club to which he belonged. Police found the "to-do" list in his pocket.[38]

During these same proceedings the judge ordered Donovan to stay away from his four eldest children and their families. This was in part, due to the fact that one of John J. Donovan's daughters alleged she has been sexually assaulted by her father. She was joined by all but one of her siblings in seeking a separation agreement from their father. Even the son who did not join the action, John Jr, has said in court papers that he wants nothing to do with his father.[39][27]

Significant policing resources were required to investigate the allegations that someone had attacked John J. Donovan, when in reality he had shot himself. A spokesman for the Cambridge Police Department, Frank Pasquarello, was quoted as saying "There are a lot of people who worked hard that night (of the shooting,)". He went to say "Have him come over and rake their leaves".[40]


  • Donovan, J. (1972) Systems Programming, McGraw-Hill[41]
  • Donovan, J. (1974) Operating Systems, McGraw-Hill [42]
  • Donovan, J. (1977) Software Projects: Pedagogical Aids for Software Education and Research, McGraw-Hill[43]
  • Donovan, J. (1990) Crisis in Technology: The Solution: Strategic Weapons and Tactics for Executives, Cambridge Technology Group[44]
  • Donovan, J. (1993) Business and technology : a Paradigm Shift, Cambridge Technology Group[45]
  • Donovan, J. (1994) Business Reengineering with Information Technology, Prentice Hall[46]
  • Donovan, J. (1997) The Second Industrial Revolution : Reinventing Your Business on the Web, Prentice Hall[47]


  1. ^ Bermuda's world business leaders and their locally-registered companies
  2. ^ Sound Bytes: Three Careers and Counting New York Times, August 21, 1994
  3. ^ a b Yale PhD
  4. ^ Virtual Machine Communication for the Implementation of Decision Support SystemIEEE Transactions on Software Engineering,Vol. SE-3, No. 5, September 1977
  5. ^ John J. Donovan David A. Schultz Award Certificate
  6. ^ John J. Donovan Tenure Letter
  7. ^ Systems programmingLibrary of Congress Online Catalogue
  8. ^ Operating SystemsLibrary of Congress Online Catalogue
  9. ^ Library of Congress On-line Catalogue
  10. ^ Donovan Executive Seminar - About the Speaker[dead link]
  11. ^ Second Industrial Revolution,Library of Congress Online Catalogue
  12. ^ Second Industrial RevolutionCover and Acknowledgments.
  13. ^ John J. Donovan Recognition Letter From Tufts Medical School 1974[dead link]
  14. ^ John J. Donovan Recognition Letter From Tufts Medical School 1979[dead link]
  15. ^ The Oracle e-business Executive Seminar Series Brochure[dead link],
  16. ^ AT&T - Cambridge Institute Information Systems Brochure
  17. ^ Cambridge Institute for Information Systems - Staff Members - 1986
  18. ^ Listening is important, but leading is the main job The Boston Globe, January 11, 2004.
  19. ^ Sound Bytes: Three Careers and Counting New York Times, August 21, 1994.
  20. ^ Still battling the bullies As John Donovan rolls out companies, he leaves behind both admirers and enemies [dead link] The Boston Globe, June 30, 1996.
  21. ^ Court papers: Man tried to take back land, The Salem News, December 18, 2016
  22. ^ Professor Donovan’s Magnificent Entanglements, Boston Magazine, July 2006
  23. ^ Professor Donovan’s Magnificent Entanglements, Boston Magazine, July 2006
  24. ^ Professor Donovan’s Magnificent Entanglements, Boston Magazine, July 2006
  25. ^ Boston Globe Archives The Nutty Professor, Boston Globe, May 26, 2006
  26. ^ New Birth Defect Computer System DemonstratedTech Talk, June 14, 1978
  27. ^ a b Conroy, Erin (August 15, 2007). "Son of MIT professor says his father tried to ruin him - The Boston Globe". Boston Globe. Associated Press. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  28. ^ Donovan Family ScholarshipYale University
  29. ^ Brochure Children's Potential Unlimited
  30. ^ John and Linda Donovan honored at Myopia Horse ShowHamilton-Wenham Chronicle, September 24, 2009.
  31. ^ Local News Salem News, September 7, 2009.
  32. ^ Donovan/Sagamore Hill temporarily closedEssex County Trail Association
  33. ^ Run for the Trails Muddy FunEssex County Trail Association,November 7, 2009
  34. ^ Community Recognizes Pomfret CoupleVermont Standard, Volume 156 - Number 36,September 11, 2009.
  35. ^ "Personal story of Professor John Donovan". [dead link]
  36. ^ Great divide A N.E. family of privilege is at war over money, property, and accusations of a father's abuse], The Boston Globe, February 22, 2004
  37. ^ Salem News November 6, 2010 article by Julie Manganis
  38. ^ a b Ellement, John R. (August 18, 2007). "Ex-professor found guilty of staging own shooting". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  39. ^ MIT professor staged his own shooting, The Guardian, August 17, 2007
  40. ^ IT Guru John Donovan Sentenced To Clean Up Horse Trails, Information Week, December 5, 2007
  41. ^ "Systems programming". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  42. ^ "Operating systems". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  43. ^ "Software projects : pedagogical aids for software education and research". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  44. ^ "Crisis in technology : the solution, strategic weapons and tactics for executives : handbook for implementing strategic advantage through technology". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  45. ^ "Business and technology : a paradigm shift : strategic weapons and tactics for executives : handbook for implementing strategic advantage through technology". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  46. ^ "Business re-engineering with information technology : sustaining your business advantage : an implementation guide". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  47. ^ "The second industrial revolution : reinventing your business on the web". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 

External links[edit]