Profiles: Lt. Col. Ronald Walter

Lt. Col. Ronald Walter

Lt. Col. Ronald Walter

MBA Telecommunications Management 87

Author, Lecturer, Commentator, Arizona & Colorado; Board of Directors, Franciscan Renewal Center; Retired Executive Vice President, Integrated Systems Improvement Services, Inc.; Retired Lieutenant Colonel, US Army

Lifelong Learner

"The experience at Golden Gate gave me the opportunity as an infantryman to enter into a technical field that I really had no background in, and still create a successful second career, or third career."

Ronald Walter's circuitous career path includes West Point, a revolution in the Dominican Republic, the jungles of Vietnam and the executive suite of the defense contractor ISIS, as a founding partner. Along the way he picked up three master's degrees, several promotions, retired from the Army, changed careers, started a company with his wife, and another attempt at retirement. However, his innate curiosity is sending him in a whole new direction: studying philosophy and religion.

Ron's career path with the Infantry Branch of the Army took him in many different directions. In the spring of 1965, a revolution erupted in the Dominican Republic and 42,000 US soldiers and Marines were deployed to the island for a brief occupation. Ron Walter was among the military advisers sent in to help maintain order. It was one of his first assignments, and would ultimately pique his interest in politics.

As a unit commander, Ron was required to investigate and clear the many tunnels that were found in their area of operations. Each was usually well guarded or booby trapped, so checking or clearing them was a deadly exercise. Between tours in Vietnam, Ron received a letter from West Point's admissions director, inviting him to join the academy's staff, but to do so would require a master's degree. Instead, he volunteered to go back to Vietnam. Months passed and he finally took the director's offer, through a letter he wrote one day from a foxhole.

Ron ended up enrolling at the University of Illinois, where he earned his first master's degree, in Latin American politics, in 1971. It would prove to be the start of a lifelong passion for learning. No longer a West Point cadet or an adventuresome young military officer, he was a husband and expecting father when he arrived at the University of Illinois campus.

A teacher and children's librarian, Janice has been Ron's lifetime partner not only in family but also in their highly successful business ventures. Many military spouses see their own careers interrupted because of the frequent relocating. She would continue teaching and being the librarian in elementary schools from Arizona to Alaska and back, taking some years off to raise the couple's four children, until 1988 after Ron retired from the military and began his second career.

His initial foray into graduate school helped illuminate his career path and the importance education would play in his life. After his first master's degree in 1971, Walter was back at West Point. He'd left as a field officer and was returning as an admissions officer on his first administrative assignment.

While enrolled in his second master's degree program at the University of Northern Colorado, he considered doing doctoral work in organizational development. Ron developed an interdisciplinary proposal that was well received at the university and would have him spend eight weeks on the Greely campus. Ron graduated from West Point about the time that Army Intelligence first became a branch of the service, so it was not among his available choices for specialization.

At the time he was a major, stationed at Fort Huachuca, the Arizona military installation where he spent much of his career in the Army and as a defense contractor, an instructor and as a Golden Gate University graduate student. In the mid-1980s, GGU dominated university programs offered at military bases throughout the country. Although GGU was offering bachelors and master's degree programs on dozens of military bases, the Fort Huachuca program was unique, as was the base itself.

Ron spent the next decade as an executive with Gutierrez-Palmenberg Inc., a Phoenix-based government contractor, before launching Integrated Systems Improvement Services, Inc. (ISIS) in 1999. ISIS grew quickly and often finds itself on the list of the top privately held businesses in Arizona. The company provides worldwide security, intelligence, technology and training to government and private enterprises. For Ron and Janice Walter, ISIS was truly a family enterprise. They and their partner, Dan Bieger, each brought discrete skill sets to the endeavor. Eventually, some of the four Walter children came on staff as well.

In the early 1980s he was involved in the management of the combat-development side of the Army. After retiring from the Army and joining first MANDEX Inc. and then GPI, he became involved in the testing-and-evaluation side. And finally at ISIS he was involved in training people to utilize those systems. It was a model he'd used when teaching telecommunications courses for Golden Gate. It worked equally well at ISIS.

To say that Ron Walter is hooked on learning might be an understatement. Since retiring he has let his imagination soar, taking courses and doing extensive reading on a range of topics. He's a big fan of The Teaching Company's Great Courses series, poring over its catalog and sharing recommendations and tapes with friends. Also, he is currently serving as the Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee for Vesuvius Press, Inc. in Phoenix and on the Board Formation and Governance Committee for the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale.

His book, Theory of Everything: Franciscan Faith and Reason, was published in February 2015.