2009 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient — Robert Buhrkuhl
Robert Buhrkuhl, center, the 2009 UCM Distinguished Alumnus, and his wife, Bonnie, receive congratulations from President Aaron Podolefsky.
Now retired and residing in Warson Woods, MO, Robert Buhrkuhl helped to fight the war on terrorism by expediting billions of dollars in critical supplies to military troops.
He graduated from the University of Central Missouri in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement and political science, having served as ROTC cadet corps commander and been recognized as a Distinguished Military Graduate. He obtained a master’s degree in business administration from the university in 1971 and went on to earn a doctorate at St. Louis University in 1980.
Buhrkuhl served 21 years in the U.S. Army Reserve and attained the rank of colonel. He served in a number of progressive positions with the military, becoming director of financial management and comptroller for the U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, FL, in 2007, a civilian title equivalent to a two-star general.
In that capacity, he was directly responsible for five subordinate command comptroller organizations; $8.4 billion in funding; a broad range of missions including preparing, submitting, and defending budget submissions and supporting products; analyzing the execution of the command’s funding; and advising the U.S. Special Operations Command, Theater Special Operations Commanders, and Component Commanders on all financial management matters.
In 2004, he began working at the Pentagon as the first director of the Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell. He reported to the Secretary of Defense through the Undersecretary of Defense, leading a team of 26 general officers, admirals, and senior executive officers. They were responsible for ensuring that U.S. commanders who engaged in combat, the military departments, and other defense agencies were rapidly equipped with state-of-the-art technology. They streamlined the normal lengthy acquisition process to successfully address war-fighting needs.