"I've had a very rewarding career and it just seemed like an ideal time to retire and spend time with my family," McKinney said.,”With 40 years at Marquette slung over his shoulder, College of Arts & Sciences Dean Michael McKinney is set to retire at the end of this semester.
"I've had a very rewarding career and it just seemed like an ideal time to retire and spend time with my family," McKinney said.
McKinney started at Marquette as assistant professor of chemistry in 1967, after which he was promoted to associate professor in 1973 and professor in 2000. He also served as chair of the chemistry department for 11 years within that time.
This year will mark McKinney's eighth year as College of Arts & Sciences dean. McKinney said as dean he's most proud of being involved in the hiring of 89 new faculty members and creating the faculty mentoring program, which is in its third year.
The faculty mentoring program was started to address the needs of faculty members who are new to academia in general. According to Roberta Coles, the program's director, it tries to integrate people into Marquette's particular form of academia and to help them have a successful career and gain tenure.
"People who have been involved in the program say they have gotten a lot out of it and appreciate getting that information," Coles said. "(McKinney) really was the main mover and shaker behind the faculty mentoring program. It is one part of his legacy that I think he'll leave the college."
Regarding the dean's accomplishments in hiring new faculty, Coles said, "He has really worked to meet the needs of many departments in terms of helping them get new faculty members rather than just replacements."
Additional achievements include helping the faculty add a minor in justice and peace and implementing the Institute for Transnational Justice, which seeks to facilitate a greater understanding of transnational justice through scholarly conferences, speaker series and providing resources for faculty and student research.
He also oversaw the newly-created Center for Peacemaking, which aims to identify and educate on nonviolence and expand resources within Marquette to promote nonviolent peacemaking.
"I'd like to see us do more in global and diversity education," McKinney said.
McKinney also helped start up majors in social welfare and justice and Catholic theology and a minor in ethics.
During McKinney's tenure as dean, the college worked on developing a new core curriculum for the college, and established separate curricula for the B.A. and B.S. degrees.
The refurbishment of the Wehr Chemistry Building, which is to be completed in one to two years, was also championed by McKinney.
Faculty members and students say that in addition to these achievements, McKinney also made himself available to them.
"One of the things I really saw accomplished was just working more with the students, the student council and with the faculty," said Jason Rae, president of the College of Arts & Sciences Student Council.
McKinney said after retirement he will remain involved in education, likely through volunteering as a tutor in grade schools or middle schools with science programs.
"This is something I did when I was a chemistry professor – I put on chemical magic shows," he said.
But he said he will also enjoy just having time off.
"I love my years at Marquette, but I'm also looking forward to relaxing with family," he said.
When McKinney steps down at the end of the semester, John Pustejovsky, an associate professor of German, will serve as interim dean, Provost Madeline Wake said.
He was selected from candidates nominated by department chairs and college administrators.
According to Wake, the search for a permanent dean is expected to begin soon. It will be a national search conducted by a committee chaired by Albert Rivero, professor of English, and co-chaired by College of Communication Dean John Pauly. The search committee will be composed of several faculty, an academic administrator and alumni.
"We expect to have a new dean in place by July 1, 2008," Wake said.
Finding someone to fill McKinney's place will not be easy, Rae said.
"It will be very hard for them to replace someone who cares so much about the students like Dean McKinney did," Rae said. "He was always very eager to listen to the students and very willing to hear our thoughts and opinions. I was very disappointed to hear the news over the summer of his retirement."
Coles agreed McKinney will be missed.
"He was very supportive of departmental needs," she said. "He has a great sense of humor, he's a great speech writer – you never get tired of hearing him talk. I know a lot of people are going to be very sorry to see him go."