by Monica Fiore (Copy Editor)
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – January 21 was a heartbreaking day for the Penn State community, his local community members, and family members who gathered in Penn State’s Forum Theatre to commemorate the life of not only a fellow colleague and faculty member, but a family member and a friend.
Penn State New Kensington’s beloved Business professor, Dr. Mike McGinnis, passed away suddenly on December 26 in Florida.
Mourning staff and faculty members remembered who Dr. McGinnis was and how he impacted their lives.
“Dr. McGinnis was one of the first people I met as a new faculty member here at Penn State New Kensington,” said Dr. Megan Bardolph, Assistant Professor of English. “He always offered me a lot of advice when it comes to things like teaching and doing my research and being a new faculty member at an unfamiliar institution, which I really appreciated him for.”
“He was a character,” said McGinnis’ daughter, Michelle. “He was an upbeat, positive person. He was always very supportive. He always encouraged me to make my own decisions. He also taught me not to be afraid of trying something new. He was a good genuine man.”
Dr. Kevin Snider, the Chancellor of Penn State New Kensington, reminisced on Dr. McGinnis’ character.
“Mike had the ability to connect with anybody and everybody and he really cared about students,” said Snider. “He was also a very accomplished scholar in his field. He brought a lot of prestige to the campus through that.”
Dr. McGinnis’ memorial contained a slideshow of pictures of him and his family, as well as a display of hundred of photographs. McGinnis, who worked at the campus for fifteen years, was a very respected faculty member who had a dire passion for teaching.
“Based on the conversations we has about teaching, it’s clear to me that he really wanted to help make a difference in students’ lives,” said Bardolph.
“Sitting out, looking over the people who came to his memorial service, he had everyone from the ladies who work the cafe, to colleagues, to administrators,” said Snider. “I think he liked the people and he liked connecting with them and feeling a part of something. He liked being able to help students.”
Giorgianna Simco, a Business major, reflected on Dr. McGinnis’ impact on her.
“He was a kind man, which I think radiated off him into the Penn State Community,” said Simco. “I think he also brought us his knowledge and made it a point to let the students know how important it is to stay on top of school work to be successful.”
Not only did McGinnis have an impact on staff, faculty, and students, but he also made an impression on the AVI food staff.
“I really miss seeing him every day,” said Margaret Karp, a barista at “The Junction.” “Even though he knew my name is Margaret, a lot of the time when he said, ‘Good Morning’, he would call me ‘Malinda.’ Sometimes I would say ‘Good Morning’ back and reply, ‘But it’s still Margaret,’ and we would laugh and he would correct himself. Most time, I would just answer to it because I knew he really did know who I was.”
Dr. McGinnis’ impression on the Penn State community was so great that nothing could ever replace him. His presence will always remain.
“Mike was a contributing family member,” Snider said. “He made this a nice place to be and I think that’s something that’s going to continue beyond his physical presence here.”
“I think it’s not so much necessarily what he’ll leave here so much as what will be absent,” said Bardolph. “He was such a presence on this campus. Everyone knew who he was and I think things are going to be different now that he’s not here anymore. He had this sort of presence that I don’t think is going to be replaced anytime soon. Maybe that’s part of the legacy and how people will remember him.”
McGinnis’ presence will be severely missed, for he touched a lot of hearts. His sense of humor and ability to connect with people will always be remembered at Penn State New Kensington.
“If you judge a man by what he leaves behind, then Mike was a giant,” Snider said. “He had neighbors here, he had people from academic, he had his family that came up from Florida. It’s clear he had a special place in everybody’s heart. It just seems that he left behind a lot of memories and good lessons for people.”