Alumni Spotlight: Daniel McGinty
Photo by Amara Young/Student Voice
Five members of the UW-River Falls Alumni Relations Office in South Hall are alumni of the university themselves, so it isn’t surprising that an alumnus directs the office.
Daniel McGinty is currently serving as the director of alumni relations, and is responsible for keeping the more than 45,000 alumni from UWRF engaged with the university. This includes planning alumni events, providing information on volunteer opportunities such as guest speaking and advisory boards and using social media to keep in touch with UWRF. This year also marks his 33rd year working for UWRF.
McGinty said he had a fantastic experience attending River Falls as an undergraduate, growing up in eastern Wisconsin. Despite having to drive past other universities that were closer to home, he felt compelled to come to River Falls because of its friendly atmosphere.
“I remember my campus visit like it was yesterday,” McGinty recalled. “When I set my foot on this campus, it felt right.”
McGinty said that what kept him here was the friendly people that work at UWRF, something that the school still values today. He said he feels that while social interactions between faculty have decreased over the years, the same connections between students and faculty are still made today.
While attending as an undergraduate, McGinty was heavily involved with athletics, and after graduation he later served as assistant coach of the basketball team for 10 years. He also attended campus events such as homecoming and the winter carnival, an annual event that no longer exists at River Falls. He completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at River Falls, and went on to live in Uruguay for a year before coming back to UWRF to pursue his graduate studies.
After completing his graduate studies in counseling, McGinty was offered a position with the Admissions Office at UWRF. He worked there for two years as a counselor, then went on to work for Financial Aid before finally working his way working to Alumni Development in 1988. It was there that McGinty found his passion, and he continues to work with the university’s alumni today.
Over the years, McGinty has had the opportunity to watch multiple departments and programs at UWRF grow, which includes the school’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign that exceeded its $20 million goal by $2 million. He has also seen an increase in scholarships awarded to students by twice the amount, as well as the improvements and expansions of facilities on campus such as the Falcon Center. But in addition to watching many of the impacts made on campus, he has seen many of the impacts made by fellow alumni as well.
One picture in McGinty’s office that stands out is that of Daniel Brandenstein, a former naval pilot and astronaut who flew into space four times as a NASA space shuttle pilot, who is also a UWRF alumnus. Other prominent UWRF alumni he mentioned included David Swensen, CEO of the Yale Endowment, and Brad Hewitt, CEO of Thrivent Financial, who recently received the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award. Through these examples and many more, he explained that many students who attend UWRF have the confidence and ability to compete with students from other schools.
“When I travel and talk to our alumni,” he said, “I ask this question: ‘How well did your River Falls education prepare you for what you are going to do?’ And nine times out of 10, it’s usually very well.”
In terms of connecting alumni back to River Falls, one big part of McGinty and Alumni Relations’ role is planning events. More than 70 different alumni events are held on campus, as well as other events that happen throughout the state, region and internationally. In addition to events, alumni often volunteer to guest speak in classes, and also are utilized in mock interviews for Career Services. Keeping up with the times, the department also hands out bimonthly newsletters online, as well as utilizing mailing lists and social media in order to keep UWRF alumni well informed.
McGinty’s advice to students is to use the resources on campus, including Career Services. In addition to helping students build resumes and cover letters, they can also serve as the gatekeeper toward business relations that can help students make connections and expand their networks, something that a student should always do, even after graduation.
“You’re always expanding your networks,” McGinty said. “You never know where the opportunities might come from down the road.”