I am deeply ashamed to be a Southwestern Illinois College alumna.
The college’s decision last August to terminate Patrick McGarrity from his 20-year position as professor of history was an unjustified and, frankly, asinine act committed under shrouds of secrecy. Consequently, I personally returned my A.A. diploma to the president’s ffice and now challenge other alumni to do likewise.
Southwestern Illinois College lost a rare gem in Mr. McGarrity: an exceptionally passionate and engaged educator who selflessly served students and advanced Southwestern in extraordinary ways. Unique among colleagues for his outstanding work ethic and the high standards he devised for courses, McGarrity constantly devoted personal time on weekends, holidays and academic breaks to teaching. Unsurprisingly, he was very popular among students, with classes at capacity. As founder of the SWIC History Club, McGarrity raised funds and led students on field trips to museums, battlefields, government institutions and international historic sites.
Furthermore, McGarrity “paid it forward” by establishing the Kate McGarrity Memorial Scholarship at SWIC, enabling immigrant students (as he once was) to pursue an education and realize their full potential. Thus, he played an invaluable role in thousands of students’ success, including mine.
Dr. Georgia Costello and the college’s board of trustees failed miserably to serve the best interests of the community by removing Mr. McGarrity from the classroom. Unfortunately, jealousy and flagrant mediocrity consume SWIC while the old adage is more than that: SWIC really is Still Writing In Crayon.
Mia Michael, Ph.D. student