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Alumnus shares the potential impact of a UIU education with his students

Upper Iowa University assistant professor of art Laura Gleissner (far right) was among the faculty and staff who provided a Fayette Campus tour to Riverdale High School students during their November 2019 visit. For the past five years, alumnus Todd McKay ’98, a current educator in the Muscoda, Wisconsin, high school has brought members of the school’s junior class to visit UIU.

For the past five years, an Upper Iowa University alumnus and current educator from Riverdale High School in Muscoda, Wisconsin, has brought members of the school’s junior class to Fayette Campus. Todd McKay ’98 enjoys showing the students where he received his education while providing them the opportunity to see how a university can impact their lives as UIU did his.

McKay earned a general business degree and teaching and coaching certifications at UIU. Now serving as Riverdale’s dean of students, teaching business education and coaching high school track and seventh grade girls basketball, he is greatly appreciative of the school district and UIU for allowing the high school juniors to visit his alma mater’s campus each fall. McKay and his students are typically welcomed by President William R. Duffy II before being provided an admissions presentation. In addition to a Campus tour and free lunch at the Servery, UIU provides the guests with a question and answer period with student and faculty panels.

Todd McKay ’98 (left) and his Riverdale High School students are typically welcomed by UIU President William R. Duffy II before being provided an admissions presentation during their annual visit to Fayette Campus.

“Following the day’s activities, I always ask the students to observe how many other university presidents greet them when they visit other college campuses in the future,” McKay said. “The students appreciate Dr. Duffy’s sincerity when telling them the importance of weighing all their options in ultimately choosing a college that best fits their personality and needs. They also like UIU’s class schedule, small class sizes, modern dorms and amount of food choices available.”

“For most of these students, it is their first exposure to any college or university,” McKay added. “I feel UIU is such a unique university that my students need to be exposed to it. The visit also introduces them to a small, outstanding university that is only two hours from their homes. UIU is unlike so many colleges where you have to bike or take the bus from building to building. In Fayette, you can walk from one side of the campus to the other in minutes. I am so proud of how UIU has constructed new state-of-the-art facilities. I also take pride in showing my students how they can get a great education, where the university is committed to looking for ways to best care for them now and in the future.”

A native of Houston, Minnesota, McKay’s interest in an education career originated in high school, when he discovered an interest in working with and helping elementary students. In addition to the opportunity to play football at the college level, he chose to pursue his educational goals at UIU due to the small class sizes and family atmosphere.

Alumnus Todd McKay ’98 and his wife, Rachel (far right), are pictured with their daughters, Ella (far left) and Macy. Todd hopes someday that his daughters decide to attend Upper Iowa University and enjoy the same great experience he did when earning his general business degree and teaching and coaching certificates.

“Having a teacher know me by name and not by my Social Security number was a big thing for me,” McKay said. “If I was not in class, they would call to see how and where I was. They went out of their way to make sure I was successful in all aspects. I feel that if I had gone to a larger university, I would not have experienced as much success. I owe a lot of my accomplishments to all the UIU faculty and lifelong friends I met along the way. It was four years that shaped me into the man and educator that I am today.”

McKay praises his university professors and coaches for reaching out whenever he struggled and encouraging him to learn from mistakes and continue on his journey. He feels those UIU experiences taught him to go above and beyond to make sure his students and student-athletes know that he cares about them and wants them to succeed in class and in life.

“I have enjoyed my 22 years of teaching,” McKay said. “I am extremely grateful for having the opportunity to make a positive effect on so many young lives. To see my past students’ accomplishments come to fruition puts a huge smile on my face.”

The similar interest that the UIU faculty and staff continue to show for students and alumni is something that sticks with the 44-year-old to this day. He noted that he still frequently communicates with his former UIU Methods and Field Experience education teacher Gail Moorman Behrens and former running backs coach and baseball coach Mark Danker.

“UIU is a special place filled with a lot of great people,” McKay said. “After over two decades, Mark (Danker) still asks how my parents are doing, and he still knows their names. It’s examples like that which mean a lot to me. I hope every alum could take a day or two to come back to Fayette and see the changes and improvements that have been made to Campus. I am proud to say that I am a Peacock for life.”

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