Retired U-M Professor Andrew “Andy” R. McGill, Ph.D. has worked in a variety of roles: academic, scholar, teacher, journalist, director, baseball umpire, husband, father, and devoted grandfather— to name some.
“I am 72, will be 73 in September,” revealed McGill. “I don’t think I’ll ever retire — I’ll always be doing something — to learn and contribute!”
Andy is currently working in the academic world as an online professor.
“I teach doctoral students at Grand Canyon University (GCU) as a Senior Doctoral Adjunct Professor, beginning working with students as they start to formulate their leadership-focused dissertation research and continuing to work with students until their research is completed as their dissertation chair,” McGill described. “It is very rewarding to see these scholars develop. And, given the wide breadth of topics their leadership research can cover —from sports, to medicine, to education, to business, to government —it becomes a continual learning experience for me, as well.”
Like many people who enjoy online teaching and learning, McGill noted the flexibility involved.
“I originally joined GCU a year after retiring from UM, teaching in its business school courses similar to those I taught at Ross. I was curious how the online learning environment would compare with the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom,” said McGill. “Quite well, actually. Asynchronous learning is very accommodating to people who work and can’t attend classes at regular days or times. What most surprised me is that I get to know more students better online than I ever did in the classrooms, their backgrounds, occupations, goals, etc., since all of these things typically work to shape their learning and research. And the courses are every bit as demanding as they were at UM. In fact, if I had told a UM business student that papers were due every two weeks—as they were in one Grand Canyon course —I suspect a few would have walked out and dropped the course on the first day.”
McGill began working as a sportswriter in Florida for the Miami Herald, and worked for other papers in Florida as well. He then worked in Detroit and Chicago.
“In 1966, I had an opportunity to move on – and cover news — joining the wire service United Press International (UPI) in Detroit. I was just learning the ropes when the 1967 Detroit riot, the worst race riot in modern U.S. history, broke out. Deadly. I grew up fast as part of the UPI coverage team.”
He was then promoted to UPI in Chicago, later, returned to The Herald to cover growth and development in fast-growing South Florida, and later competed and won a fellowship in Business and Economics Journalism at Columbia University in New York.
“From Columbia, I joined The Detroit News, where I pioneered what I called ‘management reporting,’ applying the concepts taught in business school to everyday reporting. I wrote about how much it costs to put a single cop on the streets of Detroit; how some local millionaires – Henry Ford II, Max Fisher, and A. Alfred Taubman – joined a half-dozen colleagues to acquire a massive Southern California piece of seaside land, the Irvine Ranch; to study community power and its use by the most influential leaders in Southeastern Michigan.”
He also planned and led The News’ coverage of the 1980 presidential election and the Republican National Convention in Detroit.
In 1984, McGill became editor-in-chief of the trade publication, Automotive News; the leading newspaper covering the global automotive industry.
Academic and Scholar
“Lots of people were surprised when I made the change from journalism to academics,” described McGill. “But, as I view it, journalists and scholars do much the same thing: gather information and report on it. The prime difference is scholars look for similarities in their data and build theory from it; journalists look for what’s different—that’s news. It all comes down to how well, how methodically, you gather your data and what you do with it.”
McGill was on the organizational behavior and leadership faculty of the Stephen Ross School of Business for 14 years, from 1993 through 2007.
“I taught BBA, MBA, and Executive courses, focusing on organizational behavior, the customer-focused organization, and human resources management,” explained McGill. “My research focused on decision-making, especially under stressful conditions, how organizations adjust to better serve customers, and on corporate global citizenship – how large corporations can be better citizens of their communities, which led to my co-authoring two books.”
McGill was also director of the Global Business Partnership, a consortium of research universities in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, which emphasized researching leadership in various cultures around the world.
“I have become a late-in-life baseball umpire, for three years now, primarily at the high school level, which I absolutely love. I had always enjoyed and followed baseball closely, from my time as a young sportswriter in Florida,” McGill disclosed. “Now, I umpire about 75 games per year. We work in pairs and most games are double-headers, so we rotate, doing one game behind the plate and the next covering the bases. Behind the plate, in a typical game, I’ll see upwards of 200 pitches; that means 7,500-8,000 pitches in a season – fastballs, curves, change-ups, at speeds between 60-85 miles-an-hour. It is rewarding to see up-close the athletic skills these young people develop.”
Devoted Husband and Family Man
“Kathe (Andy’s wife) and I met at the circus,” McGill described. “Mutual friends set us up on a blind, double date and we joined them at the circus at the Michigan State Fair Grounds. We had much in common—she is also a journalist, and a public relations expert. For our 20th anniversary, I gave my wife a circus painting to commemorate our first date. We have a wonderful daughter who teaches elementary school in the San Diego area. Our son-in-law also teaches, special ed, and we have two grandchildren, a 15-year-old boy who loves making video documentaries, and playing lacrosse and football, and an 8-year-old girl who loves dancing and soccer.”
In his free time, McGill enjoys running, reading, cooking and movies.
“I am an avid, daily runner,” said McGill. “Typically about three miles per day. Until some health setbacks in fall 2018, I had run 4,685 days straight. I was back to 265 days straight before another brief health setback in summer 2019, but am now back on track with more than 100+ straight days.”
McGill and his wife participate in community activist ways as well.
“These days, my wife, Kathe Wunderlich, and I have been part of the leadership team for a group of several hundred citizens from Pittsfield, Saline, Lodi, and Ann Arbor in opposing the expansion of the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport, for safety reasons, for the last 11 years. The expansion would allow larger and heavier aircraft to land only 93 feet over homes around the airport, which is too low and dangerous,” McGill stated.
I met Andy through his wife, Kathe. I was interested in Andy’s story because we have similar occupations and interests. Like Andy, I started working in journalism, first as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at the Michigan Daily, and later wrote for such publications as the Ann Arbor News, The Ann Arbor Observer, The Ann Arbor Independent along with other local and national publications. Highlights of my journalism career include interviewing Senator Paul Simon about privacy for a national publication and earning two awards from the Michigan Press Association on “Remembering 9/11” and also about the Pall-Gelman water crisis.
Additionally, I earned three State of Michigan teaching certificate majors at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and began my teaching career in 1993 as a Michigan Professional Teacher, mostly teaching mathematics, but all other subjects as well, and I am currently an online teacher, having also taught in the traditional classroom.
In terms of academic/scholarly work, my undergraduate degree is from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where I studied education, engineering, and math; earned three State of Michigan teaching certificates and wrote an honors thesis related to creativity and education. I have earned three graduate degrees. My Master of Science is in Mathematics Teaching and Learning from Drexel University. My Master of Arts is from Eastern Michigan University. And I recently earned an Education Specialist degree from UWF. I also see many common bridges between the worlds of journalism, teaching, and academia. And also like Andy, I cherish time with family and I wish to continue to learn and contribute forever.