Loyola Magazine

Leaving a legacy

Planned gift from Ilona McGuiness, Ph.D., will support need-based scholarships

As a writing professor, Daniel M. McGuiness, Ph.D., gave many students a strong foundation in writing and inspired their love for the written word. He was highly respected and well-loved by his students.

After he died of Parkinson’s disease on Nov. 18, 2012, his wife, Ilona McGuiness, Ph.D., decided to establish a scholarship fund in his memory to continue his legacy, and some of the many alumni whose lives he had touched contributed to the fund.

That scholarship his wife established is given to students with financial need who are writ­ing majors concentrating in creative writing. As McGuiness, who was dean of first-year students and academic services at Loyola at the time, was looking toward the future, she decided she wanted to do even more to sup­port future generations of Loyola students.

So she generously started a scholarship fund named for her and her late husband that would be fully funded through a $1 million bequest after her death.

That legacy, through the Drs. Daniel M. and Ilona M. McGuiness Scholarship Fund, would support students with financial need who are in the Honors Program and majoring in writing.

“Loyola’s faculty already give to the University in so many ways, through their teaching and mentoring of students,” said Brian M. Oakes, ’99, MBA ’10, assistant vice president for advancement. “For a faculty member to make a financial gift, as well—particularly through a planned gift like Ilona’s extraordinarily gener­ous bequest—is truly inspiring and has a profound impact on the future of the University.”

Because the final funding will be given through her bequest, McGuiness would never actually see a student benefit from that scholarship.

That was, until Chris Miller, ’15, and his parents decided to make a gift to honor Mc­Guiness and learned of her scholarship fund. They pledged to pay the $50,000 difference toward fully funding the scholarship so McGuiness could see Loyola students benefit from the scholarship during her lifetime.

“My family wanted to do something to give back,” said Miller, who grew up in Baltimore and attended Friends School. “To put a scholarship in our name doesn’t really do the school justice. We wanted to make a gift to thank Dean McGuiness.”

Miller first met McGuiness as a transfer student from Bowdoin College. When Miller decided to major in philosophy and English, McGuiness supported his decision. She served as a mentor to him throughout his time at Loyola, checking in with him from time to time and celebrating his academic success.

During his final year at Loyola, Miller was involved in a terrible car accident over spring break. As he was recovering and worrying about graduating on time, he turned to McGuiness. And she came through.

“I probably have 150 pages to write, and I’m recovering from concussions,” Miller recalled. “It’s critical to have people like Dean McGuiness on your side. She was the quarterback calling the plays.”

McGuiness contacted Miller’s professors to arrange for manageable deadlines that would keep the senior on track to graduate on time.

“He’s a really strong student, and he did the work,” she said. “I was so proud of him. He spent all summer writing papers. He just burrowed in for weeks.”

Today Miller works in sports broadcasting for CBS Radio and lives in Baltimore’s Charles Village neighborhood, not far from Loyola’s Evergreen campus. He teams up with another broadcaster for “On the Corner,” a weekly show that delves into the latest sports topics.

When Miller and his parents, Doug and Sheri, decided to make a gift to Loyola, they knew they wanted to honor McGuiness, who had been so supportive and influential.

So one day in the not-too-distant future, McGuiness, who is now vice president of academic affairs at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y., will have the chance to see a Loyola student—perhaps like Miller himself—benefit from the scholarship bearing her name and her husband’s.