Alumni Spotlight: from law enforcement to academics, McGuire’s focus remains on helping others
Meet Danny McGuire, a Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management alumnus who graduated in 2018 with a Master’s in Public Administration. While working in law enforcement, he returned to school, and he’s now the department chair of the Public Safety Programs, both Undergraduate and Graduate as well as Director of the Public Safety Institute at Calumet College of Saint Joseph in Indiana. We caught up with him to learn more about how Clemson prepared him for his second career in academics.
Q: Describe your career path since graduating Clemson.
At the time I graduated from Clemson University I accepted a position at my alma mater, Calumet College of Saint Joseph in Whiting, Indiana, as the department chair of the Public Safety Programs, both Undergraduate and Graduate as well as Director of the Public Safety Institute. The public safety management program is an accelerated undergraduate program for public safety professionals pursuing their bachelor’s degree while the public safety administration program is a graduate program of an accelerated format for public safety professionals. The inspiration for this career path was because I went into full-time education in 2013 from a duty-related injury that forced me into an early retirement after 20 + years of service in law enforcement. My law enforcement career included service with the Palos Heights Police Department as a cadet explorer and a community service officer; service in the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in a federally funded narcotics task force, the Northeastern Metropolitan Enforcement Group; as well as service in the Chicago Police Department as a police officer for which I served assignments in patrol, special operations, HBT (now known as SWAT). Later, after a promotion to sergeant, I served in the patrol and SWAT as the weapons of mass destruction safety and support team leader and later chief hostage negotiator. With that said, there was a certain point after leaving law enforcement that I really struggled with finding an identity in a new career of higher education. I had been in law enforcement since I was 18 years old and then at age 42, I had to reinvent myself. I struggled for years until I decided to go back to school again at Clemson University. Clemson really helped me gain the confidence to get back out there and really take charge of my new career path. Clemson gave me a new purpose and hope to continue my journey.
Q: What is a typical day or week like?
A typical week for me is teaching four classes and advising students, in addition to staying in touch with the public safety community by visiting different public safety agencies and volunteering. I coach and mentor many students and faculty in our program. The department has more 20 adjunct faculty members whom I supervise and more than 250 students in our program.
Q: What’s your favorite part about your job?
My favorite thing about this job is that I am still connected to the law enforcement field by helping the current public safety professionals achieve their academic and career goals. I am lucky to have the opportunity to help them on a daily basis which is why I do this job. It motivates me and drives me to help them do better for themselves. In the end, I’m still doing what I set out to do when I was 18 years old and got involved in law-enforcement– helping people. I’m helping them achieve their goals and reach success.
Q: How did Clemson help prepare you for your career?
I would not have had the confidence or the subject matter expertise to take a position like this had I not received the outstanding education from Clemson University and its stellar staff and professors. When people walk into my office at the college, they see all of my accomplishments from my former career as well as my bachelor’s degree, my masters in counseling psychology, my doctorate of education, and then they see my master of public administration degree from Clemson and ask “You went to Clemson?” And I always proudly say “Yes, I am a Clemson Tiger!”
Q: What was your favorite Clemson memory?
There are so many memories! To be fair, my fondest memory is of all the connections and friends I have made. I cherish my time at Clemson because of the family network. The education was great; however, it’s the bonds that I still have to this day with my classmates, professors, and the staff. I love going back to Clemson to connect with all of those cherished friends! Another memory that I cherish is when I received an autographed picture mailed to my home of Dabo Swinney thanking me for my service. It hangs proudly in my garage with all my other sports memorabilia. I hope to meet him someday.
Q: Are you involved in any community organizations?
During the past several years, I have been connected with several different community organizations. I spent time as the president of the Autism Society of Illinois, as my middle child is profoundly impacted by autism spectrum disorder. I’ve also been involved in several youth hockey organizations, as my youngest son has played hockey since the age four. I have served on boards and committees in several different facets. I am a piper with the City of Chicago Pipe Band and having been playing for 35 years, though I had stop playing for eight years due to my hand injury. We took 8th in the World Pipe Band Championships last year of 21 qualifiers and the only U.S. band. This year we are going back to win!
Q: Any advice to students?
Work hard and get it done! You can accomplish anything you put your mind to. Clemson is a wonderful inclusive place that makes you feel like you are at home! The culture, the staff, the professors, and your fellow students are all working hard to make sure you are supported and get what you need. I earned a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement management, a master’s of counseling psychology, and a doctorate of education emphasis leadership all while working full time as a police officer. Those experiences were great; however, Clemson changed everything for me and gave me the confidence, ability, and swagger to go out and be the best! Go Tigers!