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Distinguished Alumni

Robert Monaghan '67

Robert Monaghan '67

Robert Monaghan was a member of the Pioneer Class at Grand Valley. He graduated with a BA in 1967, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Sociology. He has been a tremendous donor to GVSU, was one of the first presidents of the GVSU Alumni Association, and also has given back by serving as a commencement speaker. He was recognized by GVSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) through the 2007 CLAS Distinguished Alumni-in-Residence program.

I was a member of the Pioneer Class of what was then Grand Valley State College where I became a member of the first class at GVSC in the fall of 1963. My major was Political Science. I graduated in June of 1967 and I believe that I was the first recipient of the Political Science Department Award. I fondly remember Don Herman and Bill Baum from whom I took most of my PS courses. I was also on the first rowing crew in 1964 and was the first Head Resident Advisor of Copeland House in 1966-67.

In my senior year when I began to apply to various grad schools, I was shocked to find out that GVSC was considered to be an unaccredited college. It turns out that the North Central Association would not grant accreditation until after the first class had been graduated. I began to receive rejection letters on that basis. At that time, Professor Bill Baum also taught during the summer at the University of Iowa.  One day, I was complaining to him about the basis upon which I was being rejected by graduate schools.  His response to me was that if I would consider the University of Iowa, he would make a few calls.  The result, thanks to him, was that I was accepted to the International Relations program there.

Career wise, I spent 34 years in the corporate business world holding mainly executive level Human Resource positions for GE, Howmet, Ciba-Geigy, Siemens, Chris Craft Yachts and Howmet Corporation. At Siemens (from 1996-2002), I led a team that was tasked with centralizing all of the payroll and benefits administration for all Siemens employees in the US (approximately 90,000). I took an early retirement incentive package in 2002 and took a position as the Executive Director of a nonprofit arts organization for the next 2+ years. I then became a licensed Realtor specializing in listing and selling residential real estate in Texas and Florida

Since beginning my third retirement 1/1/2010, I have considered myself to be a “professional volunteer.” In 2010-2011, I volunteered at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, FL, where my primary responsibility was to greet the public and orient them to the mission and guide dog training process. The most gratifying part was the day when visually impaired clients would be introduced to their guide dog.

From 2012-current, I have volunteered for two organizations: Victory Therapy Center and the Keller, Texas Police Department. Victory Therapy Center delivers equine assisted therapy to mentally and/or physically disabled children. I serve primarily as both a horse leader and as a trainer for new volunteers. To see these kids light up when they see and are placed on their horse is very fulfilling for me, and I am very proud of the fact that I contributed more volunteer hours (729) in 2013 than any other volunteer.  

My volunteer job with the Keller Police Department is as a Volunteer in Police Services which you are only allowed to do after completing the Citizen’s Police Academy, a thirteen week course, and then receiving advanced training in police patrol work. The mission is primarily to put the police department in front of the public as much as possible which includes me driving a police patrol vehicle in the community. I contributed close to 300 hours in 2013. I also organized the DFW GVSU Community Outreach Week projects in both 2013 and 2014.  

Significant people that I will always remember from GVSU include Presidents James Zumberge and Don Lubbers, Professors Donald Herman and William Baum of the Political Science Department, Professor Charles Irwin, who was the original Athletic Director and Rowing Coach, and Professors Richard Flanders and Donald Hall.

I have repeatedly told anyone that would listen that I directly attribute my success in the business world to my undergraduate education at what is now GVSU. I have always attributed a great deal of my success in life to GVSU, and I have been a fervent supporter both financially and in other ways to GVSU as a form of payback.  I’m proud to be a charter member of the Gillette Society.  I’m also proud to have supported the fund drive for the Alumni House and for the Pew Library as well as specifically the GVSU Rowing Club.  I’m also proud to have underwritten the cost of the plaques in the Alumni House honoring the members of the Pioneer Class and the original GVSC faculty. Such great memories!

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