Dedicated to serving students
Longtime hospitality professor honored by national group
March 1, 2017
McGuirk was in his element in February when the Club Managers Association of
America kicked off its annual conference in Orlando.
He was surrounded by
30 of his University of Wisconsin-Stout School of Hospitality Leadership students,
who had held fundraisers and paid their way to attend. Also in attendance were
many of his former students, now managers at clubs around the U.S.
When one of the
latter, UW-Stout alumnus Randy Ruder, general manager of the Beach Point Club
in Mamaroneck, N.Y., began to speak about a longtime professor and CMAA
supporter, McGuirk guessed something special was afoot.
It was. Ruder presented
the surprised McGuirk with a plaque commemorating his 40 years of being
“dedicated to fostering the development of the club management industry’s next
McGuirk, 78, of
Menomonie, who also has been teaching full-time at UW-Stout for nearly 40
years, said he feels honored to have been part of the lives of so many students
and that it’s the reason he’s still teaching.
“I thought about all
of the work, effort and time and the ups and downs of working with the
students. It’s special to be part of their success. It’s very rewarding. It’s
better than the paycheck,” he said.
“I could have
retired 15 years ago, but I really enjoy pushing the students. I give them a
dose of reality. When students come back to campus, there’s always a big thank
you. You’re part of a kid’s life when you’re teaching. I’d really miss the kids
if I wasn’t teaching. I’d probably die within a year,” he said.
McGuirk helped start
UW-Stout’s student chapter of CMAA when he was a student in the mid-1970s. In
fact, UW-Stout and Florida International University were the first student
chapters in CMAA, which today has about 50 student chapters with 1,600
students. Overall, CMAA has 6,500 members representing 3,000 clubs, such as country
clubs, athletic clubs and yacht clubs.
president Tim Komaromy, of Algonquin, Ill., helped get the ball rolling on
McGuirk’s award, and CMAA national officials quickly were on board. Ruder is on
the CMAA Board of Directors.
“What makes Phil
special is that he has the best interest for every student at heart,” Komaromy
said. “He has a relationship or connection with absolutely every
hospitality company you can think of. If you walk into his office and say, ‘I
want to work at the Four Seasons Maui or at a restaurant in northern Minnesota,’
he will whip out a business card and say, ‘Here is who to talk to.’”
Kathy Collins, a 1994 UW-Stout graduate and managing
director of the Wisconsin Badger chapter of CMAA, and Kayleigh Apel, a 2012
graduate and food and beverage manager at Somerby Golf Club west of Rochester,
Minn., wholeheartedly agree.
“Phil is consistently looking out for the best interests of
his students and working tirelessly to offer relevant experiences and
opportunities for continued education for each and every one of them. He is generous
with his time, talent and resources. Phil is as dedicated today to his students
as he was back then,” Collins said.
Apel said McGuirk “is always looking out for the students
and truly cares about their future. I know that I can reach out to Phil for
anything, and he will do everything in his power to help. He has always been
extremely genuine, and I respect that because there are so many people who want
to sugarcoat things instead of being upfront and honest.
“I appreciate a professor who tells me I can achieve any
dream I may have, but I truly respect the professor that will share their past
experiences and prepare me for the real world. Phil possesses both those
qualities. He wants you to reach for the stars, but he will also tell you about
the work and dedication needed to be successful. Stout and CMAA are so lucky to
have him be involved with their programs, and I could not imagine my career
without his support and guidance,” Apel said.
From the Vietnam War to hospitality
teaches classes in Club Management and Principles of Food Service Operations as
well as overseeing the 150-plus students who have co-ops at clubs each year.
A graduate of
UW-Stout’s hotel, restaurant and tourism management major in 1976 and
vocational rehabilitation master’s program in 1981, as well as the Culinary
Institute of America, he taught Quantity Food Production at UW-Stout for 30
years. He taught hundreds of students how to work in a team atmosphere in a
“I was fairly tough
on students, very demanding, but I’ve mellowed over the years,” said McGuirk,
who remains an avid runner despite two hip replacements.
Apel saw that
toughness. “When I first met Phil, I was extremely intimidated. He
seemed stricter and more gruff than other professors at Stout, and that scared
me. But the more I got involved with CMAA and worked with him on a consistent
basis, the more he became my greatest supporter. He made my time at Stout
amazing,” Apel said.
can be traced in part to serving in the Army from 1963 to 1974, including five
tours in Vietnam and Laos with the Army’s Special Forces. “I lost a lot of
buddies over there,” he said.
He also can trace
his interest in hospitality and club management to his military days. He
wrapped up his military service by being offered a chance to manage an officers
club on Okinawa in Japan. He liked it and decided to pursue a degree in
hospitality, landing at UW-Stout and never leaving.
He’s a long way from
his family home, a farm in Northern Ireland. He emigrated to the U.S. in the
1950s at age 16 to live with an aunt in the San Francisco area.
“I love the beauty
of this campus and working with the students and alumni, who are very, very
loyal to UW-Stout because they’ve had a good experience,” McGuirk said.
McGuirk, a professor in UW-Stout’s School of Hospitality Leadership.Middle: Phil McGuirk, right, receives a plaque for 40 years of service from CMAA's Randy Ruder, a UW-Stout alumnus.
Bottom: Phil McGuirk teaches a Principles of Food Service Operations class in Heritage Hall.