Todd and Marion McKinney
Get to know Todd and Marion.
For more than 30 years, Todd McKinney has been a major part of student life at Ursinus. He takes pride in his work with students, he’s inspired by them, and he’s quick to point out that they’ve been just as impactful on his own life. Marion McKinney has enjoyed a long career in residence life, serving several other institutions—most recently West Chester University—before coming to Ursinus as director of student engagement. Ursinus Magazine caught up with the McKinneys about community, marriage, and that Ursinus Quest question, “How can we live together?”
When it comes to Ursinus, it’s the people who give it life, purpose, and meaning.
Marion: “I always told Todd that we have the best job in higher ed because of the amazing students.”
Todd: “It’s the people you meet and the people you come to know who really have an impact on your life. And you hope that you can affect their lives just as much. The best part of my journey has been the relationships, the memories, and the experiences. It’s like one of our four questions—How do we live together? I’ve been asking that my entire time here, having those conversations, and really striving to make a difference and be part of a community.”
The greatest gift you can give another person is to share a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.
Todd: “So many Ursinus people have had an impact on me in so many ways. John Strassburger. Charles Rice. Joe Melrose. Paulette Patton. Heather Lobban-Viravong. Christian Rice, who I knew as a student and is a colleague now. I’ve known Christian for over two decades and he along with so many others were always interested in how else he could serve the college. These are people who care so much about the institution and that is part of the Ursinus ethos—that sense of giving back and sharing wisdom and making change.”
Marion: “Students bring this wealth of knowledge with them to a college community, and they help us look through new lenses. Experiencing that and talking to them—that’s a privilege. It’s exciting, because when you take the time to sit down and listen, you can share in their experiences and in their humanity. I’ve always seen that from the people of Ursinus. It’s a remarkable institution because the people are remarkable, and it inspires you to want to serve.”
Todd: “It’s the embodiment of going the extra mile for others.”
In the McKinney household, you are family.
Todd: “Marion makes it special for folks. Whether its students, faculty, staff, or strangers she met in church or in the supermarket, she invites them into our home.”
Marion: “And by the time they leave, they’re family.”
Todd: “Anyone and everyone. The joke is that I think holidays are a time to relax, but there are anywhere between 10 and 40 people in our home on any given holiday. And when we’re saying Grace, I say, ‘If it was up to me, none of y’all would be here!’ I joke about that, of course. I am very thankful. It’s about putting other people ahead of yourselves.”
Marion: “That’s just life. You have to be able to provide an avenue for people to share who they are and what they can bring to a team or a family. Let’s make connections and remove boundaries. Let’s not focus on our differences. And as far as students—and even our own kids—just because they are younger doesn’t mean they can’t teach you things. We learn every day from them and that’s a blessing.”
Many people ask the McKinneys what it takes to have a successful marriage.
Todd: “I was asked to officiate the marriage of two of our alumni and they came over one Sunday, and we talked about life and faith and what it means to be in a marriage. And what I told them was that you truly have to put your person before you.”
Marion: “Everyone has their own perspective, but you have to respect your partner and respect your individuality. I love the beach, but Todd doesn’t. And even on days we’re doing our own thing, we always come back together and look forward to talking to each other about our days.”
Is there a place on the Ursinus campus that carries a particular meaning for you?
Todd: “Bomberger. That building just has reverence. You walk in there and you see the old wood and the stained-glass windows and sometimes the light hits the glass just right. There’s a serene calmness, a peace that I love, and so many things have happened in that space. Our son was christened there. Reverend Rice’s memorial was there. That’s the space.”
Marion: “The whole campus is just special. There are times when everything is completely silent and then you hear Bomberger’s bells and that’s just it. It’s so special because the campus is so peaceful and beautiful. It’s a moment like no other and there’s so much history.”