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Dayton Engineer

Getting and Giving Back Every Day

What inspires someone to give back to the University of Dayton for 20 years? It’s the things that happen on campus every day. For Margaret “Margie” Pinnell, that started on day one.

“My story is incredibly similar to most students’ stories,” said Pinnell, who was hesitant to consider UD because it was farther away from home than she wanted to be. “As soon as I stepped onto campus, the University really captured my heart.”

The University also recognized and fostered her potential. Since that first visit to campus, she’s earned a litany of titles. She’s the associate dean for faculty and staff development for the School of Engineering. She is the Bernhard Schmidt Chair in Engineering Leadership. She’s a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. And she is a Marianist Educational Associate.

Pinnell also led the School of Engineering’s signature service program Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service Learning for 10 years, including a trip with students to Nicaragua. “It’s not about doing for people; it’s about doing with them. I can’t say enough about ETHOS. Here I am supposed to be teaching, and I’m getting back so much from our students. ETHOS is so well in line with our Marianist mission, and it has a tremendous impact on our students as well as the people they work with.”

UD’s Marianist mission is one of the big reasons why she and her husband Brad, who worked at UDRI for 30 years, continue to make giving to UD a priority. They support ETHOS and the School of Engineering, Street Sounds (a club their son had a great experience in) and the general fund because they trust the University to make good decisions.

Despite all of her accomplishments, she is adamant that a lot of the credit should go to this place that she loves so much. 

“I don’t think I’d have been successful if I’d gone anywhere else,” said Pinnell. “I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence, and UD provided a nurturing and supportive environment. Because of that, I’ve always wanted to make sure that students like me had the same experience.”

Pinnell has done that philanthropically, but she’s also done it professionally. After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UD, Pinnell says she took a break. For her, a break meant raising a family while simultaneously earning a Ph.D.

“The whole reason I earned my Ph.D. was to come back and teach at UD,” said Pinnell. And that decision to give back — of her time and talent — is a gift that continues to benefit our students every day.

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