‘I truly believe that what makes Kent State great is the immediate and direct result of May 4, 1970’

Maureen McFarland tells Veterans Day audience that lessons learned from tragedy made university stronger, influenced her calling to serve at Kent State following military service

"I'm as proud to say I'm a Golden Flash as I am to say I'm a Marine."

Maureen McFarland, Ph.D., said her 20-plus years of service at Kent State University, with its distinct history and commitment to values, have reinforced her decision to leave military service for higher education.

McFarland, an associate dean of academic affairs for the College of Aeronautics and Engineering at Kent State and a retired lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Marine Corps, delivered the university's Veterans Day address. She told her fellow veterans that one of the aspects that led to her decision to become a Golden Flash in 2002 was the university's response to the tragic events of May 4, 1970, when four students were killed and nine were wounded by Ohio National Guardsmen who opened fire during a student protest.

"I'm grateful to say that from my first moments on Kent State's campus, walking around in full uniform, I felt no dissent, judgment, antagonism or negativity because I was a Marine," McFarland said. "In fact, quite the opposite. I found my military-based perspective valued, respected, and welcome, and the more I learned about and experienced Kent State University from that military perspective, the more I grew to respect the university. 

Watch McFarland's speech:



"What I saw in Kent State back then ... was an institution which encourages open dialogue in discussions about May 4, its historical context and the broader issues it raises," McFarland said. "The university seeks to promote reconciliation and understanding bringing together people with different perspectives to engage in meaningful conversations.

"When I was offered a full-time position at Kent State, I chose to leave active duty because of what I saw, as a mature, multifaceted and resilient response to tragedy. One that faces hard questions, acknowledges its past even if it’s painful or uncomfortable, and always tries to move forward with empathy and understanding and common ground."

McFarland said she has spent half of her life in service to her country and she sees Veterans Day as a day to promote empathy and understanding, lessons the university has learned and now showcases to others.

"I truly believe that what makes Kent State great is the immediate and direct result of May 4, 1970."

Maureen McFarland Speaks at Veterans Day 2023

McFarland graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering before commissioning as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. She served on active duty as an electronic countermeasures officer, completing three combat tours. McFarland was the first female navigator in her squadron and the third female navigator in the U.S. Marine Corps. She worked as the officer selection officer supporting Kent State before transitioning to the Marine Corps Reserve.

There, while working at Kent State, she completed another combat tour, served as an accreditation officer for Marine Corps University, taught electronic warfare training and served as the commanding officer for Combat Logistics Battalion 453, leading more than 1,100 Marines nationwide. McFarland retired after 20 years of honorable service at the rank of lieutenant colonel.

President Todd Diacon and Maureen McFarland Cover Their Hearts During the playing of the Star Spangled Banner at Veterans Day 2023

McFarland received many honors and awards with the U.S. Marine Corps, including two Meritorious Service Medals, three Air Medal Individual Awards, several Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. She has been active with many professional organizations, including the American Association of University Women, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society for Engineering Education and the Association for Aviation Psychology. Her memberships include the National Business Aviation Association and Women in Aviation International.

She joined Kent State in 2003 as an adjunct professor. Since 2004, she has served as an associate professor of aeronautics, aeronautics program coordinator, senior academic program director of aeronautics and interim associate dean of academic affairs. In her current role as associate dean of academic affairs, McFarland assists the dean of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering in the overall undergraduate administration of the college.

McFarland earned a doctorate in educational psychology and instructional technology from Kent State and a Master of Science in Business Administration from Boston University.

POSTED: Monday, December 11, 2023 01:54 PM
Updated: Monday, January 29, 2024 11:33 AM