One of the highest honors Millersville University bestows is the President’s Medallion, which recognizes individuals, businesses or organizations who have demonstrated a commitment to the universal values of higher education. Dr. William B. McIlwaine, emeritus professor, received the award at the University’s Convocation in the Winter Center on Aug. 28.
McIlwaine, a member of Millersville’s faculty from 1958-91, is a distinguished educator and respected leader in the Millersville community and beyond. He is also a decorated veteran of World War II.
“Dr. McIlwaine, whose perseverance in the face of adversity, and whose far-reaching and trailblazing work in higher education has impacted thousands of students in Pennsylvania and across the country, is a treasure to Millersville University,” said Dr. John Anderson, president of Millersville. “As a lifelong educator, Dr. McIlwaine epitomizes the spirt of this award.”
A member of what is referred to as “the greatest generation,” McIlwaine served in the 3rd Army, 80th Infantry Division, 317th Infantry Regiment. As a soldier, he fought across Europe including the Battle of the Bulge where he was wounded by artillery fire. In May 1945, his unit liberated inmates from the Nazi concentration camp in Ebensee, Austria. For his bravery and contributions, he was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge and Four Theatre of Operation Stars.
After the war, he completed his education at Boston University—earning a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. In 1950, he married his sweetheart Melva. They had two sons and two daughters and made a wonderful life together in Millersville.
At Millersville, he was the first director for grants and awards— developing proposals and requests that brought more than $1 million to the University; chairman for the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education; and emeritus professor of science education. McIlwaine also served as chairman of the earth sciences department, where he taught geology. Through his leadership he fostered a joint effort with the geology department of Franklin and Marshall College. He also developed a program in student teaching for the Navajo Indian reservation.
He and his beloved wife, Melva, who passed away in 2009, established a geology scholarship at Millersville as well as the McIlwaine Master Class for young musicians to hone their skills and abilities.
Although McIlwaine has been retired for more than two decades, he remains an active member of Millersville University. He serves on the University’s Council of Trustees and MU’s Foundation Board. He also serves as treasurer of the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees (PACT).
On July 7, 2014, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors honored McIlwaine for his outstanding academic and military service. This fall, McIlwaine was selected to be the Grand Marshal of the Millersville Parade on October 24, an annual event held during homecoming festivities.
McIlwaine has received numerous accolades and awards over his lifetime. A few of those include being selected as a scholar to participate in the Diplomat/Scholar Program, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.; selected to participate in the First Inner-American Conference on Culture, Cognition and Science, Panama City, Panama; selected to be the science educator member of a delegation to visit China for a series of academic exchanges and he was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, National Association of Boards of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators.
In addition to Millersville, McIlwaine has dedicated his time to many other local, regional and national organizations. A few of them include Phi Delta Kappa, the National Collegiate Honors Council, the National Science Teachers Association, Boy Scouts of America, YMCA Board of Directors of Lancaster, Pa., Millersville Borough Council – serving as president 1972-74, and the National Association Boards of Examiners of Long Term Care Administrators– serving as chairman, budget and finance committee, treasurer, vice president and president.