Dr. Michael McKee

Dr. Michael McKee

Dr. McKee, who lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, was born in Coffeyville, Kansas and raised in Topeka. While in his last two years of high school and the first two years of college, he served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves, attaining the rank of corporal. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in June, 1960, majoring in sociology and being active in the University Theatre and the Notre Dame Glee Club. His love of music kept him active as a vocalist all his life and resulted in him singing at the Kennedy Center and at the Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center with the Washington Oratorio Society. He also sang for many years with the Reston Chorale and the St. Thomas Choir, both in Reston, Virginia and with the Choir of the Incarnation in Charlottesville.

While in college, he also was a cadet for four years in the Notre Dame “Fighting Irish” Army ROTC. During his Junior year he was the Drill Master of the ND Drill Team and in the Summer of 1959 was ranked first among cadets in the ROTC Camp for 49 universities and some 1,450 cadets at Fort Riley, Kansas. Due to his rifle proficiency at this camp, he was one of two cadets selected to compete at the National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. Here he qualified at the top or "Master" level.

 McKee became the highest-ranked cadet or "Brigade Commander" his Senior year. There were 995 cadets in just the Army ROTC. As a Distinguished Military Graduate, he was awarded an Army Regular Commission in 1960, choosing Infantry as his branch and the 101st Airborne Division, the famous “Screaming Eagles,” as his first assignment. He also received the University's "John J. Cavanaugh Award" upon graduation.

McKee was then accepted into graduate school at the top ranked Sociology Department in the nation, Columbia University in New York City. The Army allowed him to go on "Excess Leave" to obtain a graduate degree. His studies were interrupted by the Berlin Crisis of late 1961 and he joined the 101st at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Soon after being promoted to First Lieutenant, and just prior to the Army consolidating all parachute training to Fort Benning, Georgia, he graduated from the last class of the division's Airborne School ("Jump School") in December, 1961.

In following years he first served briefly as an infantry platoon leader, then completed his division's CBR (Chemical, Biological and Radiological) School, became Class Commander of his Infantry School at Fort Benning and the First Sergeant of his Ranger School class (in Georgia and Florida). Again serving as a platoon leader, he successfully took over command of his company when the Captain in charge was severely injured during a jump which began a major, weeks-long maneuver. Later assigned as the S-2 (Battle Group Intelligence Officer), he next graduated from the Joint Services CBR School at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Back to Fort Campbell again, he worked as the S-2 during the critical Cuban Missile Crisis, graduated from Jumpmaster School, earned the Expert Infantryman's Badge and soon became rated as a Senior Parachutist with the 101st, where he was to command two more airborne infantry companies, each having 256 men.

In late 1963, McKee was selected for the highly competitive assignment as an Adviser to Vietnam. In early 1964, while leading his company on its last maneuver prior to his departure for overseas, the company suffered an accidental explosion. Captain McKee spent the next year in a burn ward, followed by another year in plastic surgery. The Veterans' Administration evaluated him as 90% disabled and the Department of the Army as 60%.

Following his medical retirement from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he returned to education, receiving a Master's degree from Columbia University in 1968, followed by a Doctorate from Notre Dame in 1975. His lifelong commitment to education continued a family tradition. Both parents and his brother David (Class of '64, Sgt., Army Intelligence) were educators, as is his son. As he often said, becoming an educator was unavoidable, surrounded as he was with the joy of all of their accomplishments. His father was a music teacher and administrator who also received his Masters from Columbia and his mother, a concert cellist, was a music teacher as well.

After earning his doctorate, he served as a professor of medical sociology at Penn State Medical School, at Purdue University and as Chairperson of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work at St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame. After taking a year off from teaching to be the Executive Director of the St. Joseph Hospice in South Bend, he again taught in the Medical School at Georgetown University. Following several years serving as an executive in a hospital and for not-for-profit organizations, he retired. Soon, however, he was asked to return to teaching and for years taught World History down at the high school level in Virginia. The author of a successful college textbook, editor of two other books and numerous scholarly articles.