One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville
Cedarville professor Dr. Mark Caleb Smith on a television newscast.

80 Years of Service Leaves Indelible Legacy

by Ryan Bower, Assistant Director of Public Relations

Over the past four decades, Cedarville University has undergone major changes on campus, including construction of new buildings, the implementation of new undergraduate and graduate programs and moving into the NCAA for its athletic programs. 

When the 2016-17 academic year opens in August, a pair of retirements in May will have a profound impact on the fabric of the university. Both Mike DiCuirci, senior professor of music, and John McGillivray, associate professor of kinesiology, have been educators and “coaches” at Cedarville University since the 1970s. Combined, they’ve impacted countless students and colleagues during their nearly 80 years of service at Cedarville. 

McGillivray has been coaching soccer since 1974. DiCuirci “coached” aspiring musicians in the classroom and the university’s pep band since 1979. They’ve both influenced many students’ lives, and their absence from the classroom and arenas of their profession will be missed.

Although they will be departing at the conclusion of the current academic year together, their arrival to Cedarville University couldn’t be more different. 

DiCuirci never planned on teaching at a college — his dream was to be a high school band director. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in music from the University of Michigan and, clearly, southwest Ohio was not on his short list for places to work. But shortly after his conversion to Christianity he met Cedarville University’s former president, and current chancellor, Dr. Paul Dixon, at a Bible conference. His life changed trajectories quickly. 

“I met Dr. Dixon at a Bible conference, and he asked me if I’d be interested in teaching music theory at a Christian college,” said DiCuirci. “He asked for my resume, which I didn’t have at the time, so I scribbled some things down on a napkin. A short time later I got a call to visit Cedarville and from there, God showed me where I was supposed to be.”

He’s been a staple of Cedarville’s music program ever since, leading its jazz band, pep band and symphonic band to national acclaim. DiCuirci has also become a staple in the community for his work in organizing Cedarville’s annual Christmas concert, which draws thousands from the region and is considered by many as the kickoff to Christmas.

Though McGillivray graduated from Cedarville in 1970, coaching soccer at his alma mater was never on his radar. In fact, he knew almost nothing about the sport when he was asked to coach the men’s team in 1974.

“I really had no soccer knowledge,” said McGillivray. “I was a football guy. I wasn’t even sure how many players were supposed to be on the field in soccer. Fortunately my first team was extremely talented, which allowed me to learn quickly without too much pressure.”

But despite his early lack of soccer savvy, McGillivray thrived and amassed 375 career victories before announcing his retirement from coaching in February. He coached the Yellow Jacket men from 1974-97 and the women from 1998-2015.

His teams combined for 10 conference titles and multiple NAIA and NCCAA national tournament appearances. In his final year at the helm, Cedarville’s women’s squad earned a berth in the NCAA Division II national tournament.

But for both DiCuirci and McGillivray, it’s not about personal accomplishments. It’s about the work they’ve done to help students succeed in life. Ultimately, both men want to be remembered not for what they did, but how they did it.

“It’s my hope that people will look at my time here, and know that I have given it my best shot,” said DiCuirci. “I want people to know that I followed the Lord’s will and because of that, He’s allowed me to help mentor students and impact their lives.”

“I hope that God’s been able to use me as a positive influence in the lives of my players,” said McGillivray, who will continue to teach part time. “It’s my hope that we’ve created an environment that has nurtured them in their walks with Christ.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,711 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit

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