Scott McGinnis, PhD | Senior Academic Advisor, Professor | Defense Language Institute

For nearly two decades, Scott McGinnis, PhD has served as a senior academic advisor and full professor at the Defense Language Institute, a U.S. Department of Defense educational and research institution, in Washington, D.C. As an expert in Chinese language and literature, his tenure in academia commenced in 1985 as a graduate teaching associate at the Ohio State University in Columbus and as an assistant professor of Chinese at the University of Oregon between 1990 and 1993. Dr. McGinnis continued at the University of Maryland for 10 years until 2003, with his last four as the executive director of the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages and an associate at the National Foreign Language Center.

Alongside his primary position, Dr. McGinnis was appointed the McDermott Endowed Chair Guest Professor of Chinese at the United States Military Academy in 2003. Over the years, he has also offered his expertise on a visiting and instructor basis at the University of Pennsylvania, Wake Forest University, Middlebury College and Indiana University. To remain abreast of his field, Dr. McGinnis maintains professional affiliation with the Modern Language Association of America, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and Chinese Language Teachers Association, of which he has served as president, vice president and executive board member between 1993 and 1998.

Dr. McGinnis served in the U.S. Navy between 1977 and 1981, during which time he sought to build himself a career in the humanities. In an aptitude test for the military, he scored high, meaning that the Army would select the language he could do based on his rank; thus he pursued Chinese. He attained a diploma in basic Chinese from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in 1978, along with a Bachelor of Science in history from the University of the State of New York, now Excelsior College, in 1980. Continuing his education, he achieved a Master of Arts in the Chinese language from the Ohio State University in 1984 and a certificate in advanced studies from the Beijing Language Institute in China in 1985. In 1990, he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy in East Asian languages and literatures from the Ohio State University.

Finding great success throughout the course of his career, Dr. McGinnis was the recipient of the A. Ronald Walton Award from the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages in 2016. In 1995, he took home a Summer Research Award from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Maryland, among other achievements. He attributes his success to attention to detail, as learning the Chinese script has a certain sense of logic and order. He also credits his experience to his management positions, adding that he was the only academic advisor with 250 students enrolled, keeping track of them all with some degree of order. Looking ahead, Dr. McGinnis looks forward to retiring and expanding the horizons of the field and his business with the use of technology.

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