In Remembrance: Retired Lt. Gen. Otto J. Guenther '63, Chair of the McDaniel College Board of Trustees
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of retired Lt. Gen. Otto J. Guenther ‘63, chair of the McDaniel College Board of Trustees. A special remembrance in honor of Otto is being planned for Homecoming.
Retired Lt. Gen. Otto J. Guenther '63, chair of the McDaniel College Board of Trustees, died on Oct. 14 at the age of 80.
Guenther is one of 12 military generals, and among the highest-ranking, to ever graduate from the college. A proud supporter and mentor of the Green Terror Battalion, he served on the Board of Trustees since 2006 and was named chair in 2019.
A special remembrance in honor of Otto is being planned for Homecoming.
Read the message from President Jasken:
It is with deep sadness that I share the news that our courageous Board Chair, Otto J. Guenther, passed away on October 14 at the age of 80.
A 1963 alumnus, Otto majored in Economics and was a member of the Green Terror Battalion Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program at the college. He was also in the College Choir, chaplain of the Gamma Beta Chi fraternity, and played intramural sports. After four years of ROTC, he was commissioned on June 3, 1963, and began active duty in the United States Army on June 30, 1963. He served in the U.S. Army for 34 years, where he held various command and staff positions, and received numerous military awards and decorations including the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge, and the Army Identification Badge, to name a few. Otto was among the highest-ranking of the 12 military generals to graduate from McDaniel (formerly Western Maryland) College. After retirement from the Army, he became vice president and general manager for the Federal Division of Computer Associates. He concluded his professional career as general manager and corporate executive vice president of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems’ Tactical Systems Division.
In 2006, Otto returned to the Hill to serve on the McDaniel College Board of Trustees. He served as vice chair and chair of the Building and Grounds committee, chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee, and a member of the Executive, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Committees, and in 2019 was named chair of the board. Otto’s patience, compassion and strategic approach to complex situations served him well in this role as he helped navigate multiple executive-level searches, a presidential transition, initial stages of a strategic planning process, and challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. During his time as chair, the Board of Trustees was presented with the John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB). This award recognizes higher education governing boards that demonstrate exceptional leadership and initiative.
In addition to his service on the Board of Trustees, Otto graciously shared his time and talent with the McDaniel Community serving as a member of the Western Maryland College Heritage Society, an active mentor and supporter of the Green Terror Battalion and overseeing numerous committees on campus, including most recently the Presidential Inauguration Committee. He also played a lead role in developing McDaniel’s Military Legacy Scholarship for all military veterans, active-duty military personnel and their children. For his steadfast commitment to McDaniel, Otto was awarded the college’s Trustee Service Award (1996), Alumni Community Service Award (2013), and the Alumni College Service Award (2016). In 2019, Guenther was named to the U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command Hall of Fame and in 2021, he was inducted into the Army ROTC Hall of Fame. He was also named a 2021 Veteran Champion of the Year in Higher Education by G.I. Jobs magazine, which publishes the Military Friendly® Schools list. This past May, The Lieutenant General (R) Otto Guenther Leadership Award was created and awarded for the first time to honor his lifelong dedication to both the Army and McDaniel.
Otto’s servant leadership has left an indelible mark on this institution and everyone who had the honor of knowing him. As we mourn the loss of this incredible leader and friend, may we always remember his strong character, warm personality, and the excellent example he set of how to lead a life well lived.
Our thoughts are with his wife, Jan, and the entire family at this difficult time. A special remembrance in honor of Otto is being planned for Homecoming this weekend and a celebration of life is being planned for November 15. Additional arrangements will be shared once they become available.
Julia Jasken, Ph.D.