Retired F.B.I. Agent Joins Dickinsonians in the Classroom

Becca Stout ’20, Staff Writer

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When Dickinson students walked into their first class of “Politics of Oil, Arms and War,” on Jan. 24, so too did 76-year-old retired F.B.I. Agent Dave Malarney.

In his email to Sherwood McGinnis, adjunct faculty in Russian, to request to audit the course at Dickinson, Malarney simply stated, “For many years I have been auditing courses at Dickinson and am interested in the above course this semester if you are okay with it.”

McGinnis said that Malarney has been a welcome and interesting addition to the class: “I have enjoyed having him in class. Other students seem to appreciate his being there.” Malarney always comes to class and participates in all discussions.

Malarney was born in 1940 in Michigan. He has been married to his high school sweetheart for the past 57 years. They have five children and 16 grandchildren together. Of everything in his life that he is proud of, Malarney declared that he is proudest of his family.

After high school, Malarney went on to Michigan State University in 1965, majoring in police administration. He chose this major knowing he wanted to become an F.B.I. Agent. When he was a little kid, he listened to a radio show about the F.B.I., which got him interested in potentially working for the them one day. At the time, the required major could only be found at three schools in the country, according to Malarney. After graduating, he worked during the day and attended a night law school. There, he learned of a program that would allow him to join the F.B.I. without a law degree, so he applied for this “modified program,” began working for the F.B.I. in 1970 and eventually dropped out of law school to be a full time F.B.I. Agent.

When he first began working for the F.B.I., he was a special, or street, agent. He worked in that position for about six years. He moved around a few times with the bureau, working in different branches before transferring to Washington D.C. to supervise headquarters there for three years. He spent the rest of his days with the F.B.I., working as the supervisor in the Harrisburg branch. Of all three positions, Malarney said that being a street agent was the best because, according to him, that is where all the fun is.

Once in the Harrisburg area, Malarney focused on corruption cases, which was another highlight of his career. He is satisfied knowing that he had a part in altering politics in Pennsylvania by solving many corruption cases. Overall, he said he enjoyed his career as an F.B.I. agent because he loved going to work and being exposed to great people. After retiring from the F.B.I. in 1997, he worked in a law firm for about five years before retiring permanently.

Malarney decided to start taking classes at Dickinson recently because he believes in the importance of working both the body and the mind. He said, “when you get older, it’s important to exercise your body, but it’s also important to exercise your brain too.” Classes give him the structured learning environment that allows for him to continue to push his brain. He decided to take classes at Dickinson because he read an article in which he learned of their program that allows senior citizens to audit courses. He said that, besides the wonderful courses, the drive is convenient, and the professors and students offer different and interesting perspectives.

Malarney’s first class at Dickinson was an American history course with Professor Pinsker. Since then, he has taken somewhere between ten to twelve classes over the course of five or six years, mostly in history but also in political science and the humanities. He said his main requirement for classes is that he prefers to only meet two days a week in the afternoon because he lives in Mechanicsburg and cannot make the trip every day.

“I’m very impressed with the students that are here,” says Malarney. “A bunch of smart kids who are dedicated. And I’ve always been impressed with the professors…they’re really excellent professors; they really know their stuff.”

He said he enjoyed every class he took, but out of all of them, “The Rise of Modern China” with Professor Strand stuck out in particular.

“It’s been a great experience,” says Malarney, “Dickinson is a lot of fun for me.”

Malarney says he has only three goals in life: to be a good husband, a good father, and a good grandfather. He says that if he could achieve those goals, he would be happy in life and everything else would take care of itself. “The key to being happy, I think, is you have to feel good about you,” said Malarney. So now, in retirement, Malarney looks back fondly on his days at the F.B.I. and cherishes his life with his family while reliving “that old kitchen table” as he explores knowledge and courses at Dickinson.