As the year draws to a close, the Northern Review will be saying goodbye to a professor to whom we are particularly close: our advisor, Dr. William O’Connell. After sixteen years as a professor at ONU and thirteen years as an advisor for the Northern Review, O’Connell will be retiring.
Dr. Eva McManus, Professor of English, detailed the jobs O’Connell has done. She explained that he made sure the English Department budget allowed for field trips and conferences and that computers in the department’s labs were equipped with the most up-to-date technology for student use. “(This expertise) has put our majors ahead of many when applying for jobs and internships,” she said.
O’Connell has also had a large influence on the students he has taught. “He’s worked with so many students, both in the department and outside, to train them in journalistic techniques such as proper interview procedures, good writing, and so on,” she said of his influence on the Northern Review staff.
As advisor for the Northern Review, O’Connell’s already-full job list was added to. Under his advising, the Review has also experience a great deal of change. “When I first came to ONU the newspaper was a four page, black and white tabloid that was laid out using an old waxer and past-up copy. There were only two working computers in the newsroom,” he explained. “Over the years, with the help of many people on campus we were able to transition into a four color broadsheet that is now sent to the printers in digital form.”
When asked what the most rewarding part of advising the campus paper has been, O’Connell cited working with the students. “They have kept me young,” he said. After retirement, O’Connell plans to travel and fish. “I love to fish, and my wife loves to travel,” he explained. “We will combine the two, and I will be matching wits all over the country with creatures whose brains are the size of my thumbnail. Some would say an uneven advantage for the fish.”
Though he will be retired from ONU, O’Connell will likely be on campus with frequency. His connection to the university will remain strong. “Our two sons are ONU graduates, one in professional writing and the other in graphic design. Our daughter was married in a church just outside of town, and we held her reception in the McIntosh Ballroom. When our youngest son and his wife married they did so in the ONU English Chapel, and held their reception in the ballroom. This August we will complete the cycle when our oldest son returns from Oregon with his fiance and is married in the chapel, with the reception, of course, in the ballroom.” he said.
Finally, O’Connell offers a piece of advice to upcoming journalists: “Despite the fact that the journalism profession appears to be in the doldrums, it will not remain so for long. Today, the public wants and demands multimedia options – from streaming video online to downloadable apps so they can receive the news on their cell phones. They want multiple options: reading the news online, picking up a newspaper or watching television. Consequently, journalists must give them those options or lose their audience. I am an eternal optimist when it comes to the journalism profession,” he stated. “We will always have and need story tellers.”