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The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Paul O’Connell

Photo+by+Paul+OConnell.+I+interviewed+Professor+Paul+OConnell+to+share+his+life+story+and+his+30-year+experience+at+Iona+University+before+he+retires.
Photo by Paul O’Connell. I interviewed Professor Paul O’Connell to share his life story and his 30-year experience at Iona University before he retires.

When you take a class taught by Professor Paul O’Connell, you will notice three things: His ungraded quizzes which emphasize careful thinking, his welcoming frankness with students, and his seemingly endless range of stories based on his experience. Viewing his role as one akin to a friendly local guiding someone through an area he is familiar with, O’Connell treats his students as mature lifelong learners. 

O’Connell always has a story to connect with what he teaches, drawing upon his experience as a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer and a medical malpractice lawyer for the largest law firm in Connecticut, Cummings and Lockwood. Ranging from humorous to surprising, O’Connell’s stories exude life’s unpredictability while the details grip your attention. 

Combining diverse experience and relatable honesty in the classroom, O’Connell provides a window into many professions in criminal justice and beyond, equipping students with the information necessary to make career decisions. “You see the picture, but you need someone who can provide you with the info necessary to make your own life decisions,” explains O’Connell.  

Mentored by the previous Department Chair, Father Joseph DeSanto, O’Connell found his calling as a professor at Iona University due to his admiration of the Christian Brothers’ dedication to interdisciplinary learning. O’Connell teaches in the criminal justice department, usually teaching Evidence and Procedural Law (CRJ 317) and Substantive Criminal Law (CRJ 305). 

Although O’Connell has many personal accomplishments and hundreds of students are now “O’Connell trained” as he sometimes quips, O’Connell is driven by his steadfast focus on nurturing student potential and empowering students to become their own strongest advocates.  

“I’m not the most intelligent person in the room. I presume there’s one or two individuals that have greater potential,” remarks O’Connell, “Only reason why I am teaching is I did it first and can point you in the right direction.” 

For over 30 years, O’Connell has taught with the Iona values of personal learning, public good and community. Now he is retiring from his professorship at Iona University. Thank you, O’Connell, for your ceaseless work on behalf of the criminal justice department and devotion to every student’s vision. 

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Adrian Vazquez
Adrian Vazquez, Assistant News Editor

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