Margaret "Peg" O'Connor, a member of the Reinhardt communications faculty since 1987, was selected by the College's staff to receive the institution's first Reinhardt Mission Award.
Presented during the Faculty Appreciation Luncheon on March 11, 2003, O'Connor was selected as "the faculty member who most exhibits the Reinhardt mission, one who changes lives for the better through continuous and life-long learning, one who also integrates faith and learning, and who educates the whole person by developing the intellectual, social, personal, vocational, spiritual, moral and physical dimensions of their students," said Director of Human Resources Donna C. Merrell.
O'Connor expressed surprise at being selected. ï¿½I think Iï¿½m fortunate to work here with so many fine people. I look around the room, and I call many of you not just colleagues, but dear, wonderful friends, some of the best friends Iï¿½ve had in my life... The staff here at Reinhardt is just exceptional. They are kind people, good people, and to receive something special like this award from this group, well, Iï¿½m just overwhelmed. I am deeply touched.ï¿½Her colleagues were not as surprised by the staffï¿½s selection.
"I was delighted to see Dean Peg O'Connor receive recognition for her contributions to this institution," Reinhardt President Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood said. "She is a wonderful asset to this College. I believe that her award is all the more important in that is was offered by our staff. It is further indication of the very positive relationships, the teamwork, that exists at our College."
O'Connor, a resident of Alpharetta, Ga., has taught communication at Reinhardt since 1987. She currently serves as an assistant dean of the College, director of the Falany Performing Arts Center and dean of the new School of Communication Arts and Music. With the faculty rank of assistant professor, she has 24 years of experience in teaching communications, writing, English, journalism and public speaking at the college level. O'Connor earned her bachelor's and masterï's degrees in communication from Rowan University (Glassboro, NJ). In the mid-1990s, she was instrumental in creating Reinhardt's four-year programs in communications, and for several years, she advised campus newspaper staff.
The luncheon also included praise for Reinhardt's faculty from Isherwood, Merrell and Vice President and Dean of the College Dr. Earnest J. Zeller.
Merrell said, "Reinhardt faculty are a group of scholars dedicated to educating our students as whole people. You are caring, family-oriented instructors who put your students first... In working with Dr. Isherwood, you will lead us into a new era of growth and academic excellenceï. There is a mountain of evidence that one person really can make a difference. I believe that each and every one of you is already making a contribution to that end."
Isherwood said, "I am so very impressed by your energy, your competence, your commitment and your creativity. In every way at Reinhardt's all about the community that we build. You are the center of that community. While in many ways the community is for the students, the success of that community is in your hands, and in your hands only. We always need to ensure that we have the resources that will permit us to continually renew ourselves... One thing I am going to be asking you over and over again is: 'What's next?' We need to be continually involved in renewing ourselves. It's the only way to keep the spirit alive. It's the only way to keep this the exciting adventure that it is. Most importantly I wanted to say thank you. I wanted to that you for your ability to both care and challenge, to combine them both in what we do with our students is both an art and a science."
Zeller said that during his last year at Reinhardt when he served as the institution's chief academic officer he was surrounded "by heroes of the best kind -- the kind that stay in the trenches and do the work they are called to do... This faculty keeps learning as it keeps moving in the direction it has to go. Emerson said, 'Do not go to where the path may lead. Instead go where there is no path and leave a trail.'It's a great pleasure for me and a delight and an honor to be a part of the faculty in the various roles that I've had."
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