River Valley CC Professor Honored

Mike O’Connell in Running for International Award

An international accreditation organization announced this week that SEA member Mike O’Connell, the Business Department Chair at River Valley Community College, was honored with an award for teaching excellence.

Mike O'Connell

Mike O’Connell

O’Connell, who is the treasurer for the college’s SEA chapter, is one of 10 regional winners of the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs’ International Teaching Excellence Award. He’ll be honored at the organization’s conference in June and, along with the other regional winners, is a candidate for the international prize. O’Connell said he was thankful for the award, but was also quick to praise his colleagues.

“It’s nice to be recognized and win an individual award like this, but individual awards can only be won with a great group of people who may not get recognized,” he said. “This award could not have been won without the support of not only the business faculty but all the faculty, staff and administration here at RVCC.”

O’Connell said winning the regional award and being considered for the international award is a big deal for the college.

“Regionally, we’re competing against larger schools with more students,” he said. “It just shows that you don’t have to be a big school to have expertise in a program. We’re a small school, but it shows that RVCC — and the system — can compete against anyone, anywhere.”

The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) is the only accreditation agency for associate degree programs. The school was accredited by ACBSP five years ago.

After a career in the corporate world, O’Connell said he answered an ad in the newspaper seven years ago looking for an accounting teacher. He’s been at River Valley ever since.

“Our program has expanded quite significantly in the last seven years,” he said. “It’s gone from about 45 students to approximately 150 students.”

The college itself has added many new programs as well, which O’Connell said is essential if it is to compete for students.

“If you stay the same, you fall behind,” he said.

As Dr. Susan Henderson, the college’s Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs, pointed out, this isn’t the first time that O’Connell has been honored.

“Michael has always shown himself to be both an outstanding professional instructor and continues to demonstrate compassion and concern for his students,” Henderson said in an ACBSP press release. “In his relatively short period of time here at River Valley Community College, he has been awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching excellence, received the President’s Award for contributions to River Valley Community College and been nominated by the students three times for the Pi Theta Kappa teacher of the year Award.”

The ACBSP Annual Conference is set to take place June 27-30 in Chicago. You can read more about the organization at  www.acbsp.org.


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