I came across this site today after I had seen the CCSU Brian O'Connell Fund page on facebook. I had no idea Prof. O'Connell had passed away or had even been sick and I am sad to hear of his passing. I wanted to pass along the message that Prof. O'Connell was a great teacher and a great person.
I took Philosophy of Law with him as a student at CCSU about 10 years ago and it still stands out as my favorite course. His teaching style, demeanor, and enthusiasm made the class exciting, interesting, and fun. Now to make jurisprudence fun is no small feat, but that was Prof. O'Connell. I still have some of the papers I wrote in class along with his insightful notes.
I remember the stories he'd tell us about his previous life as an attorney and all of us thinking and asking amongst ourselves why he would give that all up to teach, and I believe it was because he was a born educator and he knew that he could make a difference in more young people's lives by teaching rather than being stuck in a courtroom. I'm sure he was a great attorney, but I know he was an excellent teacher.
With his assistance, a few other students and myself went onto re-establish the Pre-Law Society at CCSU. He was always ready, willing, and able to help us with anything or meet with us last minute. After I graduated CCSU I stayed in touch with him, I asked his advice on law school, careers, among other things and he was always there. As time went by I lost contact with him, but I know years later if I had a question or needed advice he would answer the phone or reply to an email. He went above and beyond his role as simply an educator, he was an advisor and a friend to his students and there are very few teachers I can say that about.
I feel sorry for all current and future students that they will never be able to learn from him, and I wish that they are lucky enough to have a teacher like him. I'm sure I am just one of hundreds of students that have the same story and can offer the same praise, but I wanted you to know that I am one more life that he affected and one more student he inspired. Godspeed Prof. O'Connell and thank you.
CCSU Class of 2000