Honorary Degrees

Honorary Degrees

Jack T. O'Connell
  • Jack T. O'Connell
Jack T. O'Connell

Educator/Legislator

California State University, Channel Islands

California State University alumnus and former state Assembly member, state Senator and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack T. O'Connell is a devoted member of our community, an inspiring role model for students and educators, and an accomplished political leader in this state.

Mr. O'Connell was born in Glen Cove, New York. In 1958 he moved with his family to Southern California where he attended local public schools. Mr. O'Connell was raised in Oxnard and graduated from Oxnard High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from California State University, Fullerton and earned his secondary teaching credential from CSU Long Beach in 1975. Subsequently he returned to his high school alma mater to teach government classes.

Mr. O'Connell most recently served as the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, chief of California's public schools and head of the California Department of Education. Prior to that, he was a state Senator and Assembly member for 20 years representing portions of Central and Southern California. He is the author of numerous landmark education bills in both the California Assembly and the State Senate, and has worked diligently to improve public education in California.

In particular, while a legislator Mr. O'Connell played an important role in the creation of California State University, Channel Islands and in supporting its growth and development. In 1997 Mr. O'Connell authored SB 623, which approved the transfer of the former Camarillo State Hospital to the California State University system. In 1998 his second bill, SB 1923, was approved by Governor Pete Wilson to facilitate the financing and support of the transition for the 23rd and newest CSU campus. Afterward Mr. O'Connell continued to support the university during the following budget process which enabled the campus to begin building the academic infrastructure that led to the official opening in 2002.

Mr. O'Connell has been a loyal supporter of CSU Channel Islands through his efforts at the state level and by providing an outstanding public service example to university students and alumni. Thus, it is especially appropriate that this honor is conferred in conjunction with CSU Channel Islands, reflecting his long-term association with the campus.

In recognition of his lifetime commitment to education as a teacher, legislator and as the leader of the California K-12 system, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Channel Islands are proud to confer upon Jack T. O'Connell the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.