Behind the work that takes place in labs, offices and classrooms across Case Western Reserve University’s campus, there are more than 3,000 staff members helping to make it happen. Whether it’s connecting students with opportunities to help them succeed or making sure common spaces are clean and safe, staff members are integral to achieving the university’s mission. In honor of Employee Appreciation Day, celebrated at the university March 10, we’re showing our gratitude by highlighting just a few of the outstanding staff members at CWRU.
The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards wants students to make good decisions. But when they fall short, staff members are there to support them and get them on the right track. Leading that charge is George O’Connell, associate dean of students and director of the office.
In O’Connell’s nine years at Case Western Reserve, he has been an assistant director of student conduct and residence hall director. The Daily sat down with O’Connell to learn more about his work at the university.
1. What brought you to CWRU?
The position was a great fit for where I was in my career at the time and colleagues had spoken very highly of CWRU. My on-campus interview was a very positive experience and it seemed like a great fit for my approach to student conduct. With student conduct, I value an emphasis on fairness and consistency where we balance what’s going to best support the student with what’s best for the community.
2. What does your role at the university entail?
My office administers the Student Code of Conduct which covers most of the behavioral expectations for our students. Additionally, we work with the Office of Undergraduate Studies to administer the Undergraduate Academic Integrity Policy. I also consult with different areas on campus about policy and managing student behavior concerns.
3. What is a typical day like for you?
It’s a combination of investigating potential policy violations, meeting with students, other meetings, and organizing and facilitating conduct and academic integrity hearings.
4. What’s your favorite thing about working at CWRU?
Besides working with the students, I really appreciate the partnerships and collaboration with colleagues, especially within the Division of Student Affairs. When I’m working with other offices to make decisions and solve problems, I never doubt that the underlying shared goal is figuring out what is best for the students.
5. What’s your best memory at CWRU?
It’s hard to think of just one, but I always appreciate the sense of accomplishment and closure at the end of an academic year. I always enjoy seeing students we worked with in some capacity find success by getting to the end of their academic program and graduating.
6. What do you wish more people knew about your position or office?
People sometimes joke that we’re the place that punishes the problem students. But actually, the vast majority of the students we work with are kind, caring and smart people who just made a poor choice. While accountability and consequences are necessary, the vast majority of the conversations we have with students are more focused on education and learning.