Headshot of Renee O'Connor

Staff Spotlight: Renée O’Connor

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 today (March 10), we’re showing our gratitude by highlighting just a few of the outstanding staff members at CWRU.

Headshot of Renee O'Connor
Renee O’Connor

Without a doubt, Renée O’Connor’s favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University is the people surrounding her at the institution.

“Nothing beats the amazing CWRU community,” said O’Connor, executive assistant and office manager in the Office of General Counsel.

But in addition to the friends O’Connor has made during her nine years at CWRU, she has become a fan of Sears think[box], the university’s innovation center and makerspace. After attending the dedication ceremony when think[box] opened in the Richey Mixon Building in 2015, O’Connor saw the possibilities the space offered and has undertaken many personal projects using the embroidery machine and laser cutter. She’s eyeing the 3D printers for her next project.

While not tied to her job, O’Connor considers the space one of her favorite things about working at CWRU (though, the center is open to the public).

The Daily talked with O’Connor to learn more about her day-to-day role at the university and what she wants others to know about the Office of General Counsel.

Answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

1. What does your role at the university entail?  

I support the general counsel in all aspects, but I also help all staff within the office and manage daily office operations, as well as helping whenever needed by our internal clients, which is pretty much all CWRU departments.  

2. What is a typical day like for you?  

Every day is different, some more challenging than others. Some days I have to troubleshoot issues while working through the masses of nonstop emails, all while working on whatever projects assigned and helping others as needed.  

3. What’s your best memory at CWRU? 

There are so many great ones to choose from. I’d have to say, even though it was extremely stressful and gave me sleepless nights, being on the planning committee and helping lead in executing the inaugural Innovation Week.  

I had the pleasure to work with and meet so many different people—trustees, alumni, entrepreneurs, faculty, staff and students. 

4. Prior to your current position, what has your career path looked like?

My career has always been in the legal profession. I started as a legal secretary in a very large law firm right out of high school, then moved onto working in boutique firms as a legal assistant, which included both secretarial and paralegal duties.  

For 23 years I was blessed to have worked for an exceptional attorney who was a great mentor and friend. What I learned from him is well beyond what any book could teach.

5. What brought you to CWRU? 

My previous employer retired, and I saw there was a job opening with the lead litigation attorney, so I applied, and the rest is history.

6. What do you wish more people knew about your position or office?

I think people are afraid of the attorney’s office. I have had people tell me how nervous it made them to receive a call from our office. The university attorney’s office is an “open door.”  We are here to help you. Although we are unable to help individuals in a personal capacity, we are here to help and guide for any issues that relate to university matters.  

We have an outstanding group. One of our objectives is to schedule lunch meet-and-greets with departments across campus so we can get to know you and you can get to know us. So don’t iDivert [a function on office phones that sends calls directly to voicemail] when I call; I’m probably just wanting to bring lunch! Remember, we are here for you!