Tag Archives: Michael O’Connor

Michael O’Connor named to Metropolitan State Foundation Board

Metropolitan State University welcomes Michael O’Connor to the Metropolitan State Foundation Board of Trustees.

O’Connor is director, strategy and project management/chief of staff with Medtronic, Plc. He has over 27 years of professional experience in the medical device industry in greater Minnesota and in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. He brings to the Foundation Board an ability to make corporate connections and to advocate on behalf of Metropolitan State as an alumnus of the institution. In addition to Medtronic, his corporate experience includes 3M and Pfizer.

Michael O’Connor
Michael O’Connor

“I am honored to be a part of the Metropolitan State Foundation Board. I very much looking forward to working with the board and making contributions by utilizing my talents, background and networks,” O’Connor says. A native Minnesotan, O’Connor was born in Saint Paul, grew up in Maplewood, and has lived all of his life in Minnesota and the Twin Cities. He now lives in Lino Lakes with his wife and son.

O’Connor received his BA from Metropolitan State in 1992 and a minor in project management in 2004. He also holds graduate degrees in project management, technology management and business administration. O’Connor earned his PhD in civil engineering, majoring in project management, from the University of Maryland, College Park, A. James Clark School of Engineering. In 2012, he was selected as a Quality Fellow for the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and in 2014 selected as a Medtronic Technical Fellow.

In 2017, O’Connor was awarded the prestigious Harold Kerzner Award for Excellence in Project Management. He has also been recognized by the Minnesota Federation of Engineering, Science, and Technology Societies (MFESTS) Distinguished Science and Technology Professional Award in 2018. He is a former director at-large for the Product Development and Management Association, currently the co-chair for community outreach with the Minnesota Project Management Institute (PMI) and has volunteered with many groups, professional societies, universities and colleges over the past 40 years.

O’Connor has been recognized by universities and colleges for his community and educational work. He is an adjunct faculty member at Metropolitan State, The University of Wisconsin, Platteville and The College of St. Scholastica and teaches graduate-level project management, project capstone and culture and organizational courses. In his leisure, he enjoys being outdoors and is active in playing soccer, biking, running and tennis.

In addition, O’Connor recently became a regular contributor to PMWorld 360 Magazine, a digital project management publication that launched in March 2018, and will share his expertise with readers worldwide in the areas of leadership and quality.

“It is a distinct pleasure to welcome Michael to the board. He has already shown an extraordinary commitment to the mission, cause and purpose of the university,” says Rita Dibble, vice president of University Advancement. “He has been most versatile in applying his talents to diverse projects on the Alumni and Foundation boards from hosting an alumni gathering in Las Vegas to serving to review and revise the board’s bylaws. He embodies a Metropolitan State graduate and we look forward to much success together.”

Metropolitan State, a member of Minnesota State, is the Twin Cities public, urban, comprehensive state university providing lifelong learning, and competitive academic and professional degree programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels.

The mission of the Metropolitan State Foundation is to generate maximum public awareness, as well as governmental and private support, for Metropolitan State, and to assist the university in its development as a comprehensive, urban university in the Twin Cities metropolitan area for changing and diverse student needs.

Metropolitan State University celebrates 102nd commencement

A classmate’s enthusiastic appeal to Metropolitan State University students to seize upon their success and to “make the best out of your struggles” brought the audience of 2,000 to its feet as student Kossi Ayigah addressed the graduating class.

“Many of you sitting here have a story to tell. Throughout our educational journey, we have all overcome many obstacles and life challenges, but we made it,” Ayigah said.

Approximately 1,058 students received their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees this semester, with 785 students participating in Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises Saturday, April 28, 2018, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. To accommodate Metropolitan State’s growing student body, the spring commencement ceremony took place as two programs. The ceremony was livestreamed and is archived for viewing at https://youtu.be/j6PAjtFOslE.

From French-speaking Togo, Ayigah came to the United States in 2013. As a non-native English speaker, he struggled through his classes at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Speaking up in class was impossible, raising his hand was a “no-no.” He had to  search the dictionary for words to understand the context of his reading assignments; it took him nearly three hours to get through five pages. He had yet to learn that growth requires patience. Ayigah’s scholarly pursuits demanded even more from him when he transferred to Metropolitan State in December 2016.

“Along my educational road,life got harder. But regardless of my struggles and what was happening around me, I refused to be discouraged. I woke up every day with my head up, my chest out, a smile on my face, and I made sure that I took advantage of every opportunity,” Ayigah told the graduates from the College of Liberal Arts, College of Management, College of Sciences, and the School of Urban Education. He speech can be viewed at this URL: https://youtu.be/Oc3ZP5u0i8o

Ayigah graduates with his bachelor’s degree in accounting, having won a scholarship from the American Institute of Certified Professional Accountants along the way. He is a recipient of the President’s Outstanding Student award, representing the College of Management.

As the ceremonies opened, President Virginia Arthur addressed the graduates with the promise that their preparation at Metropolitan State has equipped them to become leaders, both in their careers and in their communities. She reminded them that, under Metropolitan State’s unofficial credo as the “University without barriers,” learning and pursuing a degree is possible in spite of obstacles, and education extends beyond a student’s life spent in the classroom.

“As one alumnus recently put it,” Arthur said, “We allow students to find their own passion and purpose and help them become lifelong learners, taking responsibility for the direction of their programs of study, and encouraging their active engagement in their community.”

Metropolitan State first admitted students in 1972. To date, 46,115 students have graduated over its 47 years as a higher education institution. At its founding, there were few options for students who did not fit the traditional mold: recent high school graduates seeking a residential experience. The founders were determined that Metropolitan State should be a “college for those who have no college,” and that it would honor the knowledge that learners brought with them to the university.  Metropolitan State now enrolls approximately 11,500 students and has a national reputation for innovative programs that empower students.

“Presidents often wish they had a crystal ball to see into the future. But as I stand before you today, and look into your faces, I can see the future—and I see that it is a bright and promising one,” President Arthur said.

Aaryka Pederson, President’s Outstanding Student award finalist, delivered the afternoon address to the graduates from the College of Community Studies and Public Affairs, the College of Individualized Studies, and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Her speech can be viewed at this URL: https://youtu.be/1OQLFtHs0M0

“When you meet a challenge in life, think back to how you persevered while earning your degree and you pulled yourself through. Be proud of yourself and of what you have accomplished,” Pederson said. She graduates with summa cum laude honors, with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

“You have already shown how strong you can be by making it here today, and I know that that strength will flow into the rest of your lives, to help empower you to do great things,” Student Senate President Heather Moenck said, addressing the graduating classes. “Whether you are going into a new career, graduate school, or just opening up a new chapter of your life, you are influential and powerful. Going forward, do phenomenal things, challenge opinions and create a positive change in the world.” Her speech can be viewed at this URL: https://youtu.be/cOkZMSYhOJo

Outstanding Student honorees recognized at commencement are: Kossi Ayigah, College of Management; Stacy Buschmann-Ford, College of Nursing and Health Sciences; Christopher Sugden, College of Liberal Arts; Cynthia Yoder, College of Sciences; Genevieve Calvillo, College of Individualized Studies; Jennifer Cannon, College of Liberal Arts; Raelene Caswell, College of Community Studies and Public Affairs; Rodrigo J. Sanchez, School of Urban Education; Tess Spence-Sing, College of Community Studies and Public Affairs; Jessica Stewart, College of Nursing and Health Sciences; and Taskin Hague, College of Management.

Other commencement participants included:

  • Amy Gort, provost and executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs
  • Cheryl Tefer, trustee, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees
  • Michael O’Connor, president of the Metropolitan State University Alumni Board
  • August Hoffman, president of the Inter-Faculty Organization
  • Kristine Hansen, director of Alumni Relations