April 20, 2011
Christian Basi, BasiC@missouri.edu, 573-882-4430
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Brian O’Connell has been the rector and vice chancellor of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) since 2001, where he is best known for guiding the university to success. Since O’Connell assumed leadership at UWC, the university has emerged as one of the best educational institutes in Africa. He helped UWC overcome post-apartheid disenfranchisement and emerge as a leader in higher education. For his exceptional work within the field of higher education, University of Missouri officials presented O’Connell with an honorary degree during the May 2011 Graduate School Commencement Ceremony.
“Brian O’Connell is one of the most thoughtful educators in South Africa,” said Rodney J. Uphoff, an MU professor of law. “He has pushed the University of the Western Cape to be one of the top universities in all of Africa.”
O’Connell, who was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1946, received a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of South Africa in 1969. He also received a master’s degree in education from Columbia University in New York in 1985, where he was a Fullbright Scholar.
Since becoming rector and vice chancellor at UWC, O’Connell has established a strong academic exchange program with MU. The purpose of the MU/UWC exchange program is to advance mutual understanding between the institutions’ faculties and to demonstrate the ability of the two institutions to cooperate in teaching, research and service.
O’Connell is a member of the South African National Aids Council and Higher Education in South Africa. He also is a former board member of the Desmond Tutu Trust and the Teacher In-Service Project. He has had multiple works published on various educational topics and has delivered hundreds of addresses at conferences and seminars.
“Professor O’Connell’s imprint on the future of South African higher education is truly remarkable,” said Ronald J. Turner, University of Missouri executive vice president emeritus.
Honorary degrees are awarded to graduates or former students who have achieved distinction. Degrees also are awarded to people who have rendered distinctive services to the state or university, as well as people of high distinction from around the world.