By KARLIN HOFFMAN
The start of the new school year at the University of Mary Washington brings a lot of transitions with it. Helping to ease the burden of these transitions for students and faculty alike is UMW professor of communication Timothy O’Donnell, who recently assumed the new role of associate provost for academic engagement and student success.
O’Donnell, who worked at the University of Mary Washington for 15 years, formerly served as the director of debate, professor of communication and the director of the University’s Reaffirmation of Accreditation from 2010-2013. He also served on several other committees and worked to revive debate at historically black colleges.
O’Donnell received his Bachelors and Master’s degrees from Wake Forest University, and then continued on to receive his Ph.D from the University of Pittsburgh.
According to his university biography “He has taught courses in public speaking, argumentation and debate, public argument, rhetoric of controversy, rhetoric of science and rhetorical theory and criticism. He has had articles published on such topics as the art of the debate speech, adolescent culture in argumentation, climate change and the future of debate. O’Donnell has made numerous scholarly presentations throughout the United States on a wide range of subjects, including the rhetoric of climate change, rhetoric of science controversy, rhetoric of technology, public argument and the national science policy, the art of public speaking and the history of intercollegiate debate.”
This new title puts him in charge of initiatives and support services, such as the on-campus Writing Center and Speaking Center, as well as the Offices of Disabilities and Academic and Career Services.
“I am most excited to work with people such as the provost, Jonathan Levin, and the president, Rick Hurley, to advance the institution,” said O’Donnell.
Amanda Watring, a junior and recent transfer to UMW is grateful for the student services the University offers.
“Student services at the University of Mary Washington have been very helpful to me by providing me with a small loan to take classes. If I did not receive this loan I would be unable to afford the cost to further my education. Therefore this has been a huge advocate to my life.”
However, O’Donnell’s plans extend beyond working just with new students.
“I am also looking forward to working with student leaders to make sure the things that the student body needs and is asking for will work and work well to assure that students have every chance to excel,” said O’Donnell.