Prince William Sound College Director Dr. Dan O'Connor retires

by Green & Gold News  |   

Dr. Dan O'Connor
Prince William Sound College Director Dr. Dan O'Connor is retiring. His last day will be July 8, 2022. (Photo courtesy Prince William Sound College)

After serving as the president of PWSC since 2014, this July Dr. Dan O’Connor will say goodbye to the college as he enters retirement. Though he was initially at the college for a six-month interim position, six months turned into eight wonderful years. Under Dr. O’Connor’s leadership, PWSC joined with the University of Alaska, Anchorage system, and his steadfast efforts during his time here helped to grow and enrich the college in many ways.

Dr. O’Connor expanded the college by growing programs like Millwright, Marine Services Program, Nursing, Valdez Theatre Conference and Dual Enrollment for high school students in Valdez, Glennallen and Cordova.

Not only did he help to enrich these programs, but his leadership also strengthened ties with the community through partnerships with area industries, such as Valdez Fisheries Development Association, Alyeska Pipeline Services Company, Providence Alaska, Edison Chouest Offshore, Valdez City Schools, Chugach Corporation and the US Coast Guard.

Over these past years, he invested himself in the community and in the workplace, and the faculty and staff will be forever grateful for all he has done.

PWSC Assistant Director, Student Affairs, Shannon Stites, describes Dr. O’Connor as “the heart of Prince William Sound College.”

“He has helped expand our dual credit offerings and has partnered with the superintendents at the school district to allow or to approach the city for funding for dual credit programs a hundred percent and continues to do that year after year so that our high school students can receive college credit for free, which is huge. During the fiscal crisis that we've had through the UA system and uncertainties, he has always counted the employees as number one. He's personally invested in each of his employees. He has always had that personal touch. He knows all of our families... He is much more than a boss.”

Being “much more than a boss,” Dr. O’Connor has also invested his time in the community of Valdez.

Stites shares, “He volunteers at the food bank. At the senior center, he goes and delivers breakfast or volunteers his time over there. He is at every single basketball game and different sporting event throughout the school district. He is at city meetings. Anywhere the presence of Prince William Sound College needs to be, he is there.”

Assistant Professor of Outdoor Leadership, Dr. Benjamin Rush, mimics Stites's sentiments when it comes to Dr. O’Connor’s impact on the college and community.

“I appreciate Dan O'Connor and all the support he has given me during my time with the Outdoor Leadership program. There have been many changes with our program, and his support is the first step in making it happen."

Everyone that has ever worked with Dr. Dan O’Connor will tell you he is the ‘absolute best’ person to have on your team. Dan has integrity, honesty, humility and clear focus. He is a strategic planner and believes in teamwork. Much of what we have built these past many years is a direct result of [Dr. O’Connor’s] leadership, vision and hard work.”

As the (former) assistant to the president, perhaps no one has worked more closely with Dr. O’Connor than Dawson Moore. For Moore, working with O’Connor has been an amazing experience.
“I've had a lot of bosses in my life. Dan is my favorite, and it's not even close. From his comfortable demeanor to his frank way of speaking to his level-headedness... I love him and am grateful for the steadying leadership he's provided PWSC since he got here.”

Along with Moore, Stites and Rush, everyone at PWSC is forever grateful to Dr. O’Connor for what he has done for the college and the community over the past eight years. He’s left an indelible mark that will not soon be forgotten. We wish him well and know he will continue to do great things as he enters this next chapter of life.

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