It’s been a while since Tim O’Connell has called NC State home. He graduated in 1994 with a master’s in public administration and a master’s in parks, recreation and tourism management.
From there, Tim went onto a 20-year career with the YMCA in North Carolina, most recently serving as vice president of operations for the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina. In that job, Tim saw the far-reaching impact of NC State. He felt the pull to come back.
“What brought me back was moving away and seeing NC State’s effect on the state,” he says. “I could see it in the communities I was in with the YMCA. I could see it in the rural communities and the textile communities.”
Tim joined the Alumni Association in December as the associate executive director for membership. We talked with him about returning to NC State and his role in the Alumni Association.
His background: I’ve been in North Carolina for about 35 years. I grew up in the Triangle. I’ve been married for 20 years. I’ve got two kids, Delaney and Keegan.
Favorite NC State memory: One of the neatest experiences was when they set up a dinner one night with Bill Friday. Growing up in North Carolina, I knew him as one of the great leaders in the state. He was so interested in our education. We were in the Velvet Cloak Inn and I remember we all had to find a suit.
On returning to NC State: I’ve been gone from the area five years, but I had to re-walk the campus. In 1991, when I was here as a student, I would mountain bike on Centennial Campus. I’d fish in Lake Raleigh. And now it has modern research facilities.
His role at the Alumni Association: My role is to excite our alumni about the work of the university and to get them engaged and building the future with each other. …Since I’ve gotten here, it’s been getting to know the key volunteers and meeting with university staff.
On the importance of being a member: In this day and age, they say it’s not your 401k, it’s your network. I’d say it’s imperative.
The most rewarding experience since he’s been back: Taking the time to walk campus and seeing the students. The future’s being built with them here and now.
Why he’s Red and White for Life: Because of the character and values the university represents — ingenuity, hard work and an appreciation of the state’s natural resources. What NC State is about is what I want to be about.