Camarillo, Calif., Feb. 21, 2011 – Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) from CSU Channel Islands (CI) during their Commencement ceremony scheduled for Saturday, May 21, at 9 a.m.

“We are extremely pleased to present Jack with an honorary doctorate degree during our upcoming Commencement ceremony,” stated President Richard R. Rush.  “We would not be here today, providing a top-notch education to thousands of students throughout our region and state, were it not for Jack’s authoring the legislation that helped establish this university.”

O’Connell played an important role in the creation of CSU Channel Islands and in supporting its growth and development.  In 1997, O’Connell authored SB 623, which approved the transfer of the former Camarillo State Hospital to the California State University system. In 1998, O’Connell’s second senate bill, SB 1923, was approved by Governor Pete Wilson to facilitate the financing and support of the transition for the 23rd and newest campus of the California State University system.  O’Connell’s subsequent support of the University during the following budget process enabled CI to begin building the academic infrastructure that led to the University’s opening in 2002.

Jack O’Connell said, “I am deeply flattered to be recognized with this honorary degree from CSU Channel Islands.  As a product of the California State University system, I feel like I have come full circle in my educational and service career – working for the great state of California and Ventura County.  By providing a foundation for students seeking a public, higher education, it will enable them to successfully contribute to our state.   

"CSU Channel Islands is so fortunate to have the visionary leadership of Dr. Rush and his remarkable team who have worked hard to make CI the institution it is today."

In 2003, a variety of materials from O’Connell’s tenure in the State Senate and Assembly legislative period were donated to CSU Channel Islands’ John Spoor Broome Library to initiate an archival collection.  Most recently, he supplied documents related to his recent position as State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Some of his collection is partially opened to the public now with complete processing of the documentation expected by 2014.

O’Connell was born in Glen Cove, New York.  In 1958, he moved with his family to Southern California, where he attended public schools. O’Connell grew up in Oxnard and graduated from Oxnard High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from California State University, Fullerton and earned his secondary teaching credential from California State University, Long Beach. O’Connell returned to his high school alma mater to teach government classes. 

His political career began with his election to the Santa Barbara County School Board.  Starting in 1982, he served six terms in the California Assembly representing the Central Coast-based 35th district and was then elected to two terms in the State Senate, serving the 18th district.  He was elected as State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2002 and overwhelmingly re-elected in 2006.

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About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands (CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI's strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master's degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more about CI by visiting CI's Social Media.

The California State University (CSU) will reach a significant milestone of 3 million alumni during commencement in spring 2015 and has launched the world’s largest yearbook. The Class of 3 Million online yearbook is an interactive platform where alumni can create a profile and connect with the millions of other alumni from the 23 CSU campuses across the state. Alumni who sign up for the yearbook will also be entered into a special contest to win one of three $10,000 scholarships for a current or future student, sponsored by Herff Jones. For more information about the yearbook and the Class of 3 Million, visit