Tunxis Community College professor of psychology, Fran O’Neil, Ph.D., received the Faculty Engaged Scholarship Award at CT Campus Compact’s 15th Anniversary Awards Breakfast at The Hartford Club earlier this summer, attended by Secretary of State Denise Merrill and representatives from 23 Connecticut colleges and universities.
Dr. O’Neil, who has researched and taught the history and culture of Native Americans of the Southwest for over 15 years, was one of three Connecticut faculty awarded at the event.
Her civic engagement projects with students have advocated for several of the Native American tribes during trips to the Reservations, including production of videos that are shared and distributed to the tribes and throughout Connecticut.
“While I am grateful, the importance of the award isn’t about the recognition, but in increasing the students’ and general public’s awareness of a very significant problem in the Southwest,” said Dr. O’Neil, who has brought over 25 students and many Tunxis faculty with her to the Reservations over the years. “Throughout major geographical areas, uranium mines have been abandoned and left open. The tailings, dust, and water are causing cancer at a very high rate among the Native American population.”
O’Neil has developed several courses on the American Indians of the Southwest that utilize her extensive research on Navajo, Mojave, and Pueblo reservations. In addition to sharing the culture with her classes, the public and campus, she has co-edited several books and organized special events in which tribal members visited Tunxis to talk about a range of topics, with special performances, exhibits, demonstrations and food tastings.
A Mellon Foundation grant recipient, O’Neil holds a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut, and has completed post-doctoral studies in psychology and psychiatry at Yale University. She has taught in the social science department at Tunxis for over 25 years. This fall, O’Neil is teaching “Navajo Indians” and “Native Peoples of the Southwest,” among others. She resides in Farmington.
For highlights of the Navajos and Dr. O’Neil’s work on the Reservations, see the video on YouTube http://bit.ly/132tP5O.
Connecticut Campus Compact (CTCC) is a statewide program dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement and community outreach that fosters learning. The organization is part of a national coalition of almost 1,200 college and university presidents who are committed to fostering a sense of social connectedness and graduating responsible citizens.