News, On Campus, Featured Story

O’Neill, Pioneer Of BC Internet, To Retire After 40 Years

When the first Boston College website was launched in 1995, Jim O’Neill was there. He has been a part of the University for the last 45 years. After 40 years of work, O’Neill, an Information Technology Services employee, is retiring.

He received his Bachelor’s Degree from BC in 1974, followed by his MBA in 1981. He then became director of the BC Arts Festival, where he met his wife, Carol, who at the time was the director of the Arts Festival at Newton College. He then went on to hold a number of employment positions—the longest duration being his last position as the senior web administrator of Information Technology Services from 2001-2015.

“I hope that I helped BC and BC’s people make the transition to a much more interconnected world of information readily available in seconds, 24-7-365,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill helped bring the Internet to BC. During this switch, he was able to collaborate with other universities going through the same transition.

“You had the sense that this was something really new and likely to make a major change in the way BC people could share information with one another and with the world,” O’Neill said.

“Whenever I was panicked over a Web mini-crisis, I was relieved to see Jim O’Neill’s name come across my caller ID.”

-Melissa Lesica, the Office of News and Public Affairs

In an effort to find his niche at BC, O’Neill pursued a number of jobs in various departments, learning in each role how higher education institutions worked. He was also the administrative manager of University Libraries and the assistant dean for administration in GSAS.

“That background was very helpful when I started working on BC’s new public information resources on the Web and began to recruit help in building it from schools, departments, and offices all around the campus,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill was a selfless mentor who never talked down to anyone, said Mike Bourque, vice president of information technology.

Bourque said O’Neill was a leader within ITS, as well as a problem fixer, and a user advocate with a calm presence.

“Jim was an educator who prided himself on advancing other people’s knowledge in web technology and its power to make a difference,” Bourque said. “He would advocate for other people’s needs before his own.”

“I think I helped people work out how they could contribute to that shared information resource and avoid many of the issues that came up along the way,” O’Neill said.

Melissa Lesica, an employee in the Office of News and Public Affairs, explained that O’Neill was one of the first people she met who was outside her department. Whenever Lesica encountered a Web issue, she would reach out to O’Neill because she knew that he could assist her. He would teach her how to avoid the issue and then follow-up their conversation with a detailed email explaining the cause of the issue and the steps required to correct the situation.

“Whenever I was panicked over a Web mini-crisis, I was relieved to see Jim O’Neill’s name come across my caller ID,” Lesica said. “I knew at that moment that he would stick with the problem until it was resolved, and calmly teach me how to avoid the issue in the future.”

O’Neill’s biggest contribution, Bourque said, is that he mentored colleagues in ITS, as well as students and staff who worked in Web technology.

O’Neill explained that he has made many friends throughout his 45 years at BC and intends to keep in touch with all of them, especially with his colleagues in the ITS group.

“There are new places to go, things to see, things to do that are hard to do while you’re working a full-time job, and I wanted the time to do that while I’m still healthy and relatively able-bodied,” O’Neill said.

At O’Neill’s going-away party, he told everyone that BC is a great place because of the people that work and learn here, Lesica said. He challenged all of them to “keep it up.”

Featured Image Courtesy of the Office of News and Public Affairs

October 14, 2015