Million Dollar Donation to OCC Creates "Meg O'Connell Center for Social Justice and Community Impact"

Posted on January 31, 2022

SYRACUSE – Onondaga Community College today received a gift of $1 million dollars from Eric Allyn in honor of his wife, Meg O’Connell, who is OCC’s former Interim President and Chair of the Board of Trustees. The money will be used for the creation of the “Meg O’Connell Center for Social Justice and Community Impact” which will provide support for students in volunteer and service-learning opportunities. Through these opportunities, students will use their undergraduate experience to support local efforts, gain work experience, and use their expertise to improve our community.

 The program will build to a cohort of 20 students each year. Students will receive a stipend and additional programming. Because 80% of OCC’s students work 30 hours a week or more, the stipend will help fill in the financial gap from lost wages while students volunteer or perform service-learning. Since the vast majority of OCC graduates remain in Central New York, developing their leadership skills is key to the region’s future.

Margaret “Meg” O’Connell has a lengthy and distinguished career of community leadership. She served as Interim President of Onondaga Community College from 2012 to 2013 prior to the hiring of current President Dr. Casey Crabill. She was also Chair of OCC’s Board of Trustees from 2010-2012 and from 2013-2015.

O’Connell is Executive Director of the Allyn Family Foundation and leader of the Syracuse Urban Partnership which constructed and operates the building at 484 South Salina Street where the Salt City Market is located along with a grocery store, offices, and mixed-income apartments.

Other organizations she has contributed her time and expertise to include Blueprint 15, the Early Childhood Alliance, ABC Cayuga Play Space, Work Train, CenterState CEO, Syracuse 20/20, Friends of the Central Library, Skaneateles Library Association, Wells College, Planned Parenthood of Rochester/Syracuse, and the Skaneateles Central School District Board of Education.

“With this generous gift from my husband of 35 wonderful years, OCC will be able to continue to provide opportunities for its students to become the future leaders of our community – and I couldn’t be more honored and proud to be a part of it,” said Meg O’Connell.

“Meg O’Connell’s commitment to improve lives through her service to the entire Central New York community is an inspiration to all of us. Her contributions here leading our Board of Trustees and as Interim President played a critical role in the College’s success. The support of Eric Allyn with today’s gift ensures future students will benefit in her name as they become the community leaders of tomorrow,” said Onondaga Community College President Dr. Casey Crabill.

"On behalf of the OCC Foundation Board of Directors, I am delighted to extend our great appreciation to Eric Allyn for this extraordinary gift honoring his wife, Meg O'Connnell, and her indelible commitment to Onondaga Community College and our community. This gift, one of the largest in our history, will support OCC students to engage with the community in work that will no doubt have an enduring impact on the future of Central New York. The OCC Foundation looks forward to engaging others to join with us in supporting this vision through OCC and its students,” said Mary Snyder, Chair, OCC Foundation Board of Directors.

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