Southeastern has long had a reputation of being a friendly, caring university community that is often referred to as the Southeastern Family. Caring, a Southeastern core value, nurtures self-worth, dignity, hope and resilience. Associate Professor of Mathematics Dr. Brian O'Callaghan exemplifies caring in the classroom and through his charitable giving to the Southeastern Foundation.
Since joining Southeastern's faculty in fall of 1988, Dr. O'Callaghan has cared for his students, supporting their success in the classroom and in life. Before arriving at Southeastern, he taught at several universities. "The culture at those universities was different," says Dr. O'Callaghan. "Here, we partner with our fellow faculty and students to give our very best - to make sure they succeed in their academic endeavors. Southeastern Faculty truly care about their students. There is a respect - an honest concern for their wellbeing. There is a unique atmosphere of friendliness and collaboration between faculty and students here - this is simply not true at all universities. Southeastern is special."
"I'll do anything I need to do for my students to succeed. Sometimes I am a social worker - as young as they are - many have real problems at home or with family and friends. I exercise compassion in the classroom - it takes six weeks to build trust with my students and by the end of the semester there is a real connection." This is most rewarding for Dr. O'Callaghan. Sometimes he says to his class, "Does anyone here today have any problems? Granted, I'm much better at math problems... but I'm here to help."
There are two organizations near and dear to Dr. O'Callaghan's heart. Southeastern and the West Highland White Terrier Club of America. Both are remembered in his estate plan. "I want to help foster and continue the cordial relationship that exists on this campus between faculty and students, says Dr. O'Callaghan, "and Southeastern has given so much to my life. In my early days, I taught part-time with a Master's degree while working on my PhD. Southeastern provided the opportunity for me to give my Dad one of the proudest moments of his lifetime- when I walked across the stage and received my doctorate. "
Dr. O'Callaghan hopes his bequest will be enough to fund an endowed chair for the Mathematics department. His charitable goal is provide resources for faculty to improve their scholarly activities, enhance research capabilities, and to help recruit top quality mathematicians to conduct research at Southeastern.
"Early on in my career, the University helped me tremendously. Faculty is challenged to do projects, to publish, to present at conferences. My colleagues here are wonderful. Because of their support and involvement, I've published locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. This work never would have happened without the collaborative, supportive environment we have at Southeastern."
"We all care and relate to our students." Dr. O'Callaghan also adds with a smile, "I am very fortunate to continue to have the opportunity to do what I love to do each and every day. I am passionate about teaching; and not only does Southeastern give me the opportunity to do what I love; they also pay me for it!"
"My charitable intent is to help support, foster and continue the collegial relationships that currently exist between faculty and students. I am excited today about that relationship. What inspires me? I teach, I watch and when I see the light bulb go off for the first time for one of my students - I still get chills. Nothing in the world feels that good - it is the most rewarding moment."
Southeastern Faculty and staff are friends, mentors, and leaders-and they are committed to student success, in their studies as well as in life. Some faculty and staff members, like Dr. O'Callaghan, take their time and talent to the next level by strengthening our culture of philanthropy through their financial support. Those University members who give outright gifts, who give through payroll deduction, or who remember Southeastern through their estate plan all play an important role in the overall growth and development of the University -- now -- and for generations to come.