Albert O'Neill, political science '62, in his Tampa law office. He is the chair of the CLAS capital campaign scheduled to begin Fall 1997.
CLAS Alumnus Al O'Neill didn't have to look far when deciding where to attend college. As a native of Gainesville, it seemed only natural for him to become a Gator. But attending UF was just one of two great decisions he made. His second came when he decided to earn his degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. O'Neill majored in political science and has many fond memories of his education.
"It was, and still is, a very strong department," O'Neill said. "Dr. Manning Dauer was the head of it at the time and he had brought together an exciting group of faculty and students which made the topic interesting and alive."
After graduating with high honors in 1962, O'Neill left the Sunshine State and headed north to Harvard Law School. If asked about his secret for success - in law school and as a tax attorney - he won't hesitate to tell you it was his liberal arts background at UF that enabled him to excel.
"I did very well at Harvard and I could not have done that without a strong background in liberal arts," he said. "The liberal arts curriculum is the backbone of any university, any educational system."
O'Neill then returned to Florida after graduating magna cum laude from Harvard in 1965 and he has been practicing law in Tampa ever since. Recently he decided it was time to take an active role in helping CLAS continue its tradition of giving students a broad-based, multidisciplinary education. He accepted the position of chair for the CLAS capital campaign scheduled to begin Fall 1997.
"We have to recognize that the state of Florida is going to provide only the basics in terms of educational funding, if that," he said. "Consequently, we have to look at other sources for the funds necessary to sustain and improve the quality of a University of Florida education."
O'Neill hopes he can convince "undecided" alumni that their support is equally as important as the major gifts from corporations.
"The needs are so great that unless we get support from everyone, we'll never reach our goals," he said. "It's obviously very important to have major gifts that receive a lot of publicity. We need those. But for every one of those gifts, we've got to have hundreds of smaller ones."