Department of Communication Studies

Penny O'Connor

Penny O’Connor earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at UNI. Currently, Penny is a term instructor at UNI, as she has been for the past 19 years. For five years, Penny has also mentored the graduate teaching assistants who teach Oral Communication.

Penny is actively engaged in professional speaking. As a keynote speaker at various events and conferences, she speaks on a variety of topics, ranging from motivational speeches to financial issues. “This experience gives me real-life, out-of-the-classroom experience that I can share with my students,” says Penny.

In September of 2007, Penny was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal for a speech she gave regarding Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.”

Throughout her career, Penny had great success with coaching Individual Events (IE) for UNI’s Forensics Team. Under her supervision, several members of the IE Team became national finalists, and one became a national champion.

Penny’s Bachelor’s degree was in Radio and TV. It was forensics and teaching, though, that drew Penny to a Master’s in Speech Communication

During her time as a graduate student, Penny formed close relationships to professors. In particular, she recalls her relationship to Mary Bozik. “She taught me more in one year than anything I would have learned in four years in a secondary education program. She is a great teacher. She was a great teacher of teachers. That’s probably what I am most grateful for – her mentoring.”

In addition, Penny says her relationships with other professors were “very easy and collegial.” “There was one professor that I would have lunch with once a week for 13 years. He was retired for 10 of those years. With at least a handful of faculty, it is a long-lasting relationship.”