Vale Terry O’Connell (1948-2017): Education visionary
The Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) is saddened with the passing of Terry O’Connell on 28 August after a protracted battle with cancer.
Terry’s long association with ASG began in 1982 when he was working in Perth and through a colleague, was put in touch with the late Harry Tyler, one of the founders of ASG. Harry had established and helped develop an educational assistance program in Melbourne and was looking at the possibility of developing an operation in Perth. Terry was drawn to the idea and after meeting with Harry, his journey commenced with ASG, setting up the first WA office and becoming the regional manager for Western Australia.
Terry’s passion lied in helping parents plan for their children’s education, particularly as costs continued to rise for families. With the growth of ASG in the 80s, he moved to Melbourne to take up the position of general manager at ASG’s head office in Surrey Hills, where he remained until his retirement in 2007. Terry continued his leadership at ASG as chairman of the board until 2015 and then stayed on as non-executive until his retirement in July of this year.
Under his leadership of more than 30 years, ASG gained widespread recognition for being one of the largest non-profit friendly societies in Australia, encouraging parents to save for their children’s future education. For many parents, ASG’s education plans allowed them to dream big, aiding their children in pursuing higher education.
Terry was also the pioneer of the ASG National Excellence in Teaching Awards, which he initiated in 1994. Now in its 23rd year, the ASG NEiTA acknowledges the great work teachers do in their communities, both in Australia and New Zealand and has recognised more than 30,000 teachers and distributed more than $940,000 in professional development grants.
For ASG’s Board and staff, Terry’s passion, drive and belief for ASG and its impact in helping to improve educational outcomes was an inspiration to all, including his mentorship of many individuals.