Barbara O'Connor Ph.D.
For the past thirty -two years, I have taught a broad range of university level courses in communications at California State University, Sacramento. My primary emphasis has been in communication theory, particularly as it applies to political communication and media communications. In addition to my work as a college professor, I am a media consultant and media critic. I work with a large number of governmental, corporate and non-profit entities in shaping educational technology and telecommunications policy. I serve as an expert commentator on politics and media for most of the large news organizations. In the last twenty years, I have testified in over one hundred hearings and in regulatory settings. I have also given interviews to newspapers, radio stations, and television stations that are too numerous to keep count of. I am particularly busy during election seasons. I view my primary work product as my students. I typically teach close to one hundred and fifty students each semester. I almost always teach three different preparations and a full load of courses. I usually direct or serve on at least ten graduate thesis projects each semester and I make a concerted effort to advise and find employment for students that I work with. I have been very active in fundraising for my department and the University. I also raise funds for the nonprofits on whose boards I serve. I have devoted the last twenty years of my career to applied research in my field. I am a recognized expert in the fields of political communication and telecommunications policy. I was born in Odessa Texas in 1947 and I am a first generation college graduate.
B.A. California State University, Northridge
(Speech Communication) with honors 1969
M.A. California State University, Northridge
(Speech Communication) with honors 1970
Ph.D. University of Southern California
(Communications and American Studies) 1975
Professor, Department of Communication Studies
California State University, Sacramento 1980-present
I was appointed assistant professor and director of debate at CSUS in 1972. I was promoted to associate professor in 1976. I was also elected vice chair of the department in 1974 and chair of the department in 1975. I served two terms as chair of the department.
Director, Institute for the Study of Politics and Media
California State University, Sacramento 1984-present
The Institute for the Study of Politics and Media was founded in 1984. The purpose of the interdisciplinary research and applications center is to explore the impact of media and the political processes on societal institutions. The Institute faculty have distinguished careers in applied research. They regularly conduct sponsored research that involves, survey research and polling, focus groups, communication audits and content analysis of mediated messages. Recent clients include Pacific Bell, Verizon Communications, SBC, GTE, the State of California, the County of Sacramento, the California Legislature, Runyon, Saltzman, Einhorn Advertising, McClatchy Newspapers, KCRA, and KOVR.
Debate Institute Georgetown University 1972-1980
I taught every summer at the Intercollegiate Debate Institute
Teaching Assistant and Assistant Director of Forensics University of Southern California 1970-72
Campaign Organizer and Fundraiser for the Presidential Campaign of Senator George McGovern 1970-72
Teaching Assistant and Assistant Director of Debate California State University, Northridge 1969-1970
Instructor, Water Safety, Red Cross Water Safety and Children's theater Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks
Professional Activities and Honors:
I am the author of numerous publications in political communication and telecommunication policy and applications. In the past ten years in the area of telecommunications technology and its impact on society, I was named by Newsweek Magazine as one of the fifty people in the world who will shape technology growth and policy. In an article titled "Fifty for the Future" they commended my work as the Chair of the Alliance for Public Technology (APT is a Washington DC based nonprofit that I founded in 1989 to intervene in Federal Policy Debates on Telecommunications Technology. It now has 350 organizational members including the NEA, NAACP, National Council of La Raza, the Council of Chief State School Officers etc) as significantly impacting the Congressional and Executive Level debates on Telecommunications Policy Reform. My primary focus in this area is affordable and equitable access to the new tools of the telecommunications revolution. This mission has also guided my scholarly efforts. I have published two book chapters and three refereed articles during this period. In addition, I have presented 22 papers at national or international conferences, participated in thirty panels as moderator or panelist and even authored five op ed pieces for major national newspapers. I have made a concerted effort to make my work understandable and accessible to people outside the university community as well as academics outside my own discipline. I feel very strongly that this is a primary mission of the California State University as we move into the 21st century. I received and outstanding teaching award in 1990 and I was extremely honored to receive the CSU, Sacramento Alumni Associations' Distinguished Faculty award in 1994. It meant a great deal to me since it came from former students and members of the community.
The other area that I have really concentrated on has been bringing in outside money to the University to pursue my interests in the area of telecommunications technology. Over the past twenty years I have received public and corporate grants totaling over one million dollars to pursue this work. The grants have been used to found KXPR-FM, our NPR affiliate, to train minority graduate students in telecom policy, train K-12 teachers to use the internet in their courses, and sponsor fifteen statewide policy seminars. I have one grant pending right now that would allow us to develop new policies for Universal Service of broadband services for Californians. In each of these endeavors, I brought projects in under budget and I have been able to use funds to buy computers and other multi media equipment for the Communication Studies Department faculty. I have also been able to buy instructional resources for our faculty and sponsor regular department retreats with funds left in the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media grant accounts. I think that my efforts have made a big difference in the working environment of a very large and diverse department.
In the last five years, I have been working with the Educational Testing Service to develop a framework for Information Communication Technology Literacy. I chaired an international panel of experts for two years to develop the framework. It has been adopted by many international organizations and for the last year, I have worked with our system office and eight other university systems to develop a junior level ICT literacy test for our students. We beta tested the instrument this summer and will participate in another beta test this spring. Other university systems are becoming members of the consortia and ETS will begin marketing the product in 2006. An outgrowth of this international project has been my involvement in an international research endeavor called Power Users of Technology. The Power Users project is being managed by the Education Development Corporation in Cambridge. I am a member of the international research team will evaluate the impact of high end use of technology on teens. We will track them over ten years to evaluate how their proficiency with technology affects their life choices. We will be meeting at the United Nations in December to set the research agenda.
I served eight years, by appointment of the Governor, the California Legislature, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction as chair of the California Educational Technology Committee. The committee had an annual budget of $16 million and was charged with infusing technology in California's K-12 schools. I also served for 9 years as the elected chair of the Alliance for Public Technology, a Washington, DC, non-profit organization with over 350 members and an annual budget of $1 million, devoted to building constituencies on information age issues. I joined five other consumer leaders and founded the Alliance in 1989. I am the former chair of the California Public Broadcasting Commission by appointment of the Governor and founder of KXPR-FM, Sacramento's Public Radio Station. I was appointed by FCC chairman Al Sikes and reappointed twice by Chairman Reed Hundt to represent consumers on the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council of the FCC. I served as one of eleven persons on Bellcore's Advisory Board and am one of fifteen consumer leaders on SBC's Consumer Advisory Panel.and one of nine on Verizon's Community Collaborative Council During my sabbatical in the Spring of 1996,1 co-chaired California Superintendent of Pubic Instruction Delaine Eastin's California Educational Technology Industry Task Force which has developed and is building support with the Business Roundtable of
California and the California Chamber of Commerce to deploy an ambitious technology plan for K-12 schools. During my sabbatical in 2003,1 worked with ETS and the CSU system office to develop a national test to measure ICT literacy in junior level college students.
I have served as an expert consultant to McClatchy Newspapers, the Boston Globe Media Properties, the Tribune Company, Clear Channel Communications, Comcast, The Washington Bureau of the Associated Press, The California Legislature, the Congress of the United States, The Federal Communications Commission, The Office of Technology Assessment, The U.S. Department of Commerce, National Public Radio, Time Inc. Cable Systems, Cablevision Systems Inc., Scripps Howard Cable, Pacific Bell, SBC, NYNEX, Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, G.T.E., Verizon, Pacific Gas and Electric, , The State Bar of California , the Soviet/American Journalists' Exchange Program, the Bay Area Telecommuting Development Partnership, Pennsylvania' Center for Rural Networking, Stentor Communications of Canada, OECD, and the Educational Testing Service.
Teaching and Learning:
My teaching evaluations have always been above the department's already high norm. I have always averaged about 4.6 or 4.7 on a 5 pt. scale. After thirty-two years of teaching, I still love the classroom and my students. They teach me many things each semester. I try to constantly update my teaching. I have taught courses online, used listproc and web- ct in an effort to make sure my students are ICT literate. I also rotate between 8 or 10 undergraduate and graduate course so the content is fresh for me and for my students.