UA Journey

1948-1973 William A. O'Neill

William O'Neill photo from "Now in the North," May 1975.

Anchorage

William A. O’Neill moved to Cordova, Alaska, with his parents when he was just one year old. His father operated a mercantile business for the booming copper town. While a high school and college student, O’Neill worked for the mines near Kennecott. He graduated from the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines in 1934 with a degree in geology and mining, when he joined the Canadian operations of the McRae-Patty Mining Co.

O’Neill was a naval officer during World War II. He then worked as a consulting mining engineer and as an assistant project engineer in charge of maintenance and operations for 33 White Alice Communications sites in Alaska. He was building and construction engineer for the Anchorage Borough School District.

Among other accomplishments, he served on the University of Alaska Board of Regents for 25 years, serving as president from 1970 to 1974. The University of Alaska Alumni Association honored him as Alumnus of the Year in 1968.

O’Neill is credited with playing a major role in the development of the University of Alaska from a small, one-campus institution into the statewide system it is today and with making the University Alumni Association a stronger, larger organization. 

When he stepped down from the Board of Regents, the Governor proclaimed March 30, 1973, as "William A. O'Neill Day" in Alaska. Roy Madsen was appointed to take his place on the Board.

He died in October 1974 in a swimming accident in Liberia while on a geological expedition.

At the 1975 building dedication, O'Neill's family poses with his photograph. Pictured are his son, William; widow, Vi; brother Patrick; and daughters Sally Wien and Maureen O'Neill.

UA Site named after William A. O'Neill

O'Neill Building

Link

Building to be named for O'Neill

Resolution of Appreciation to William A. O'Neill, Board of Regents

Sources:

William A. O'Neill Resources Building Dedication

“William A. O’Neill (1907-1974)” Alaska Alumnus Fall, 1974; “William A. O’Neill Resources Building Dedication” program, Facilities Services Web page, 2002-03 Construction Overview

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