Timothy O’Donnell

When Timothy O’Donnell came to Mary Washington in 1999, a year after James Farmer retired from teaching here, he knew little about the civil rights leader. But soon, the young professor of communication was learning about the architect of the 1961 Freedom Rides. “It really was the serendipitous moment of somebody saying, ‘You should do some research,’ ” O’Donnell said of the start of his interest in Farmer, who taught history and American studies in Monroe Hall for more than a decade. Back then O’Donnell was director of UMW debate. He went on to shape his career around Farmer, who at just 14 had joined the Wiley College debate team. Since then O’Donnell has tackled major academic projects, like rebuilding the debate program and leading UMW’s recent reaccreditation process. But he’s never stopped teaching himself – and his students – about James Farmer. O’Donnell grew up in Pittsburgh dreaming of becoming a Steeler. He was a starter on his middle school football team, but … [Read more...]