One of five siblings who graduated from the university, he said his undergraduate experience “deepened the sense of purpose that I carry through my personal and professional life. It is an honor to return and be given the opportunity to serve the university that has given me so much.”
O’Neill graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration and biology, summa cum laude.
“I may be returning to St. Thomas in a more active sense, but I have felt deeply and consistently connected to the university since my graduation,” O’Neill said. “I believe that education has the opportunity to go beyond preparing a student for a successful career. Educators and schools are in a unique position to inspire young people to be a force for good, and to show them how doing so can enrich their lives. St. Thomas clearly embraces this opportunity and strives to set an example by actively serving the community. I hope that by contributing my experience and knowledge, I can give back in a similar fashion.”
In 2005, O’Neill founded Minneapolis-based Castlelake, a global private investment firm employing more than 150 professionals. As CEO and managing partner, he is responsible for the firm’s overall direction, including all investment and operational activities, as well as establishing the firm’s vision, culture and investment approach.
Prior to founding Castlelake, O’Neill was a senior managing director at Cargill Value Investment (CVI, now CarVal Investors). During his 13-year tenure, O’Neill helped create and grow the firm’s global distressed investment business and was responsible for establishing, developing and managing Cargill’s Global Credit Strategies business in various markets around the world. During this time, O’Neill brought North American, European, Latin American and Asian markets into the Global Credit Strategies business, and managed various product lines including corporate special situations, portfolios of nonperforming loans, and opportunistic real estate.
O’Neill said the university’s strategic plan resonates with him on many levels, including a “focus on equitable access to education in today’s context,” he said. “I believe we cannot call our educational mission fulfilled if we do not also find ways to break down barriers to entry. Overall, I’m enthused by the integrated planning approach that St. Thomas is taking. Planning in this holistic fashion results in clearer strategy and stronger accountability.”
“I’m looking forward to collaboration with the determined and passionate individuals who share in St. Thomas’ important values,” O’Neill added. “Together, I know we can accomplish much for the common good.”
Four named trustees emeriti
Four former Board of Trustees members – Dick Schulze, Lee Anderson, Gene Frey and Al McQuinn – have been named trustee emeriti.
A mark of honor and distinction, trustee emeritus status is reserved for former trustees whose contributions of wisdom, talent, time and treasure, considered holistically, have extraordinarily advanced the university’s ability to achieve its mission and vision. The Board of Trustees recently approved the honor for Schulze, Anderson, Frey and McQuinn, who joined the board in 1995, 2000, 2006 and 1988, respectively.