Barry McNamara  |   Published May 24, 2022

Hatch Award for Service

Student-centered Mike Connell honored for three decades of service to College, empowering ‘hundreds of alumni.’

MONMOUTH, Ill. – This year’s recipient of Monmouth College’s Hatch Award for Distinguished Service was honored for work he’s done on campus in the past year, but it was also a lifetime achievement award, of sorts.

MIKE CONNELL: Longtime business professor receives Monmouth's Hatch Award for Distinguished S... MIKE CONNELL: Longtime business professor receives Monmouth's Hatch Award for Distinguished Service.“When you make the choice to be a liberal arts professor at a place like this, you do it for the students,” said Hatch Award recipient Mike Connell, who’s taught business at the College since 1992. “You don’t get rich, and you don’t get famous, but you make a lot of friends.”

That countless number of friends includes one of his former students, who nominated him for the award.

“I am only one of the hundreds of Monmouth College alumni who have Professor Connell to thank for empowering them to work hard and find success,” wrote the nominator.

Connell’s service to the College includes his presence on a number of committees: the Tom Johnson Scholarship Committee, the Presidential Strategic Planning Committee, the Wiswell-Robeson Lecture, the Wendell Whiteman Memorial Lecture and the Faculty and Institutional Development Committee. He chairs the latter group, which is responsible for recommending to the faculty and administration policies and procedures relative to the use and development of human and financial resources of the College.

“It’s the culmination of a lot of things in the past – that was a big part of it,” said Connell of the award. “This year, specifically, we had some resignations in the department, so I stepped up and taught an overload.”

“When you make the choice to be a liberal arts professor at a place like this, you do it for the students. You don’t get rich, and you don’t get famous, but you make a lot of friends.” Mike Connell


During the past academic year, he also chaired two search committees as the business department looks to develop an agribusiness management program.

Additionally, Connell used his position as a board member on the Community Health Foundation of Warren and Henderson Counties to help the College secure grant funding to run its COVID Testing Center, which not only was an asset to the campus community, but the local community, as well.

For more than 20 years, he’s served as the College’s faculty athletic representative to the Midwest Conference. For the past year, he was president of the MWC, the second time he’s held that one-year position.

“We’re the balance between academics and the coaches,” said Connell of those who hold faculty athletic representative roles. “Our job is to represent the needs of the students. We vote on issues like expanded schedules and subjects like that when missed classes might come into play.”

In that role, Connell serves Monmouth College athletes in behind-the-scenes fashion. But there’s also a much more public way he supports the Fighting Scots.

“He attends athletic events to support and encourage the student-athletes and the coaches because Monmouth College and people here are family to him,” wrote his nominator.

“Professor Connell’s dedication to the College spans decades and generations of students who have looked to him for advice and mentorship. (He) has served our students constantly and with distinction throughout his distinguished career.” Dean Mark Willhardt


That support includes Connell running up and down the sidelines at basketball and football games with a large handmade “Scots” flag, rousing the home crowd.

“I’m not embarrassed to support these kids,” said Connell. “I tell my students that no one can embarrass them without their permission. They can be made fun of, but they can only be embarrassed if they allow it themselves.”

Connell would love to have some help in that cheerleading area, as he envisions five different flag runners at athletic events, each carrying one of the letters in S-C-O-T-S.

SCHOOL SPIRIT: Mike Connell in action, during Monmouth's memorable win over St. Norbert in th... SCHOOL SPIRIT: Mike Connell in action, during Monmouth's memorable win over St. Norbert in the 2019 Midwest Conference championship game.“Professor Connell’s dedication to the College spans decades and generations of students who have looked to him for advice and mentorship,” said Dean of the Faculty Mark Willhardt. “Whether he was guiding their lives as chair of the Political Economy and Commerce Department – now the Business and Economics Department – carrying the flag in support of them at sporting events, or simply being there when they needed to sound off, Professor Connell has served our students constantly and with distinction throughout his distinguished career.”

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