Patrick O’Connor
Cozen O’Connor
Founder and vice chairman

Biography

Patrick J. O’Connor, the current chairman of the Temple University Board of Trustees, first joined the Board in 1971, at the age of 28. He remembers feeling out of his depth while sitting quietly at his first meeting. “I didn’t like the fact that there I was, as a Trustee, adding no value,” Mr. O’Connor recalls. “So I studied my brains out.” It wasn’t long before he was chairing important Board committees, and in the process, he adds, “I got to know Temple and its mission, and I fell in love with the school.”As one of 10 children raised in a blue-collar family, Mr. O’Connor extols Temple’s celebrated role as an engine of opportunity. “The one thing I’m proud of at Temple is that our employability rate is very high,” he says. He singles out the Fox School’s leadership “for being sensitive to what the world needs, and training people to meet those needs,” while adding, “The Fox School is a jewel [because] it stays relevant to the world, and has adjusted to the world’s opportunities as they have changed.” Mr. O’Connor co-founded the Cozen O’Connor law firm with four other lawyers in 1973, and today the firm has 670 lawyers, ranking among the nation’s 100 largest. He attributes the firm’s growth to innovation and attracting the right people, regardless of their backgrounds. “We had a great sense of where we needed to go,” he says, and hiring new lawyers “was based more on their personality and their drive than where they went to school or what their last name was.” Mr. O’Connor advises young people, “Do what you know you are good at, do what you love, and then follow that dream in whatever field you pursue.” Above all, avoid careers involving work that feels like a chore to you. “I know a lot of successful business people who are very, very unhappy and frustrated with their lives,” he adds. “Success, to me, is happiness in what you do.”

Temple University Degree
Honorary Degree ’13, Temple University

Temple University Awards & Affiliatons

  • Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership, 2008
  • Chairman, Board of Trustees
  • Chairman’s Circle
  • Board of Directors, Temple University Health System
  • Board of Governors, Temple University Hospital

What I wanted to be when I was 20 years old
A trial lawyer and/or politician

Best piece of advice anyone ever gave me
Be true to yourself and follow your dreams but never forget from where you came! — Patrick O’Connor’s mother