Campus News

New fiscal director counts family, art, accounting among her passions

Marsha O’Connor, new fiscal director in the Office of the Vice President for Research, has several passions, including family, art— especially quilting—and yes, accounting.

“I know that probably sounds silly,” she said quietly, her pale blue eyes crinkling around the edges. “But it’s true. Accounting makes sense. It’s like solving a puzzle. It requires the ability to see beyond the obvious, and I enjoy that.”

O’Connor, who moved to her new position in OVPR on Feb. 1 from her former job as UGA director of payables, has lived many places—Florida, Virginia, New York, Germany and Japan—but Georgia, especially Athens, is “special.”

“Mike had a first career in the Army,” she said. “So we’ve lived in a lot of different places. And we’ve enjoyed them all. But this is where we have a sense of family, of community and belonging.”

 O’Connor’s husband, Michael, is coordinator of the basic physical education program in the university’s kinesiology department. Their ­daughter, Kristen, 21, is a junior majoring in international business at UGA. And son Patrick, 23, lives and works in Atlanta.

 The O’Connors also lived in Augusta for several years in the mid-’90s, where Marsha worked in the controller’s office at Augusta State University and later in the Office of the Vice President for Research at the Medical College of Georgia, while Michael taught at Augusta State. They returned to Athens and UGA in 2004.

 As fiscal director in OVPR, O’Connor manages UGA Research Foundation accounts with an eye on “maximizing what we’re able to do for the research community,” said O’Connor. “We strive to put as much money as possible back into new hires and start-up funding, both to support researchers and to attract the best and brightest.”

She also oversees state funding to support research operations, sponsored projects, personnel and salaries. A priority will be to implement an improved computer-based system that can pull together data from disparate sources into a simple format. “Truthfully, I’m still new enough that I’m not sure what all I’ll be involved in,” she said. “But I’m settling in.”

When she isn’t working, O’Connor enjoys quilting and always has several projects under way. She recently completed an art quilt wall-hanging and a pillow for Kristen that features women’s faces.

“Early in my career, I managed a fabric store,” she said, “that is when I started quilting. Now, I’m  enjoying learning new techniques.”

O’Connor grew up in Florida, met her husband at Virginia Tech and earned her accounting degree at North Carolina State University. Today, after living around the world, she’s happy to return to Athens, the University of Georgia and to research.

“For a lot of reasons, I’m very interested in research,” she said. “I’m drawn to its potential to do good, to benefit people and society. So this is a good fit for me.”