Pi Sigma Alpha Advisor Honored at Seton Hill University

By Josh Weiner Pi Sigma Alpha Intern, Spring 2018

Today, the average university faculty member is drawn in many directions, but the triad of teaching, research, and service remains a centerpiece. For many faculty, the service component may be where there is the least time available but the personal reward may be highest. Not every faculty members is recognized for their commitment to students, so to be named “Advisor of the Year” at an entire school is certainly a sign of a hard job done well.


In the eyes of her students and peers at Seton Hill University, Roni Kay O’Dell is certainly worthy of such an entitlement. “Dr. O’Dell is one of the most passionate and dedicated professors I have ever had,” says Hailey Jacobs, student president of the Alpha Lambda Eta chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, where O’Dell serves as faculty advisor.  “Inside the classroom, she challenges students to reach their full potential, see different perspectives, and develop skills that will translate to their future careers. Outside the classroom, she often works with students on their resumes, different projects, and truly encourages each one of us to go out and change the world. She is the kind of professor that you know will stand beside you as you attempt to make a difference.”


O’Dell received a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Washington, and then went on to pursue an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and the University of Denver, respectively. She previously taught at the University of Denver and Cameron University before joining the Political Science Department at Seton Hill in 2016. Her research interests and course material are centered on migration, human rights, poverty, inequality and policy solutions.


Serving as the founding advisor for the Pi Sigma Alpha chapter and the Model United Nations at Seton Hill represents a further commitment to drawing her students to political science scholarship. O’Dell has had no shortage of tasks to fulfill under these roles–  “I have advised honors research projects [and] student field research, co-written grants, led student groups in conference preparation and participation, and chaired panels where my students presented their research,” she explains. Ultimately, it has been a meaningful experience for her in many regards.   “My goal is to work with students so that they can obtain research, professional, and career development experience,” O’Dell says of her service as faculty advisor for Alpha Lambda Eta, as well as the school’s Model United Nations club. “[I wish for] my students to successfully participate in academic and career development opportunities during their undergraduate years, so that they are ready to masterfully engage in a career or graduate school after they obtain their degree from Seton Hill University.”


O’Dell’s dedication has earned her this special recognition from her school, and will continue to prove rewarding as she watches her students go on to further great opportunities in the domain of political science.