Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Recipients
Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award
KEVIN T. O'MALLEY, ARTS '73
Even in grade school, Kevin O’Malley dreamed of becoming a lawyer. “No one in my family was a lawyer, and I didn’t know any lawyers, so I am not sure why, unless it was Perry Mason or Atticus Finch,” he says.
Kevin’s legal path veered in a different direction from his fictional heroes. After majoring in history at Marquette and graduating with a law degree from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, he found work as a corporate lawyer in the health care industry. Now “happily retired,” he spent 12 years as vice president and general counsel for St. Jude Medical, and he worked for Eli Lilly and Co. and its subsidiaries before that.
He entered the field at just the right time. “I was employed in the medical device industry at a time when great innovation was occurring and people’s lives were literally being saved or dramatically improved,” he says.
Kevin appreciates the academic foundation he received at Marquette, but the university’s biggest impact on his life came by introducing him to his now-wife, Marcia. He also treasures his study abroad experience in Germany under the direction of the late Dr. Esther Hudgins. That time abroad sparked his intellectual curiosity in other languages and cultures, an interest that he and Marcia continue to actively pursue by enrolling in study abroad programs.
Always interested in innovation, Kevin is also active in a venture capital group that provides funding and advice to startup companies.
“Success is attaining goals. The challenging issue is to set the proper goals,” he says. “I believe that true success comes not from achieving one goal, but from having balance in one’s life: occupational or professional, personal, family, social and community.”
Hometown: St. Paul, Minn.
Favorite book: The Great Gatsby by fellow St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dream dinner guest: Mark Twain
Marquette faculty member who made an impact: “Dr. Esther Hudgins, who was a German teacher and who led the German summer program that I attended. She was a very warm person who was very generous with her time. She had a very interesting personal life, having lived in Berlin during World War II. She was very enthusiastic about German culture and literature, and her enthusiasm was inspiring.”
Favorite Marquette memory: “Meeting my wife. We both grew up in St. Paul, but never met until we went to Marquette and were in the Honors Program.”
Most influential person in his life: “My mother. I think this is probably true for most people.”