SUNY Oswego’s annual Media Summits are named in memory of Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell, professor emeritus of communications studies. “Doc” O’Donnell passed away August 28, 2007, but his influence lives on in the careers of hundred of broadcasters-careers he helped launch. Louis A. Borrelli Jr. ’77 founded the summit through a leadership gift in 2005. In 2007, a significant gift to Oswego made by Al Rocker ’76 of NBC’s “Today” show, including a matching gift from NBC, provided the funding to rename the summit in honor of Dr. O’Donnell’s legacy. Roker’s gift supports the annual media summit, as well as the student television studio in the Marano Campus Center.
Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell
Born in Syracuse in 1930, Dr. O’Donnell was founding chair of the SUNY Oswego communication studies department and a 26-year employee of the college.
A professor of communication studies, he received the SUNY Chancellor’s award for Excellence in Teaching. He was also well known and loved throughout Upstate New York as the character Mr. Trolley on the Syracuse children’s program “The Magic Toyshop.”
Dr. O’Donnell moved to Fort Meyer’s Fla., in 1989 after retiring. In Fort Meyers, he spent may selfless hours helping others as a volunteer at Lee Memorial Hospital. Dr. O’Donnell received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Syracuse University. He faithfully served in Korea with the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Prior to joining SUNY, he spent several years in radio and television broadcasting including stations in Buffalo and Syracuse.
Dr. O’Donnell was a role model who had a profound impact upon the lives of his students.
Lou Borrelli (‘77)
Louis A. Borrelli Jr. is a media executive, investor and advisor, successful entrepreneur and recognized industry leader. A pioneer in cable television, online media and broadcast production services, Borrelli has been driving innovation in operations, marketing, business development and new product creation for more than 40 years.
Borrelli has served on several industry boards, including the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, Cable Advertising Bureau, National Academy of Cable Programming, Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) and the Metro Cable Marketing Co-Op. Borrelli is a two-time CTAM TAMI award winner (1996 and 2000), received the Pinnacle Award from CTAM Texas in 2001 and was elected to the Cable Pioneers in 2002.
In 2005, he established the Media Summit, which was later renamed to honor Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell. He was awarded the Presidential Medal by SUNY Oswego in 2014. The State University of New York trustees bestowed on Borrelli an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in 2015.
Al Roker (’76)
Al Roker is the weather and feature anchor of NBC News’ TODAY as well as the co-host of the third hour of TODAY. He joined in January 1996. From July 2009 to September 2015, Roker served as co-host of the morning show “Wake Up with Al” on the Weather Channel.
Roker has been named Best Weatherman twice by New York Magazine. He is a recipient of the American Meteorological Society’s prestigious Seal of Approval and has been a pioneer in the use of computer graphics for weathercasting. Roker has won three Daytime Emmy Awards as part of TODAY’s recognition as the best morning newscast (2007, 2009, 2010).
A generous supporter of his alma mater, Roker provided SUNY Oswego a gift to name the Al Roker Television Studio, which is operated by the student-run television station (WTOP), and helped to name the annual Media Summit in honor of a mentor, Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell. His live national broadcasts from campus and his frequent on-air “plugs” for Oswego provide exposure for the college, most recently during Rokerthon3 in March 2017. In fall 2019, he co-taught “Camera Ready: Developing Your On-Air Persona” with Professor Michael Riecke and adjunct professor and alumna Vanessa Richards ’08. Roker was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters in 1998 from SUNY Oswego.