Official Obituary of

Suzanne (Jagel) O'Brien

December 14, 1937 ~ February 16, 2024 (age 86) 86 Years Old

Suzanne O'Brien Obituary

Passed away on February 16, 2024 at age 86. 

Born 12/14/37 in Queens Village, NY, the daughter of Richard E. and Margaret (Enid) Jagel, Suzanne came to Rochester in 1955 to attend the University of Rochester as part of the inaugural class of women that would live on campus during their college years. She was the recipient of a George Abbott (U of R class of 1911) Scholarship. She graduated, phi beta kappa, in 1959 with a degree in English and married John O’Brien, whom she met while at the U of R. After a brief stint in NYC, Suzanne and her husband John returned to Rochester and she obtained a job in as a secretary in the Center for Brain Research at the University of Rochester in 1961, a position she held for nearly a decade. Thus began Suzanne’s long and successful 55-year career at the University of Rochester. In the ensuing years, she became an academic advisor, director of academic advising, coordinator of career services and placement, and associate dean of undergraduate studies. In 2009, she became associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Upon her retirement in 2016, Suzanne endowed her former position as the Suzanne Jagel O’Brien Dean for Academic Advising. Suzanne also played a significant role in creating the Rochester curriculum, which was well-regarded throughout the country for its effectiveness and innovation. During her time at the U of R, Suzanne received numerous awards and commendations, including the Goergen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning in 2003; the Susan B. Anthony Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007, the Witmer Award for Distinguished Service in 2014, and the College Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning in 2016. She also headed up the University’s relationship with the R.O.T.C. program, served as secretary to the Iota Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and administered the Take 5 and KEY (Kauffmann Entrepreneurial Year) post-graduate study programs. Among her many other accomplishments, Suzanne was most proud of having identified and promoted many different capable women who began as secretaries into positions of influence and importance throughout the University community. 

Suzanne and her husband John were great lovers of music and Suzanne was a long-time patron of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and its classical and pops programming, as well as the Chamber Music Society. 

Predeceased by her husband John, Suzanne is survived by two nieces and four nephews and their families. 

Funeral details are private. There will be a celebration of Suzanne’s life held on the University of Rochester’s River Campus at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, WXXI or the American Civil Liberties Union. 

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