Manuel F. O’Neill
MA, Social Ecology, Goddard College
BA, Psychology, University of Scranton
Manuel and his wife, Myrna Miranda, have lived in Vermont since 1976 on their 23-acre hillside small family farm, la Finca Verde Luz. Manuel’s Goddard MA degree in Social Ecology focused on US food and farm policy. His work at Goddard has included stints as director of financial aid, faculty member in the Goddard College campus undergraduate program, and currently financial aid counselor. Prior to coming to Goddard College, Manuel worked as a community organizer, Assistant Executive Director at Aspira of New Jersey, and Director of Financial Aid at Rutgers University, Livingston College campus. He also worked for ten years as a “blue collar” worker in the industrial manufacturing sector as a result of having been influenced by the work of Dr. Antonia Pantoja, founder of Aspira, and Luis Nieves Falcon with New Jersey farmworkers.
Manuel and Myrna have been active in the solidarity movement in support of the right of Puerto Rico to self-determination for 40-years. Manuel addressed the Continuing UN Committee on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples in 1988. As a representative of Vermont’s Democratic Party’s Rainbow Coalition wing, he served on the Party’s Platform Resolution committee (1984 and 1988), and was instrumental in including resolutions to Vermont’s US Presidential Nominating Convention, which called for the cessation of US Navy bombing of Vieques, and US adherence to the UN Resolution 1415. Manuel is extremely proud of the role that several Goddard student alumni played in influencing the entire Vermont Congressional Delegation to call for the cessation of military bombing in Vieques. Manuel also participated in the Vieques civil disobedience campaign, and along with hundreds of others from Puerto Rico, and the Puerto Rican Diaspora was held in preventive detention in a US federal prison for having entered the US Navy firing range during naval bombing exercises.
Manuel has participated in the union and labor movement in Vermont, and was a member of the United Electrical Workers (UE), Vermont Educators Association (NEA) Bombardier and Goddard College organizing committee, respectively. He presently serves as chair of the UAW Goddard College Staff Union.
Manuel attended Irish Catholic schools in the Bronx, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Scranton, a Jesuit college, and also attended St. John’s University. He credits his early commitment to social justice to the Sisters of Charity admonishment to—do onto others, as you would have them do unto you; and his later commitment to participant democracy to Goddard College’s educational pedagogy, and Vermont’s Democracy imperative, as well as to former college president, Jack Lindquist’s, insightful characterization of Goddard College as “Democracy’s College.”
As a 28-year, on and off, employee at the College, Manuel remains confident that Goddard’s values are closely aligned with the current popular justice and democracy movements in the US, and that the alignment gives Goddard a competitive advantage within the Higher Education marketplace. He is equally confident that Goddard’s institutional capacity, as well as the relevancy of its educational programs to today’s young and mature learners—will permit it to continue playing a leadership role in progressive education. Goddard will for a long time to come continue educating future generations of critical thinkers who are committed to advancing Democracy in the classroom, workplace, and society—“one classroom at a time” as our late colleague Dr. David Frisbee once observed.
Manuel enjoys taking afternoon naps, cutting the grass, and working while thinking while in the garden. He looks forward to writing his first book “Reflections of a Nuyorican Hillside Farmer in Vermont.” He is also also working to establish a NGO, The Vermont-Puerto Rico Café con Leche Project, whose purpose is to facilitate cultural skill exchanges between dairy farmers in Vermont, and coffee and milk producers in Puerto Rico.