New College of Florida Names Dr. Donal O’Shea As Next President

(March 10, 2012) – Dr. Donal O’Shea, Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, has been selected as the next president of New College of Florida, it was announced today. He will succeed Gordon E. “Mike” Michalson, Jr., who will retire as head of Florida’s honors college for the liberal arts and sciences on July 1, 2012.

O’Shea’s appointment was approved earlier today (March 10) by the New College Board of Trustees following a recommendation by the Presidential Search Committee, which selected O’Shea following a national search led by Archer~Martin Associates of Nantucket, MA. The appointment must be approved by Florida’s Board of Governors, which meets in Jacksonville, FL, on March 22, 2012.

In announcing the Search Committee’s unanimous recommendation, Board Chair Bob Johnson stated, “Donal O’Shea’s intellectual abilities, his personal values and his visionary determination to make New College a national leader in the liberal arts really stood out from the other candidates we interviewed for the presidency and made him a natural fit to lead New College.”

Johnson added that O’Shea was clearly the top choice of faculty, students and staff at the College, as well as of members of the local community, who met with him and the other three presidential finalists when they visited campus between February 19 and March 6.

“Born fifty years ago in a decade of extraordinary social and intellectual ferment, New College of Florida has established itself as one of the world’s most innovative and distinguished liberal arts colleges,” said O’Shea in accepting the position as New College’s fifth president. “I am pleased and honored (and still somewhat stunned) to now count myself a member of this extraordinary community of scholars, students, staff and supporters.  And I look forward to working with all to ensure that New College thrives as a beacon of educational excellence and innovation for the next half century.”

New College plans to hold a press conference in Jacksonville following the Board of Governors meeting on March 22, and another in Sarasota soon thereafter. Several opportunities will also be provided to introduce the new president to the Sarasota-Bradenton community.

Dr. Donal O’Shea has been Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Mount Holyoke College, a top 25 ranked private liberal arts women’s college, since 1998.  During his 14-year tenure as dean, he has diversified the faculty, increased external funding, introduced post-tenure review, improved leave policies, made teaching load equitable, established professional programs and shepherded creation of a fiber optic network linking the Five Colleges Consortium in western Massachusetts. He has also introduced a first-year program to support new students in their transition to college, internationalized the curriculum, formed a group of presidents and deans of women’s universities around the world, started collaborative programs among northeast liberal arts colleges for department chair development, overseen four building projects (including a $32 million science construction and renovation project) and consolidated science and arts programming and planning.

O’Shea is currently directing an $11.5 million project, funded by the Mellon Foundation, to allow students to couple their academic experience with off-campus pre-professional experiences.

A Harvard-trained mathematician and an avowed advocate of liberal arts education, O’Shea has been at Mount Holyoke since 1980.  He previously headed sponsored research and chaired the college’s mathematics department. O’Shea earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics from Harvard University and his master’s and doctorate from Queens College, Ontario, a prominent Canadian Research I university. He has been a visiting professor in major universities in the U.S. and abroad (U. of Cambridge, UK; U. of Miami; U. of Hawaii; Universität Kaiserlautern, Germany; U. of Massachusetts, Amherst; Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques, Bures-sur-Yvette, France). He has six monographs to his credit and numerous research articles.

New College’s Presidential Search Committee members included Susan Burns (alumna), Charlene Callahan (former provost), Kathy Coffey, Audrey Coleman (trustee), Aron Edidin (faculty), Cindy Hill Ford (alumna), Renee Hamad, R.V. Heiser, Michael Long (student), Bob Johnson (trustee and chair), William Johnston (trustee), Pat McDonald (faculty), Felice Schulaner (alumna and trustee), Stewart Stearns, Tom Towler and Alex Wylie (student).

The longest-serving president in the history of New College, Mike Michalson has served as president of the College since July of 2001. At his retirement, he will have served as chief administrative officer of New College for 16 of the past 20 years, including five years as Dean and Warden (1992-1997) while the College was still part of the University of South Florida (USF). Following a one-year sabbatical, Michalson plans to rejoin the New College faculty as a professor of religion in the fall of 2013.

One comment

  1. As a fifth generation Floridian and product of its public schools & colleges, I am pleased to see such a fine choice to steward one of Florida’s crown jewels.

    With acknowledged bias, I echo the words of the search committee in their accolades for Donal O’Shea. My former neighbor for ten years in South Hadley MA and friend of twenty five years, Donny is one of the most extraordinary intellects and human beings you could ever hope to meet. Over the course of my 30 yr. career as an executive for health systems around the country, I have never encountered the same combination of genuine warm hearted kindness and command of subject matter in any professional let alone an academic!

    You will all be rewarded for this choice and I wish all the best in the exciting years ahead!

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