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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 15, 2012 5 years ago

O'Shea hopes to bolster college's national recognition

by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

The man chosen to take the helm of New College this summer says he looks forward to boosting the college’s recognition on the national level.

Following a 10-month search to replace retiring President Dr. Gordon “Mike” Michalson, the New College of Florida Board of Trustees March 10 unanimously voted to name Dr. Donal O’Shea the next president, pending confirmation by the state university system’s board of governors. That approval is expected when the board meets March 22 in Jacksonville, enabling O’Shea to begin work July 1.

As the college’s fifth president, O’Shea said he looks forward to boosting the school’s reputation to an even higher level.

“I’m really pleased and excited,” O’Shea told the Sarasota Observer this week. “I’d like to see the school get more national recognition,” he said. “Right now, it’s kind of a hidden gem, but it deserves to be better-known.”

O’Shea added, “New College is a great school with wonderful faculty and students, and many of its grads have gone on to change the fields in which they work. The school has seen a successful 50 years, and I look forward to helping chart its course for the next 50.”

His passion for teaching and engaging with students is the source of his excitement in taking on this new challenge at New College, according to his application.

“Future generations of students need the sort of education we provide, and the state, the country and the world need our graduates,” he wrote in the application. “I can think of no more worthwhile and no more exciting job than helping New College of Florida survive and thrive as a place of learning and growth for generations to come.”

New College’s trustees said they felt O’Shea’s passion for a liberal-arts education was right on track with their search criteria. Board of trustees Chairman Robert M. Johnson said in a news release that O’Shea embodied the heart and soul of New College and that the search committee was impressed with his ability to engage in conversation and collaborate creatively.

Since 1998, O’Shea has been dean of faculty and vice president for academic affairs at Mount Holyoke College, a Top 25 private liberal-arts college for women in Massachusetts. It is the oldest women’s college in the world.

A noted mathematician, O’Shea earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics from Harvard University. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate from Queens College, Ontario, a prominent Canadian research university.

Prior to becoming a dean at Mount Holyoke, O’Shea headed sponsored research and chaired the school’s mathematics department. His resume says he was the only mathematics professor at the school to have been chosen by the students to give the seniors’ baccalaureate address.

O’Shea also has published several books, monographs and research articles about mathematics.

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