President O’Shea to step down next year

President Donal O'Shea
President Donal O’Shea

President Donal O’Shea, who has led New College of Florida since 2012, has decided to step down from his position at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.

In an email message to the campus community on October 6, he wrote: “It has been an enormous privilege and pleasure to have served in this role for what will soon be nine years. I am deeply grateful to all who have made that possible.”

During O’Shea’s tenure as president, New College received more than $9 million from the state to increase its enrollment to 1,200 students and boost four-year graduation rates to 80 percent by 2028. He also secured state funding for an addition to the Heiser Natural Sciences Complex and to launch the master’s program in data science, two $750,000 grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support arts and humanities and community engagement, and significant private gifts to fund student scholarships.

A firm believer in collaboration, President O’Shea spearheaded the creation of the Cross College Alliance, a consortium of five colleges and universities in Sarasota and Bradenton that provides course cross-registration, faculty collaborations and social activities for students. He also oversaw the launch of a dual-degree program with the University of Florida, in which students can earn a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts from New College and a bachelor of science degree in engineering from the UF Wertheim College of Engineering in five years.

O’Shea led the development of the college’s 10-year strategic plan Cultivating Curiosity. Unleashing Potential. that lays out New College’s roadmap for achieving its long-term institutional goals. He oversaw the expansion of the College’s curriculum with the addition of new areas of concentration and minors, as well as the introduction of certificate programs; created the new position of Dean of Outreach & Chief Diversity Officer; and led the college through the disruptions and challenges of COVID-19.

Before coming to New College, President O’Shea served as dean of faculty and vice president of academic affairs at Mount Holyoke College for 14 years. Trained as a mathematician with a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Queen’s University in Canada, he has co-authored seven mathematics books, won two prestigious mathematics publishing awards (Peano Prize in 2007 and Leroy P. Steele Prize in 2015), and held tenured professorships on the mathematics faculty at both Mount Holyoke and New College.

In an October 6th email to the campus community, Board of Trustees Chair Mary Ruiz wrote: “The announcement by Dr. Don O’Shea of his intention to retire as our President by the end of this academic year is a fitting time to express gratitude for his vision of an expansive future for New College. In choosing his successor, our task is to bring the future to realization.”

A presidential search committee will be comprised of representatives from the student body, faculty, alumni, the Board of Trustees, the New College Foundation, and community members, and a search firm will be hired to lead the candidate recruitment process.


Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida is the state's only legislatively designated Honors College of Florida. New College prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement by providing a highly individualized education that integrates academic rigor with career-building experiences. New College offers 45 undergraduate majors in liberal arts and sciences, a master’s degree program in data science, and certificates in technology, finance, and business skills.

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