Dr. Catharine O’Connell, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Defiance College, will leave her position effective June 30 to become vice president for academic affairs at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va. The announcement was made simultaneously this morning by officials at the two colleges.
Defiance College is an independent, liberal arts institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate majors as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of engagement. U. S. News & World Report ranks Defiance in the top tier of comprehensive colleges in the Midwest. The college website is www.defiance.edu.
Dr. Charles Warren, interim president at DC, said he was making the announcement “with a great sense of loss and disappointment.” He noted that Dr. O’Connell had declined invitations to pursue a number of professional options over the past months, but a specific opportunity at a single gender institution near close relatives in the Washington, D.C., area became compelling.
Dr. O’Connell, who came to Defiance in 2004, said that “the dedication of faculty and staff at Defiance College to the institution and its students has been a source of great inspiration to me these five years.” She said that the position at Mary Baldwin College was an “exciting professional opportunity” that she decided after careful consideration was right for her and her family. She and her husband, Matthew Schultz, are the parents of two children, Victor and Ruth.
She added: “I will always carry with me what I have learned at DC as well as deep respect and affection for members of this community.”
Dr. Warren noted that Dr. O’Connell “has brought incisive intelligence, creative vision and caring wisdom to her leadership roles at Defiance College. Her unyielding commitment to high intellectual and academic standards, integrated throughout our students’ experiences, gave real meaning and value to the College’s Culture of Engagement. To say that Kate will be sorely missed – by trustees, faculty, staff, students, senior administrators, alumni, and community friends – is to err seriously toward understatement.”
Dr. O'Connell came to Defiance College following the retirement of Dr. Richard Stroede. In her time at Defiance, she has helped to lead the College in several initiatives including the creation of the innovative Hench Autism Studies Program; growth of the College’s signature program, the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity; and the development of new academic majors in international and global studies, computer forensics, and nursing. She has presented at national conferences on Defiance College’s efforts to integrate academic excellence with education for responsible global citizenship. In 2006 and 2007, she participated in the Cambodia Learning Community as part of the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity, traveling with Defiance students and faculty to Cambodia to take part in their service-based research initiatives.
Prior to her arrival at Defiance College, Dr. O’Connell served at Cabrini College in Pennsylvania where she was dean for academic affairs, and at St. John Fisher College in New York where she was a tenured faculty member and chair of the Department of English. She has published on 19th-Century American literature and culture.
Dr. O’Connell earned her Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan, a master of arts in American Culture from the University of Michigan and a bachelor of arts in American Studies from Amherst College.
Mary Baldwin College is a private, women’s liberal arts college located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The college is ranked by U.S. News and World Report in the top tier of master’s level universities in the South and as a top college in the Southeast by the Princeton Review.
Details for the search process for Dr. O’Connell’s successor will be announced within the next two to three weeks.
January 14, 2009