Dr. Donal O'Shea

President, New College of Florida

Welcome to New College, Florida’s legislatively designated Honors College for the Liberal Arts.

At New College, students and faculty work together to engage the worlds that we humans inhabit – artistic, cultural, scientific and social – and the ideas and knowledge that comprise our intellectual inheritance. The College is an exciting place, one of challenge and learning, and a place where students pursue their own educational interests and goals in a directed, thoughtful, disciplined manner, and begin the lifelong process of finding vocations: things they love, things they are good at, and things that help others.

The transformative nature of the interactions among students, faculty and staff can be found only at a select handful of colleges around the country, and we are very proud to count ourselves among them. The clarity of our mission, the quality of our people, and the public/private partnership that lies at our heart, continue to sustain New College’s distinctive place within American higher education and continue to attract the bright, self-starting students who seek to claim their place in, and act on, our rapidly changing present.

We embrace our leadership role on the state and national scene, and invite you to explore, through our website, what makes New College a truly exceptional learning environment.

Donal O’Shea
President, New College of Florida


About the president

Dr. Donal O’Shea officially assumed his post as New College of Florida’s fifth president on July 1, 2012, following the retirement of Dr. Gordon E. “Mike” Michalson Jr. Before coming to New College, O’Shea was the dean of faculty and vice president for academic affairs at Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, Mass.), a top ranked private liberal arts women’s college.

“I’ve known New College for a long time, and I’m excited about the quality it possesses as an institution, from its strong students and its incredibly qualified faculty to its deeply passionate and engaged alumnae/i and supporters,” said O’Shea in accepting the post.

A Harvard-trained mathematician and an avowed advocate of liberal arts education, O’Shea had been at Mount Holyoke since 1980. He previously headed sponsored research and chaired the college’s mathematics department. During his 14-year tenure as Mount Holyoke’s dean, O’Shea 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 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, oversaw four building projects (including a $32 million science construction and renovation project) and consolidated science and arts programming and planning. In addition, he directed an $11.5 million project, funded by the Mellon Foundation, to allow students to couple their academic experience with off-campus pre-professional experiences.

O’Shea earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics from Harvard University and his master’s and doctorate from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, a prominent Canadian Research university. He was 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 seven books and monographs to his credit, numerous research articles and book translations from Russian and French.

O’Shea’s awards include Queen Elizabeth Dissertation Fellowship 1978; NSERC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship 1981 (declined) and 1983-85; Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship 1986-87; Council of Independent Colleges CAO Service Award 2007, and the Peano Prize 2008.

In recent years, his professional activities have included organizer of the Women’s Education Worldwide meeting in Sydney, Australia; consulting for Effat University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and American Mathematics Society (AMS) strategic planning for Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Francisco.

Born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, O’Shea and his wife, Mary Barker O’Shea, have four grown children. His hobbies include opera, cooking and spending time with his family.

Read his inaugural address.