NEW YORK (June 7, 2004)—Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D., professor of English and director of the honors program at Loyola College in Maryland, has been named dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH), effective July 1, 2004. O’Donnell is an authority on Jesuit higher education, having served as editor of the magazine Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education; as a board member of Collegium, a consortium of Catholic colleges and universities that sponsors summer institutes on faith and intellectual life; and as a member of the National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education.
“An extraordinarily gifted educator, Dr. O’Donnell brings to the University a wealth of experience and a desire to build on and to enhance the tradition of excellence that is our heritage,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., the 32nd president of Fordham University. “He has been a leading voice in the national dialogue regarding Jesuit ideals and higher education, and we are fortunate that he will bring his insight and perspective to Fordham.”
O’Donnell, who will be the first lay person to serve as dean of FCRH, was editor of Conversations from 1994 to 2000. The biannual magazine is distributed to faculty and administrators of the nation’s 28 Jesuit colleges and universities and is a forum for discussions of Ignatian pedagogy.
“What drew me to Jesuit education initially was the opportunity to integrate faith and intellectual life. When I arrived at Loyola College in Maryland in 1987, I immersed myself as much as possible in the ethos of Jesuit education,” said O’Donnell. “My passion is excellence in undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, and I’ve been impressed with the gains being made at Fordham in areas such as the number of prestigious fellowships being awarded to students.”
O’Donnell served on more than a dozen committees during his time at Loyola, including the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, the working group on Jesuit-Catholic Identity and the president’s task force for governance review. As director of the honors program at Loyola, which enrolls about 200 students each year, O’Donnell planned and administered an extracurricular enrichment program that included concert and theater series and an international film festival. These events and others allowed him to interact regularly with students, something he will continue at Fordham.
“The real challenge will be finding ways to break down the boundaries between academic and student life,” said O’Donnell. “It’s important to create a culture on campus where people are out doing things and that the dean is visible at those events.”
O’Donnell received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his bachelor’s degree in English from Pennsylvania State University. A prolific writer, he has published or edited numerous books and articles, including “From Omaha to Philadelphia and Beyond: Jesuit-Lay Cooperation in Twenty-First Century Higher Education,” in Jesuit Education 21: Conference on the Future of Jesuit Education (Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2000), and The Passion of Meter: A Study of Wordsworth’s Metrical Art (Kent University Press, 1995).
O’Donnell was selected as FCRH dean after a four-month nationwide search. He will succeed Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., who is leaving to become president of Fairfield University.
“Dr. O’Donnell has wide experience in curriculum design, talented-student recruitment and faculty development,” said John Hollwitz, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs at Fordham University and chair of the FCRH dean search committee. “His record of achievement as teacher and scholar and as a foremost leader in the discussions of Jesuit education and Catholic identity most distinguished him from the other candidates.”
FCRH is the oldest and largest of Fordham University’s eleven schools, with approximately 3,200 students and 300 full-time faculty.