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O’Donnell to leave Stark State for MassBay by August

By Anonymous
Posted May 19, 2011 @ 09:27 AM
Last update May 19, 2011 @ 09:06 PM
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Stark State College’s president says his own career was made possible through access to affordable education.

That’s where his heart is, and he owes it to the communities he serves to move on. It’s what he leaves behind that counts most.

“Part of my philosophy is that I’m not a believer in the 10- to 15-year CEO in this dynamic world of community colleges,” John O’Donnell said Thursday, shortly after announcing to Stark State staff he has accepted a new position at MassBay Community College in Massachusetts.

“What the people have accomplished here at Stark State is phenomenal. It has become a national leader, and now is a great time to have that conversation and examine the vision in this all-American community. It’s the time to sit with all of the college’s community partners and first celebrate their joint accomplishments and then say, ‘Where next? And to what levels?’ ”

O’Donnell is slated to begin his work as MassBay’s fifth president Aug. 1.

“The Board of Trustees is thrilled that John O’Donnell is coming to MassBay,” Jonathan Bower, chair of the MassBay Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Dr. O’Donnell in helping the college meet the needs of the communities we serve.”


O’Donnell, a strong proponent of community colleges, said he views education — specifically community and technical colleges — as the way to advance students, businesses and communities.

“There is a sense of going home,” said O’Donnell, who previously worked in the New England area, where his family resides. “In leaving Stark State College and Stark County, however, there is also a sense of leaving home.”

O’Donnell has served as president of Stark State College since January 2004.

During his time at Stark State, enrollment has skyrocketed from 5,600 to 15,300 students. O’Donnell also has been at the forefront of campus expansion, the establishment of partnerships between the college and businesses and the addition of a number of academic programs and degrees. O’Donnell also has aimed to increase access to higher education through the establishment of satellite campuses.

“He is an outstanding leader and his influence on the community has been just terrific. Whether the request was bigger programs, new programs or expansion of programs, his answer was always, ‘Yes!,’” said Adrienne O’Neill, president of the Stark Education Partnership, who worked with O’Donnell to establish dual-credit programs for area high school students and Canton City Schools’ Early College High School program. “He has had a big vision for not only the college, but for education in Stark County.”


Ed Roth, president and CEO of the Aultman Health Foundation and chair of the Stark Development Board, said O’Donnell, who has served on a number of boards during his time at Stark State, including the development board and the United Way, has been a good advocate for Canton, Stark County and Northeast Ohio.

“He’s led Stark State through a period of significant growth and change, while at the same time understanding what the needs of local businesses are,” Roth said. “John understands that the work force is changing, and the school has continued to change and evolve along with the community.

“People are right for certain jobs at the right time, and John O’Donnell was the right man at the right time.”

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