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MassBay President Named Finalist in Search for New Higher Education Commissioner

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

st pere MassBay President Named Finalist in Search for New Higher Education Commissioner.

WELLESLEY HILLS (May 6, 2015) — Massachusetts Bay Community College President John O’Donnell has been named one of three finalists in the search for a new Commissioner of Higher Education, the state’s Department of Higher Education announced today.

Dr. O’Donnell, along with Carlos Santiago, the senior deputy commissioner for academic affairs at the Department of Higher Education, and Bill Walczak, founder and past president of the Codman Square Health Center, were named the three final candidates to replace the Richard M. Freeland, who will retire from the post at the end of June.

In an email to the MassBay community this morning, Dr. O’Donnell told the College’s faculty and staff that the process has “still a long way to go,” but in the screening process over the past several months, he has been “able to tell the story of the spirit and accomplishments of MassBay, its students, faculty and staff, and how that story applies to the advancement of public higher education in Massachusetts.”

The Board of Higher Education will interview President O’Donnell, along with the other finalists, in a public session on Friday, May 15 at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston. The Board will convene in a special session on Wednesday, May 20, to select the new commissioner.

“These candidates bring a broad cross-section of leadership experience and talent to the table,” said Chris Gabrieli, Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE). “I am delighted that the Board will have to work hard to choose among excellent finalists, all of whom have the knowledge and skills needed to build upon the good work of our current Commissioner, Richard M. Freeland, and the 29 campuses.”

Dr. O’Donnell joined MassBay Community College in 2011, becoming fifth president to lead the College. Prior to MassBay, he served as President of Stark State College in Ohio. During his career, he has taught psychology on the associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degree levels; practiced as a counseling and clinical psychologist; and held senior positions in community/technical colleges, including leadership roles at North Shore Community College in Massachusetts, President of the Regional Campuses of the New Hampshire Community Technical College System, and Commissioner and CEO of the New Hampshire Community Technical College System.

During his career, he has taught psychology at the associate, baccalaureate, and graduate levels and has been in clinical practice as a psychologist. A champion of community colleges and increasing student access to higher education, Dr. O’Donnell received his bachelor’s degree in history from Queens College of the City University of New York and his M.Ed. and Ph.D. from Boston College.

MassBay Community College is a comprehensive, open-access college dedicated to student learning and achievement through academically rigorous courses and programs. MassBay awards associate degrees and certificates in more than 70 academic programs in the liberal arts and in career-driven fields, such as business, health sciences, and automotive technology. On the college’s three campuses in Wellesley Hills, Framingham, and Ashland, as well as online, MassBay offers day, evening, and weekend classes that meet the needs of degree-seeking students and career-minded life-long learners.

More information about MassBay and the upcoming academic semesters can be found at, or by calling (781) 239-2411.