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President John O'Donnell Announces Retirement

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

WELLESLEY HILLS (June 30, 2015) – Massachusetts Bay Community College President John O’Donnell, who is credited with moving the College to a position of financial stability and strengthening the College’s community-based and business partnerships, announced today that he plans to retire from his decades-long career in higher education.

In a letter to the campus-wide community, he told faculty and staff that his decision to retire in August was both “professional and person in nature,” and that he made this decision throughout the course of the past academic year. He officially announced his decision to members of the Board of Trustees, the Commissioner of Higher Education, and key state officials yesterday. O’Donnell, who has been at the helm since 2011, is the fifth president to lead MassBay since the College’s founding in 1961.

“I thank each of you for your support and for the opportunity to be part of Massachusetts Bay’s academic journey,” President O’Donnell wrote in the letter. “My sense of Massachusetts Bay Community College has always been that of a community of faculty and staff manifesting a strong academic ethos and a belief in and support of students. This academic and support base, in conjunction with continuing advocacy for resources, community partnerships, investment in the college, and a focus on student access and success will propel Massachusetts Bay forward.”

“During the past four years, as I have served as Trustee, I have watched MassBay stabilize and transform into a learning institution to be proud of,” said Pam Richardson, Chair of MassBay’s Board of Trustees, citing the College’s strong “sense of purpose.” “Under President O’Donnell’s leadership, MassBay has hired key personnel, achieved financial stability, grew partnerships with business and industry, established supportive relationships with non-profit partners, and began the work of expanding our Framingham campus.”

In 2012, under O’Donnell’s leadership, the College embarked on a $59 million project to move the Massbay’s Framingham campus from its Flagg Street location to downtown Framingham, the first major capital expansion project for MassBay since 1973. Although still in planning stages, the project has been widely supported by local businesses, legislators, and residents as a welcome economic boost and a major revitalization opportunity for downtown Framingham. In May, O’Donnell was named one of three finalists for the position for the state’s Commissioner of Higher Education.

"President O'Donnell has served the Commonwealth with distinction and has been a strong ally in our work to advance the Vision Project and to align community college programs with the needs of local employers," said Richard M. Freeland, the Commissioner of Higher Education. "I wish him all the best in his retirement."

Kevin Kane, the incoming chair of the MassBay Foundation, said President O’Donnell’s presidency has been “transformational” for the college and for the foundation, citing the dramatic increases to the number of scholarships and the amount of money the College has raised for student scholarships during O’Donnell’s tenure.

“President O’Donnell worked diligently with the Foundation to develop a clear strategic vision,” Kane said. “He helped to recruit engaged and energetic Foundation Board members. We are most grateful to have had John O’Donnell as President of MassBay Community College.”

Prior to MassBay, Dr. O’Donnell served as the president of Stark State College in Ohio. He has also served in a number of leadership positions, including as the commissioner and chief executive officer of the New Hampshire Technical College system, where he was also a member of the New Hampshire Governor’s Cabinet. He also served as the president of the New Hampshire Technical College at the Manchester, Stratham, and the Pease International Trade Port campuses. He has also taught psychology at the associate, baccalaureate, and graduate level and has been in clinical practice as a psychologist.

A strong proponent of community colleges and a life-long champion of widening college access, O’Donnell earned a B.A. in history from Queens College of the City University of New York, and his M.Ed. and Ph.D. from Boston College.

The Board of Trustees will convene on July 8 to announce the appointment of an interim president as the College begins its search for its next president.

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.