McDonnell currently is a Professor of Policy, Planning and Management in the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, where he previously served as Dean of the College of Management and Human Services, and later as USM Provost. Before his service at USM, McDonnell was interim dean of the School of Business and was Research Professor at Stony Brook University in New York. He has also held senior leadership positions in the private sector.
In late February, UMF’s current president, Edward Serna, announced he would leave Farmington at the end of this June to become president at his alma mater, Winthrop University in South Carolina.
McDonnell brings to Farmington higher education executive leadership experience and a track record of creating innovative academic programming through partnership that meets student and employer needs, including in areas aligned with UMF’s strengths. At USM, for example, McDonnell initiated a doctoral degree in Education Leadership as a joint venture between the Muskie and Education schools, as well as a growing program in Tourism and Hospitality.
“I look forward to working with faculty, staff and students to help the UMF community implement the University’s strategic plan. It’s an opportunity to flesh out the plan and imaginatively build on UMF’s reputation in education and the liberal arts,” said McDonnell on the occasion of his appointment.
McDonnell’s key priorities as Interim President will be improving student recruitment and retention, pursuing collaborative academic and community partnerships, promoting inclusivity and transparency, producing balanced budgets, and leading the faculty’s ongoing work to transition from a four-credit hour operating model to the three-credit one used by all other University of Maine System universities and most higher education institutions.