President Emeritus Brennan O’Donnell Takes On a New Role

By Mack Olmsted, Asst. Production Editor

Manhattan College’s president emeritus, Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D, has recently been selected to join the board of trustees at Misericordia University. O’Donnell was president of Manhattan College from 2009 to 2022. 

O’Donnell was one of three new board of trustees members that were appointed by Misericordia University. 

Interim President Brother Daniel Gardner, who took on the role of president after working under O’Donnell for five years, shared his admiration for O’Donnell as well as his history and impact working for Manhattan College. 

“Brennan O’Donnell established a fine legacy as Manhattan College president during his 13-year tenure,” Gardner wrote in an email to the Quadrangle. “Throughout those years Dr. O’Donnell was able to expand the college’s footprint with the opening of the Raymond W. Kelly ’63 Student Commons, and Patricia and Cornelius J. Higgins ‘62 Engineering and Science Center while also maintaining and reinforcing our core Lasallian principles. He also successfully guided the College through one of the most critical moments in our history during the coronavirus pandemic.” 

O’Donnell has been involved in the higher education community for multiple decades, working to improve the system for students. He has taken on numerous roles in higher education such as editor of the national magazine, Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education, a member of the National Seminar on Jesuit High Education and sat on the board of directors of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. 

 O’Donnell explained in an email to The Quadrangle how the selection process for the board of trustees works and why colleges reach out to multiple schools to gain different perspectives and experiences to help them improve their goals.

“It’s pretty common for presidents or president emeriti of one college to serve on the board of trustees of other schools,” O’Donnell wrote. “Presidents and boards alike appreciate having someone with presidential experience to help guide the mission of the university. It is considered as service to the profession and to higher education in general.”

O’Donnell is very passionate about joining the board of trustees at Misericordia University and shares personal connections with the university. O’Donnell explained why he took on this new role and what he hopes to bring to the table to help further Misericordia University’s overall mission.

“The president there is in his second year, and he reached out to our professional organization, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU), for recommendations on someone who might be a good fit,” O’Donnell wrote. “In addition—as the press release notes—I already had a strong association with the school, it is very close to where I grew up. My mother was an alumna, as was her sister and many other relatives, my high school was a kind of feeder to MU as well, so I know lots of people who have connections with the university. It was in part to recognize these connections that they awarded me an honorary doctorate in 2019.”

Gardner looks forward to seeing how O’Donnell will be an asset to the university’s mission. 

“Dr. O’Donnell brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his role as a board member at Misericordia, and the university is fortunate to have someone of his stature,” Gardner wrote. “As a native of Northeastern Pennsylvania with strong family ties to the university, his commitment to Misericordia’s academic mission and vision–is unmistakable.”