Popular Resources

Joan Develin Coley, president emerita of McDaniel College, to lead Notre Dame of Maryland University

August 9, 2013

Appointment follows resignation of President James F. Conneely

Patricia J. Mitchell, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Notre Dame of Maryland University, has announced the appointment of Joan Develin Coley, Ph.D., President emerita of McDaniel College, to serve as President of the University for the period of one year while a search is conducted for the next permanent president of the institution.

Dr. Coley assumed her new role on August 12, 2013. Her appointment follows the resignation of President James F. Conneely, who cited family reasons in submitting his resignation. Dr. Conneely assumed the presidency of Notre Dame in July 2012.

“I have had to make a difficult career decision for family reasons,” said Dr. Conneely. “I will continue to hold the faculty, staff, students, graduates, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and friends in my prayers and in my heart. I am very proud of the progress Notre Dame has made during my tenure in moving the institution forward as it continues to educate students who transform the world.”

Dr. Conneely and his family plan to return to their former home in Kentucky.

Mitchell saluted Dr. Conneely for accomplishing much in his 13 months at the University. “The past year has been one of continued progress for Notre Dame as a result of Dr. Conneely’s determination to build on the University’s strengths. Each of our Schools—Arts and Sciences, Education, Nursing, and Pharmacy—have felt his mark, as has student life, where he has focused our attention on creating an exceptional experience for every student, especially in our women's undergraduate college. He developed new initiatives and oversaw programming to improve student engagement and retention, including a new organizational structure and staffing for the Division of Student Life. He has been an outspoken advocate for us on issues involving women’s education and on those of service and social responsibility. His active leadership in the United Way’s Day of Service rallied the entire Notre Dame community to volunteer their time to support this important literacy initiative. He has also been instrumental in managing the final phase of the construction of our newest academic building, slated to open in the coming weeks.”

Dr. Coley comes to Notre Dame with a long record of service and success at McDaniel College, where she began in 1973 as a Professor of Education, a field in which she is a noted expert and author on reading and reading disabilities. During her nearly four decades at McDaniel she served as a Department Chair, Dean of Graduate Affairs, and Provost, and served as President of the liberal arts college from 2000 to 2010. She is the first McDaniel President to be appointed from the faculty ranks. During her presidency, she successfully transitioned what was then known as Western Maryland College through a comprehensive name change and repositioning, and led the most successful fundraising campaign in the College’s history, exceeding the goal and raising $77 million. She was instrumental in the College’s adoption of an undergraduate curriculum with greater emphasis on global, interdisciplinary and multicultural studies, and oversaw $45 million in campus improvements for academic facilities, student residential life and recreation.

Angela Sherman, Ph.D., Notre Dame Associate Professor of Chemistry and President of the Faculty Senate noted, “Dr. Coley’s strong leadership, commitment to teaching excellence, and proven record of success in higher education will ensure a smooth transition and provide a sound foundation as we launch the new academic year.”

A Philadelphia native, Dr. Coley earned an A.B. with honors from Albright College, and earned her master’s and Ph.D. in education from the University of Maryland. Among the many academic and civic honors bestowed on her are the University of Maryland’s award as Outstanding Leader in Education and the Circle of Excellence honor from the Daily Record for being named on multiple occasions to the list of Maryland’s Top 100 Women.

The Notre Dame Board of Trustees also named the Honorable Kathleen O’Ferrall Friedman as chair of the Search Committee charged with identifying and selecting the next permanent President of Notre Dame. Judge Friedman is a member of the Notre Dame class of ’62, former Chair of the Board of Trustees, and a retired judge of the Baltimore City Circuit Court.


Notre Dame of Maryland University educates approximately 3,000 women and men in undergraduate and graduate programs offered by its Schools of Arts and Sciences, Education, Nursing, and Pharmacy, and through its Women’s College, which offers the only single-sex undergraduate program in the State of Maryland.