McDaniel President Joan Develin Coley announces plans to retire in 2010

April 20, 2009

McDaniel College president Joan Develin Coley announced at the April 18 Board of Trustees meeting that she plans to retire at the end of the next academic year, concluding 10 years at the helm of the 141-year-old liberal arts college. Coley took office on October 20, 2000, as the eighth president and holds the distinction of being the college’s first female president and first to be promoted from the faculty ranks. Her retirement will be effective June 30, 2010.

Coley made the decision to announce her retirement now after carefully considering the timing for the college. “I’m proud of the two significant goals that I established for my presidency—leading the College through its name-change and re-branding; and leading a comprehensive campaign to improve our living-learning community on the Hill,” said Coley. “Both will be demonstrably and successfully completed in 2010.”

“We are amazingly fortunate for Joan’s outstanding leadership of the College during this period of monumental change,” said Martin K.P. Hill, chair of the Board of Trustees. “She has strengthened every area of the College and called us all to work collaboratively toward an even higher level of excellence for which we are undeniably appreciative.”

Hill added that her decision provides time for the Board to conduct a comprehensive search for her successor over the next year.

Alumna Mary Lynn Durham, a member of the Board since 2003, will serve as chair of the Transition Committee, announced Board Chair Martin K.P. Hill. This committee will select a consulting firm to undertake a national search and a Search Committee will be formed consisting of trustees, faculty and student representation.

In addition to spearheading McDaniel’s most ambitious comprehensive fund-raising campaign, Coley has led the college through its name-change [from Western Maryland College] in 2002 and repositioning it as a “better version of itself.” During her tenure, other significant goals realized range from the adoption of a new more global, interdisciplinary and multicultural undergraduate curriculum to expanding post-baccalaureate programs, from the creation of the Center on the Study of Aging to more than $45 million campus improvements for academic study, student residential life and recreation.

Coley has spent her life in higher education, accumulating 40 years of experience in the classroom and in administration. Prior to her serving as McDaniel president, she served as provost for six years during which time she led the faculty in an earlier revision of the curriculum and co-chaired the committee that produced the current strategic plan.

“It has been my great fortune to spend almost all of my working life on this [McDaniel] college campus, a place I love and believe in with unreasonable passion,” she said. “It is here that I came of age as an educator and here I will leave in 2010 having been educated by my colleagues on the faculty and the staff and by the Board.”

She plans to reside in Westminster and remain active in selected professional and community organizations she now serves.

Coley has contributed to the regional and national higher education agenda through her service on the Aspen Institute and the Association of American Colleges and Universities co-sponsored Wye Faculty Seminar as a member of its board of directors, Maryland Independent College and University Association, and as a team reaccreditation leader for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. She also currently serves as chair of the Centennial Athletic Conference.

She joined the college faculty in 1973 as Director of the Graduate Reading Program and was later promoted to serve as dean of Graduate Affairs and chair of the Department of Education.

She has crusaded to help students with serious reading disabilities. For 26 years she led a four-week intensive summer reading clinic for up to 100 elementary and middle school students from Maryland and Pennsylvania.

A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Coley received an A.B. with honors from Albright College. She went on to earn both her master’s and doctorate in education from the University of Maryland. Her numerous honors include the 1989 Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading given by the Maryland Council of the International Reading Association. She has published extensively, writing articles and reviews for national journals and has authored, co-authored and edited several books.

Coley is a past member of the board of directors of Target Community & Educational Services, Inc., a nonprofit that provides community living, vocational and recreational services to adults with disabilities as well as a past board member of the local Chamber of Commerce.
In March 2004, she was named to the Circle of Excellence for being nominated as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by The Daily Record three times, and in 2007, she received the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland Distinguished Women’s Award.

She is also a member of the Network 2000 of Greater Baltimore and on the board of CenterStage and BB&T.