Outgoing president Coley to receive honorary degree at 140th Commencement

May 11, 2010

McDaniel College will award more than 400 bachelor’s and approximately 200 master’s degrees at the College’s 140th Commencement at 2 p.m. May 22 in Gill Center. Student awards include the Argonaut Award, which is presented annually to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade-point average, and the Edith Farr Ridington Phi Beta Kappa Writing Award for the best Honors paper.

At 8:30 a.m. on Commencement day in WMC Alumni Hall, 15 graduating seniors, who are members of the College’s Army ROTC program, will be commissioned as second lieutenants into the U.S. Army. The graduates, part of the Green Terror Battalion, come from McDaniel, Mount St. Mary’s and Hood College. The presentation will feature guest speaker Brigadier General James A. Adkins, adjutant general of Maryland, who is responsible for the readiness, administration and training of more than 7,200 members of the Maryland Military Department.

McDaniel’s annual Baccalaureate Service will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 21 in Baker Memorial Chapel.

McDaniel President Joan Develin Coley will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree and serve as speaker for the 140th Commencement. Coley is retiring after 38 years on the Hill, the last 10 of which she has served as the college’s eighth president. She was elected president on October 20, 2000, after serving as interim president for nearly a year.

McDaniel College’s first female president and the first to be promoted from the faculty ranks, Coley led the college through a major re-positioning that was launched in 2002 with its name change from Western Maryland College. She has proven to be an outstanding advocate and fundraiser as demonstrated with the completion of the Carpe Diem Campaign in December, which raised more than $77 million and set new records of support from trustees, alumni, and even faculty and staff.

Coley has realized many significant goals she set for the college, including the development and adoption of a more global, interdisciplinary and multicultural undergraduate curriculum, the expansion of post-baccalaureate programs, the creation of the Center on the Study of Aging, and more than $45 million in campus improvements for academic study, student residential life and recreation.

Joining the faculty in 1973 as director of the Graduate Reading Program, Coley went on to serve as dean of Graduate Affairs and chair of the Department of Education. Prior to her appointment as president, she served as provost for six years, during which time she led the faculty in a revision of the curriculum and co-chaired the committee that produced the 2003-2008 strategic plan.

During her tenure as a faculty member and director of the college’s graduate program in reading Coley became a national and international authority in the field, with scores of published papers and books and more than 100 presentations, including many at national conferences.

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.

Both alma maters have honored her. In 2001, the University of Maryland presented Coley with its Outstanding Leader in Education award, and in 2006, Albright College awarded her with an honorary degree in Humane Letters.

This past spring, the McDaniel Board of Trustees unanimously approved Coley for the honor of emeritus status as a Professor of Education and College President.