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Eckerd College in St. Petersburg announced the selection on Monday of its fifth president.
Damian Fernandez, 62, was chosen from a pool of more than 200 applicants. He has served as chancellor of Pennsylvania State University-Abington College since 2016. He will take over from Donald R. Eastman III on July 1.
“Dr. Fernandez’s enthusiasm for Eckerd College and all that makes the Eckerd educational experience distinctive is exactly what we were hoping to find in a fifth president who will work with us to continue Eckerd College’s upward trajectory,” said Search Committee Chair Johnson, who also serves as vice chair on Eckerd’s Board of Trustees.
Fernandez is a Cuban immigrant who grew up in Puerto Rico.
He has a Ph.D in International relations from the University of Miami, a masters from the University of Florida and a bachelors from Princeton University.
“The spirit of pragmatic idealism that has animated Eckerd since its founding inspires me,” Fernandez said. “Striving to impact the world is at the heart of an Eckerd education. What higher calling can one aspire to than to serve an institution whose mission is so profound, compelling and promising?”
During his career, which includes more than 30 years in higher education, Fernandez has held many roles: chief executive officer and head of school for New York’s Ethical Culture Fieldston School; provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at The State University of New York–Purchase College; vice provost at Florida International University in Miami; professor at at Phillips Academy (Andover, Massachusetts); as assistant dean at St. Thomas University (Miami); and assistant professor at Colorado College (Colorado Springs).
“Dr. Fernandez has an accomplished history of higher education leadership characterized by academic collaboration, student-centered initiatives, financial acumen and servant leadership,” said John G. Finneran Jr., chairman of Eckerd’s board. “Dr. Fernandez’s career reflects genuine interest in values-based education and innovative high-impact learning within the context of a liberal arts and sciences educational experience.”