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Eckerd Welcomes Former Mayor of Sarasota Kelly Kirschner as New Dean of Special Programs

posted on 05/07/2012

Eckerd College is pleased to announce the appointment of Kelly Kirschner, former Mayor of Sarasota, as Dean of Special Programs effective July 1, 2012. As Dean, Kirschner will provide leadership for the College's non-credit adult education, continuing education and lifelong learning programs.

"Kelly will be a great asset to Eckerd. We're looking forward to applying his many talents and experiences, including his extensive knowledge of Latin America, to the management and strategy development for Special Programs," said Dr. Donald R. Eastman III, President of Eckerd College. "We are also excited to have a member of our leadership team from the Sarasota area, where we know there is great opportunity for partnership within our Special Programs division and campus-wide."

Kirschner follows James E. Deegan who is retiring after 28 years as Vice President and Dean of Special Programs June 30, 2012. Under Dean Deegan's leadership the College built the Continuing Education Center at the entrance to campus, established Senior College, which later became the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Eckerd College, founded the Center for Conflict Dynamics and the Eckerd College Writers Conference, and significantly expanded the Program for Experienced Learners (PEL) and the Leadership Development Institute, a network affiliate of the Center for Creative Leadership. Special Programs also includes Continuing Education/Conferences and Summer Programs, the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (ASPEC) and the ELS Language Center at Eckerd College.

"Eckerd College epitomizes the best in what a liberal arts education should provide young students. The offerings of Eckerd's Special Programs division, led so astutely by Jim over the past 28 years, perfectly complement the College's core mission," Kirschner said. "I am honored and extremely excited to be joining such an outstanding organization that has achieved so much and aspires to do even more."

Elected in March 2007 as the youngest City Commissioner in Sarasota history, Kirschner served in that role until April 2010 when he was selected as Sarasota's youngest Mayor. He was Mayor until May 2011 and did not seek reelection. While serving the City of Sarasota, Kirschner led a successful push for the strongest campaign finance reform legislation of any city in the state of Florida, he initiated minority outreach programs and helped reduce the operating budget of the city by $22.6 million.

For the past year, Kirschner was Executive Director of UnidosNow.org, a nonprofit with the mission to better integrate Florida's rapidly growing Latino population in the state's civic, cultural and economic life. Kirschner will remain on the organization's Board of Directors. Prior to his work with UnidosNow.org, Kirschner was Senior Vice President-Accounts with The Media Maquiladora/Papel Media Network, a media services firm specializing in media planning and execution in U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets.

A graduate of Georgetown University with a bachelor's degree in Foreign Service and a master's degree in Latin American Studies, Kirschner served as an Intern in The White House during his years at Georgetown. After graduating, Kirschner joined the Peace Corps serving as a Municipal & NGO Development Volunteer in rural Guatemala. Following his Peace Corps service, Kirschner worked for Idaho State University, leading a USAID-funded land-titling and natural resource conservation project in Guatemala.

Kirschner is married to Tracy Topjun, and they have a son, Bodhi, and a daughter, Selby.

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