The search for the College’s fifth president

Eckerd College is pleased to announce that on July 1, 2020, Damian J. Fernandez, Ph.D., became its fifth president. He came to us from Penn State Abington, where he served as the Albert and Suzanne Lord Chancellor since July 2016.

Search communications

About Eckerd College

An Eckerd College experience is not about learning a rigid set of facts. As one of 40 schools featured in the book Colleges That Change Lives and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Eckerd makes it clear that its first priority is to teach students how to learn.

Eckerd, a private college of liberal arts and sciences in St. Petersburg, invites students to ThinkOutside. We take advantage of our spectacular mile of campus waterfront along Florida’s Gulf Coast for outdoor laboratories as well as an impressive array of intramural, club and intercollegiate (DII) sports and water recreation. Offerings in the arts and humanities inspire creativity and foster critical thinking and self-awareness. Every year, students and faculty travel outside the U.S. to some 40 countries for research and cultural learning. And we venture together in the Eckerd experience to think outside the conventional questions, methods and solutions—seeking to build a better world.

The best education is one that prepares you for the how, as well as the what—an education that teaches you to ThinkOutside.

For general information about the search process, contact For media inquiries, contact Robbyn Mitchell Hopewell.

Position Profile

Learn about Eckerd’s new leadership agenda and the qualities and abilities we sought in our next president. Read the profile.

Meet the search committee

The Eckerd College Presidential Search Committee featured eight members of the College Board of Trustees, three faculty members, three Executive Staff members and one student representative. Committee members were tasked with reviewing candidate profiles to narrow applicants to the finalist list and conduct interviews.


  • Ian P. Johnson ’89, Search Committee Chair, Eckerd College Board of Trustees Vice Chair
    Mr. Johnson serves as the Senior Vice President of Investment Operations at Fidelity Investments and has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2005.
  • John G. Finneran Jr. (P ’12), Eckerd College Board of Trustees Chair
    Mr. Finneran serves as a Senior Advisor and Corporate Secretary for Capital One Financial Corporation and has been a member of the Board since 2009.
  • Norman A. Barker (P ’13), Trustee
    Mr. Barker serves as the Principal at AB Bernstein and was elected as a College Trustee in 2012.
  • Ronice L. Barlow ’91, Trustee
    Ms. Barlow serves as Senior Vice President and Head of Strategic Planning and Business Development (U.S.) for Franklin Templeton Investments.
    She has served as an Eckerd Trustee since 2010.
  • Christy Chapin Bellina ’94, Trustee
    Ms. Bellina is Senior Account Executive & Marketing Lead, Softlines, at Amazon.
    She was elected as a College Trustee in 2017.
  • George W. Off, Trustee
    Mr. Off is a retired executive and resident of St. Petersburg.
    He has served on the Board of Trustees since 1998.
  • P.N. “Bud” Risser III, Trustee
    Mr. Risser is Chairman of Risser Oil Corporation and is a resident of St. Petersburg. He has served on the Eckerd Board since 1992.
  • Susan A. Slaugenhaupt ’85 (P ’20), Trustee
    Dr. Slaugenhaupt is Scientific Director of the Massachusetts General Research Institute and Professor of Neurology (Genetics), Harvard Medical School.
    She has served as a College Trustee since 2013.

Eckerd College Faculty

  • Anthony Brunello (P ’19)
    Professor of Political Science, Behavioral Sciences Collegium
  • Heather Vincent (P ’15)
    Associate Professor of Classics, Letters Collegium
  • Laura Wetzel
    Professor of Marine Science and Geosciences, Natural Sciences Collegium

Executive Staff

  • Matthew Bisset
    Vice President for Advancement
  • Valerie Gliem
    Vice President for Marketing and Communications
  • John Sullivan
    Vice President for Enrollment Management


Kaitlyn Willgohs ’21
Psychology and Animal Studies

Senior Staff to the Search Committee

Lisa A. Mets
Vice President and Secretary of the College

Key dates