Dr. Gary A. Olson Will Begin his Term as Daemen's 6th President February 1
Dr. Olson Will Welcome Top Prospective Students and their Families to Daemen's 2013 Scholar's Day February 2
January 28, 2013
Contact: Mike Andrei
Dr. Gary A. Olson, a noted scholar of rhetoric, writing, and culture, will begin his term as the sixth president of Daemen College February 1. Olson succeeds Daemen’s fifth president, Dr. Edwin Clausen.
From 2009-2011 Olson served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Idaho State University. A multi-campus, Carnegie Foundation “Research High” doctoral university, Idaho State serves as the state’s principal university promoting education in the health care professions and related sciences. Olson oversaw seven colleges, ISU’s libraries, and the Idaho Museum of Natural History.
Olson obtained his Ph.D. in literary criticism and rhetoric from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1980. He also holds a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut, and a bachelor’s from Kings College. His early research at the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington focused on rhetoric and writing studies.
Olson’s first formal act as president will be to welcome prospective students and their families at Daemen’s annual Scholar’s Day on Saturday, February 2. This annual event brings top-flight high school seniors from across the country to the Daemen campus to compete for one of six prestigious Daemen College Trustee Scholarships.
As provost at Idaho State, Olson led in creating the Division of Health Sciences, the College of Science and Engineering, and the College of Arts and Letters. He substantially enhanced academic student services by creating the institution’s Student Success Center (composed of Advising, Honors, TRIO, tutoring, and other services). He also enhanced openness and transparency on campus by establishing the institution’s first annual Academic Assembly; regular faculty and staff open forums; a Provost’s Faculty Advisory Board; regular meetings with department chairs; and regular letters to faculty and staff updating them on recent developments.
Olson served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Illinois State University from 2004 to 2009, where he led the college through a five-year strategic plan; created a college-wide technology support unit; established the college’s weekly newsletter; formed three high-level advisory boards; launched a number of faculty support initiatives; and created the institution’s largest faculty and staff recognition awards, raising nearly a quarter of a million dollars to endow them.
For nearly two decades (1985-2004), Olson served as an administrator and faculty member at the University of South Florida, one of the nation’s top 63 public research universities offering 219 degree programs (including the M.D.) to over 46,000 students on four campuses. Olson served as the chief academic officer at USF’s St. Petersburg campus from 2002 to 2004, helping to lead the campus to become a free-standing, self-governing, and separately accredited campus within the USF system.
Olson writes a popular monthly column on higher education administration for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and his most recent book is A Creature of Our Own Making: Reflections on Contemporary Academic Life, State University of New York Press, 2013.
He is the author or editor (often in collaboration) of 20 books and over 100 essays and articles and has written on a number of subjects central to rhetoric studies, including the role of theory in rhetorical scholarship, the connections between ideology and discourse, and the contributions of Stanley Fish.
Olson conducted a series of scholarly interviews with some of the world's most prominent intellectuals. He began the series in 1991 as editor of the Journal of Advanced Composition (now simply JAC), a leading journal of theoretical scholarship. Over a decade and a half, he conducted extensive, in-depth interviews probing the life's work of such internationally renowned intellectuals as anthropologist, and linguist Noam Chomsky, deconstructionist Jacques Derrida, postmodern theorist Jean-François Lyotard, philosopher of science Sandra Harding, biologist Donna Haraway, and political philosopher Ernesto Laclau. These interviews were published in JAC and later in a series of books published by State University of New York Press, Southern Illinois University Press, and Paradigm Publishers.
His recently published books include Education as Civic Engagement: Toward a More Democratic Society, Gary A. Olson and Lynn Worsham, eds, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012; The Future of Higher Education: Perspectives from America’s Academic Leaders, Gary A. Olson, and John Presley, eds, Paradigm Publishers, 2009; and Plugged In: Technology, Rhetoric, and Culture in a Posthuman Age, Gary A. Olson and Lynn Worsham, eds, Hampton Press, 2008).
Among the career recognition and academic honors Olson has received are the Distinguished Alumni Award, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, April 28, 2012; induction into Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, April, 2012; a recognition award, NAACP Tri-State Conference, September, 2009, given in appreciation of commitment to excellence in education; and the International Award for Distinguished Editor, Council of Editors of Learned Journals, 1993.
Also while at the University of South Florida, in 2003, Olson received the President’s Award for Faculty Excellence, a university-wide, competitive award for excellence in scholarship and teaching.