John O'Brien was recently named Chief Academic Officer at Century
College, a community and technical college and the largest two-year
college in Minnesota. Prior to this position, he served as Associate
Vice Chancellor for Instructional Technology for the Minnesota State
Colleges and Universities system, one of the largest higher education
systems in the United States. At Normandale Community College, he
served as president of the faculty association and taught traditional
and distance learning courses.
O'Brien earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Minnesota
and a master's degree in Anglo-Irish literature as a Rotary Scholar at
Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He received a B.A. from Augustana
College in English and Education. He has taught and published
extensively in his academic discipline, and his publications include a
book on Milan Kundera and feminist literary theory, published by St.
his campus and system leadership role, O'Brien has called on his
faculty experience and drawn on his student-centered approach to
innovation to ground his advocacy for technology-enhanced teaching.
Rather than promoting the latest technology trends for their own sake,
he has championed the notion that movement toward emerging
technologies and pedagogical innovations must be inspired by a pull
and not forced with a push. His leadership is founded on the
conviction that the new interactive technologies have enriched the
lives of students, and reaching these students will increasingly
require integrating, if not embracing, these new approaches.
Throughout the United States, O'Brien has given presentations and
worked with colleges and universities on a wide variety of teaching
and learning topics through the Services Division of the League for
Innovation. He has been a keynote presenter at campus, regional, and
national higher education events and conferences, and he has given a
televised public lecture in Akita, Japan, on the future of e-learning.
O'Brien has received awards and has been recognized for his
scholarship, his teaching, and his leadership, and he is currently
working on a novel that has nothing to do with higher education or