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John J. Donohue, vice president for academic affairs at Medaille College since 1997, was named acting president Thursday.

He has handled day-to-day operations at Medaille since longtime President Kevin I. Sullivan, who died Feb. 15, became ill late last fall.

"I obviously have mixed emotions -- and a big pair of shoes to fill," Donohue said. "This is exciting but at the same time very humbling. The nice thing is that Kevin's vision and leadership have given me a pretty clear sense of where the college has to go."

Donohue, appointed to the acting presidency by Medaille board chairman Robert L. Stevenson, joined Medaille in 1995 as academic dean.

He was given the added title of vice president for academic affairs two years later and has served as acting executive vice president since November.

"I see my function as trying to help Medaille realize Kevin's dreams for the college," Donohue said. "He was at a juncture in his presidency where a great deal was happening."

Currently enjoying record enrollment, Medaille is building its first on-campus student housing and is seeking approval from the National Collegiate Athletic Association for full membership in the NCAA Division III program.

It is developing a distance-learning option for its popular veterinary technology degree program and is hoping to receive approval from the state Education Department for an expansion of its adult business programs into the Rochester area.

Donohue, 44, holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in anthropology from the State University at Stony Brook. Before coming to Medaille, he was dean of the School of Liberal Arts at SUNY's Morrisville College of Agriculture and Technology.

From 1988 to 1993, he held administrative posts at Adelphi University in Garden City.

During his tenure as Medaille's chief academic officer, the college has introduced degree programs in criminal justice, biology and psychology and has established graduate programs in business and education as well as the ACCEL evening program at Medaille's Amherst branch campus.

Donohue, who minored in Asian studies as an undergraduate, serves on the board of the American Council on Martial Arts, is associate editor of the Journal of Asian Martial Arts and is the author of several books in the martial arts field.

He is also a professor of social sciences at Medaille and has taught anthropology and interdisciplinary courses within the college's general education program.

A national search for a new president of Medaille will be initiated after the board meets with its constituency to chart a course for the next few years, Donohue said.

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