Dr. John O’Brien was appointed president of North Hennepin Community College on St. Patrick’s Day, 2010. Prior to this appointment, he was director of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Students First initiative. From 2008-09, he served as acting president of Century College, leading the college through a year of significant enrollment gains and funding cuts, and the student senate nominated him for the Minnesota State College Student Association “president of the year” award. Prior to this appointment, he was academic vice president for three years.
Prior to his campus leadership, he served for six years as associate vice chancellor at the Office of the Chancellor. As a system leader, his work focused on supporting strategic planning, improving consultation and shared governance, and providing instructional technology-related services to colleges and universities across the state.
For a number of years, he taught as adjunct faculty at several colleges and universities throughout the Twin Cities. For six years, he was a full-time faculty member at Normandale Community College, where he was president of the faculty association and was active in campus governance and campus life. Along with creative writing, he has published scholarship in his academic discipline over the years, and his book on Czech novelist Milan Kundera was published by St. Martin’s Press.
John 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. His undergraduate degree from Augustana College is in English and Education with a minor in speech, communications, and theatre.
He speaks on higher education topics nationally, and occasionally internationally–often on the promise and challenges of teaching and learning with emerging technologies.
John was a first-generation college student, growing up in Worthington, Minnesota, and he has lived in metro area for the last 20 years. He and Kathryn currently live in south Minneapolis with their two children, Alex and Thessaly. His son Nathan is a senior at the University of Minnesota.