Roger N. Casey, the provost of Rollins College in Florida and a scholar of literature and media with strong international ties, will become McDaniel College's ninth president in July.
Casey, 48, will replace Joan Develin Coley, who is retiring after holding the job for 10 years and leading the college through the name change from Western Maryland College.
At Rollins, located near Orlando, Casey oversees academic affairs for three schools and has helped the college achieve a No. 1 ranking among master's comprehensive universities in the South, according to U.S. News & World Report. Under his leadership, Rollins has added numerous programs, including biochemistry, marine biology, media studies and international studies.
"If we had tried to build somebody from the ground up, I don't think we could have done a better job," Coley said of her successor. "He gets us."
Casey helped Rollins establish an education center on China and has recently led study tours to the Galapagos Islands. He was traveling "upcountry in Laos" when the McDaniel board voted to offer him the job.
"As a product of a liberal arts education and as a first-generation college student, I am a poster child for what a place like McDaniel can do for a person," he wrote in an introductory letter to the campus. "I don't have to read about it. I live it every day of my life. And I want to live that life in a collaborative community seeking justice and education for all."
Francis "Skip" Fennell, a McDaniel education professor who served on the presidential search committee, came away impressed with Casey's grasp of the millennial generation and their connection to technology.
"This guy's saying to [older people] like me that this stuff can really be a positive," Fennell said of Facebook and Twitter. "We can really use it to expand their horizons."
He recalled a conversation about public speaking in which Casey said he never asks students to turn off cell phones but instead tries to interest them so that they'll Tweet their friends on Twitter.
Before going to Rollins in 2000, Casey spent nine years as an associate dean and professor at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, where he helped found a regional teaching workshop and was nominated for Carnegie National Professor of the Year. The South Carolina native holds a bachelor's degree from Furman and a master's and doctorate in English from Florida State.
Casey has also acted in and directed regional productions of award-winning plays, most recently portraying F. Scott Fitzgerald in a dramatization of the author's letters to his wife.