Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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COSSPP Alum Appointed FSU Dean of Undergraduate Studies

by Amy Farnum-Patronis Patronis, University Communications

Florida State University Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Sally McRorie has appointed Assistant Provost Joe O’Shea (B.S. ’08 Interdisciplinary Social Science) as the new dean of the Division of Undergraduate Studies, effective May 20.

O’Shea succeeds Dean Karen Laughlin, who passed away earlier this month.

An FSU alumnus, O’Shea has served as assistant provost since 2016, where he’s helped guide the university’s nationally recognized student success initiatives. With the addition of his duties as dean, he will continue to focus on student-centered challenges and opportunities.

“I’ve known Joe O’Shea since he was a freshman here, representing students on a big committee I chaired as a dean,” McRorie said. “From the first meeting, it was crystal clear that he was highly intelligent, innovative and open, and most of all, a staunch spokesperson for our undergrads. He’s only gotten better in the intervening years! When my friend Karen [Laughlin] and I spoke of our retirements in the future, she always said she hoped that Joe would follow in her role. She would be most pleased to know that our undergraduate students will continue to be in great hands.”

David Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy when O’Shea was a student here, said he was pleased to see such a “superb choice” for the position.

“As an undergraduate student in our college, I was able to witness his commitment to improving the undergraduate experience here at FSU,” Rasmussen said. “His experience as a Rhodes Scholar and his doctoral research prepared him well for his fine contributions to improving the university’s national reputation. He is an outstanding alumnus of our college, and I am confident he is the best possible choice to lead undergraduate studies during the challenging times that lie ahead.”

In his new role, O’Shea will serve as academic dean for most freshmen and sophomores until they are admitted to an upper-division major. He will oversee more than a dozen departments and programs, including the Presidential Scholars and Honors programs, which work with FSU’s most high-achieving students, and the Center for Academic Retention & Enhancement (CARE), which serves traditionally underrepresented students.

“Like many others in our community, I am still deeply saddened by the loss of my mentor and colleague Karen Laughlin,” O’Shea said. “The best way I know to honor Karen is to champion the cause that motivated much of her career: excellent undergraduate education at FSU, for every student. I’m excited to work with the exceptional team in Undergraduate Studies and with colleagues across the university to ensure that FSU continues to provide a preeminent education.”

As assistant provost, O’Shea has played a key role in launching FSU’s experiential learning graduation requirement for undergraduates; creating the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, which focuses on elevating teaching university-wide; and instituting the Graduation Planning and Strategies Office, which aims to increase student graduation rates.

Previously, O’Shea served four years as director of the Center for Undergraduate Research & Academic Engagement, where he spearheaded the creation of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and the Global Scholars program, along with the development of IDEA Grants, which provide student funding for research and innovation.

O’Shea also serves as a higher education expert for the U.S. Department of Education and previously served on the boards of the Council on Undergraduate Research and the Gap Year Association.

A Truman and Rhodes Scholar, O’Shea has a master’s degree in comparative social policy and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Oxford. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Doing College Right: A Guide to Student Success,” published by Teachers College Press, Columbia University, and “Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs,” published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

O’Shea graduated from FSU with his bachelor’s degree in 2008, double majoring in Interdisciplinary Social Science and Philosophy. In 2007, he was elected as Student Body President and served as a member of the FSU Board of Trustees for the 2007-2008 academic year. He received the Reubin O’D. Askew Young Alumni Award from the Florida State University Alumni Association in 2013 and was inducted into the FSU’s Circle of Gold in 2010.