MORAGA (KCBS) – Saint Mary’s College of California introduced its new president, Dr. James Donahue, in a special ceremony on Tuesday. He is the first lay person to serve in that position in the college’s 150-year history.

Dr. Donahue, a respected theologian, has been the president of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley for the past 12 years. He said that he was thankful to be chosen and was drawn to Saint Mary’s mission of probing the fundamental questions of human existence in the context of the Catholic and Lasallian tradition.

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“Higher education is in an interesting state these days. There are a lot of challenges and I think Saint Mary’s is uniquely poised to be a leader in addressing some of these issues,” he said.

Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees Chairman Russell Harrison said it took more than six months and an international search before the 17-member committee made a selection.

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“To the surprise of all, our international search ended up with strong first choice, just miles away on the other side of the Berkeley Hills,” he said.

The Catholic liberal arts college is one of the oldest in California. It has 2,800 undergraduate and nearly 1,300 graduate students, and is affiliated with the De La Salle Christian Brothers, an order dedicated to teaching.

Dr. Donahue’s will start his first day as president on July 1.

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