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FBF: Sabine O’Hara – Roanoke’s First and Only Woman President


maxresdefaultSabine O’Hara, Roanoke College’s first and only female president, became president of Roanoke College in 2004 and served in the position until 2007. She was the College’s tenth president and directly preceded President Maxey.

President O’Hara was elected unanimously by Roanoke College’s Board of Trustees. Her term began with the school in a strong place and it finished with growth in all areas of higher education.

O’Hara, versed in all aspects of higher education, implemented a strategic plan in an effort to capitalize on the goals set by the college. These goals included an emphasis on integrative learning, new education goals, and a redefinition of the experience of freshman.

Prior to her position at Roanoke, O’Hara worked in other institutes of higher education. She held a position at a fellow Lutheran College, Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota as well as Green Mountain College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. For a time, O’Hara was a visiting professor at Harvard University.

O’Hara presided over many institutions that are still being worked on by the College. Within her time at Roanoke, the Undergraduate Research Program (URAP) was formed. It has since expanded from the sciences to include some areas of the humanities, including a larger range of students and faculty within the benefits the program has to offer.

Other notable academic achievements include the establishment of the Goode-Pasfield Center for Learning and Teaching, which is housed in Fintel Library. This achievement has expanded the College’s ability to assist all students’ learning styles and offer assistance in areas of need. It also serves as a proctoring center for students with conflicting test schedules.

Not only did O’Hara spearhead some noteworthy academic achievements, her time as President also resulted in other developments on campus. The Kerr Stadium was completed during her time. She also built the first new residence halls since 1968.

O’Hara left Roanoke College in 2007. During her last year, the College received the largest number of applications, which resulted in the largest freshman class to enter Roanoke. She also graduated the biggest senior class the school had seen. Overall, President O’Hara left the school on a path to growth that future students will continue to benefit from.

Since her departure from Roanoke, O’Hara has spent time as the Managing Director and Vice President of Professors Beyond Borders and Principal of Global Ecology LLC where she has been able to utilize her skills in economic development, education on a global level and leadership. She also spent time as the Executive Director of the Council for International Exchange Scholars (CIES), which deals directly with Fulbright Scholars.