UM Hires New Missoula College Dean

May 07, 2015

Shannon O'Brien

MISSOULA – Shannon O’Brien, the education policy adviser for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, will become the next dean of Missoula College University of Montana on July 1.

O’Brien replaces Interim Dean Jane Baker, who has led MC since October 2014, and Barry Good, who was dean from 2006 to 2014.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Shannon to campus,” UM Provost Perry Brown said. “She has the right mix of experience to lead Missoula College into the future, as well as into the college’s new building on East Broadway when it opens in summer 2017.”

O’Brien was selected after a national search by a committee led by Chris Comer, dean of UM’s College of Humanities and Sciences.

In her current position, O’Brien advises the governor on early childhood care and education, K-12 and postsecondary development, and workforce and economic development.

She earned a doctorate in educational leadership from UM in 2013. She also holds a certificate in education administration from the University of Washington (2007), a master’s degree in teaching and secondary social studies from Gonzaga University (1994) and a bachelor’s in political science from UW (1991).

O’Brien has held several teaching and administrative positions, including those at the American School in Madrid, Spain; Stanwood (Washington) High School; Ferndale (Washington) School District; and Appalachian State University in North Carolina. She worked as an independent consultant for educational and organizational change from 2007 to 2013, and from 2009 to 2011 she was an instructor and adjunct professor at UM’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences.

“I’m ready for this new role,” O’Brien said. “Missoula College is poised to take a leap in enrollment, resource development and statewide leadership. I appreciate that it’s positioned within an outstanding four-year university and a community of private industry leaders who are ready and willing to collaborate.”

Contact: Perry Brown, UM provost and vice president for academic affairs, 406-243-4689,