Career Overview

Gary A. Olson is a noted scholar of rhetoric, writing, and culture and the President of Daemen College in Amherst, New York, a private, co-educational, comprehensive college awarding both undergraduate and graduate degrees to a student body of over 3,000 students.

From 2009-2011 he served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Idaho State University. A multi-campus, Carnegie Foundation “Research High” doctoral university, Idaho State serves as the state’s principal university promoting education in the health care professions and related sciences. Olson oversaw seven colleges, ISU’s libraries, and the Idaho Museum of Natural History.

Olson served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Illinois State University from 2004 to 2009, where he led the college through an five-year strategic plan; created a college-wide technology support unit; established the college’s weekly newsletter; formed three high-level advisory boards; launched a number of faculty support initiatives; and created the institution’s largest faculty and staff recognition awards, raising nearly a quarter of a million dollars to endow them.

For nearly two decades (1985-2004), Olson served as an administrator and faculty member at the University of South Florida, one of the nation’s top 63 public research universities offering 219 degree programs (including the MD) to over 46,000 students on four campuses. Olson served as the chief academic officer at USF’s St. Petersburg campus from 2002 to 2004, helping to lead the campus to become a free-standing, self-governing, and separately accredited campus within the USF system.

Olson writes a popular monthly column on higher education administration for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and he is co-editor, with John W. Presley, of The Future of Higher Education: Perspectives from America’s Academic Leaders (Paradigm, 2009).

He is the author or editor (often in collaboration) of 20 books and over 100 essays and articles and has written on a number of subjects central to rhetoric studies, including the role of theory in rhetorical scholarship, the connections between ideology and discourse, and the contributions of Stanley Fish. His most recent book is A Creature of Our Own Making: Reflections on Contemporary Academic Life (SUNY Press, 2013).