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Leadership

Learn more about the leadership team at Palo Alto University (PAU).

 

Maureen O'Conner

 

President

Prior to becoming President at PAU in August, 2016, Dr. Maureen O’Connor served at the City University of New York (CUNY) in New York City for 18 years. She was the 2014 recipient of the New York State Psychological Association's Margaret Floy Washburn Mentoring award.  Dr. O’Connor “I am honored and excited to have been selected as the next President of Palo Alto University. Its commitment to diversity and its strategic focus on education anchored in psychology puts it in a unique and excellent position to make a difference in our students’ lives, in Silicon Valley, and beyond.”

Dr. O’Connor completed a dual degree program in Psychology, Law, and Policy at the University of Arizona, earning both her Ph.D. and J.D. She is a member of the bar in Arizona and Washington, D.C., and clerked for the Honorable Patricia Wald, then Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  She has held numerous governance positions in the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI/APA Division 9), including as President, and is currently serving on SPSSI’s Task Force on Engaged Scholarship.

She served as Chair of the Psychology Department at John Jay College from 2002 – 2008, during which time she hired close to 30 faculty and built a leading program in law and psychology.  Since 2008 she has directed the Doctoral Program in Psychology at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center.  Through intensive strategic planning, she has supported the development of exciting programs in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience, Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Critical Psychology, and Health Psychology and Clinical Science, among others, and has overseen the accreditation processes for three clinical training programs.  Her research and teaching interests are in the intersection of psychology, gender, and law, and, in the use of scientific information and expert testimony in the legal system, particularly focused on gendered components of that process. She has been active in building a robust pedagogy development program for students, supporting the Society for the Teaching of Psychology's Graduate Student Teaching Association.

 

 

William Froming

 

Provost

Dr. William Froming has been interested in using a combination of online education and on the ground practice to train mental health professionals around the world.  He founded PAU's program in Global Advancement of Counseling Excellence (GACE).  The program trains master's level counselors in China and is expanding to other countries.  It addresses a severe shortage of mental health professionals in many countries around the world.  He is also helping to shape PAU's initiative in Global Mental Health of which GACE is a key component.

Dr. Froming's background is in personality and social psychology. He focuses primarily on social development and the process by which social norms are internalized by children. This is thought of as the development of self-regulation. He is also interested in genocide and the common features shared by genocides of the 20th century. He has studied the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide, interviewed survivors, and taught and written on the topic.

Dr. Froming taught for eleven years in the University of Florida Psychology Department following undergraduate work at the U of Wisconsin, Madison and a Ph.D. from the U of Texas, Austin. He was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford in 1986. He has also taught for the U of New Orleans in Innsbruck, Austria and at the National University in Butare, Rwanda. He has been at PAU since 1988. In addition to his faculty role he has served in a number of administrative positions including Chief Academic Officer, Faculty Chair, and Director of the Distance Learning program. He holds PAU's Nancy Black Cozzens Chair in Psychology.

 

 

James Breckenridge

 

Dean

James N. Breckenridge, Ph.D., is Dean of Academic Administration and Operations and Chief Academic Officer for Institutional Research. Dr. Breckenridge chairs the Educational Effectiveness Committee, which advises the Provost on the effectiveness of PAU academic programs and their alignment with the University’s strategic priorities. Dr. Breckenridge is also responsible for administrative oversight of the Gronowski Center, where he has been a strong proponent of multicultural services, such as La Clinica Latina.

Dr. Breckenridge is Palo Alto University’s Academic Liaison Officer to the regional accrediting agency, the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), and a member of the WSCUC Substantive Change Committee.

After twenty-five years of service, Dr. Breckenridge retired from his position as Chief of the Psychology Service at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and joined Palo Alto University in September 2005. For the next seven years, Dr. Breckenridge served as Co-Director of Clinical Training of the PGSP-Stanford Consortium. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and has been a Consulting Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Since 2001, Dr. Breckenridge's academic interests have centered on social-psychological processes that have potential to augment or diminish political conflict. Dr. Breckenridge is currently Vice President of the non-profit educational Foundation for Peace and Justice and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California. He has served as principal investigator on a variety of funded research projects investigating social and psychological processes related to responses to the threat of terrorism, risk communication, and Americans’ appraisals of national security policies and institutions. He directed a grant from the National Science Foundation to evaluate psychological measures for detecting deception and for improving national security evaluations, which was part of a broader effort intended to guide Congressional priorities for future research. Dr. Breckenridge was the Principal Investigator on a Medical Response Corps grant funded by the Department of Health and Human Services to develop an evidenced-based psychological of early response to acts of terror. Along with nineteen other academics and twenty Government personnel, Dr. Breckenridge participated in the Summer Hard Problem Program (SHARP) sponsored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In a classified setting, SHARP explored implications of factors that cause individuals or communities to coalesce into terrorist movements. 

 
 
 
 

Contact

1791 Arastradero Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304

Phone: (800) 818-6136 Fax: (650) 433-3888

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