Psychologist, lawyer, educator named as the new President of Palo Alto University

Photo of Maureen O'Connor

Palo Alto University Board of Trustees announced that Dr. Maureen O’Connor is the incoming President of Palo Alto University on August 1st, 2016 succeeding Dr. Allen Calvin, the current President.  Dr. Calvin has served this university for over 30 years with tremendous success and will retire this summer and enjoy more time with his family.

The new President, Maureen O’Connor, has been at the City University of New York (CUNY) in New York City for the last 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.

“Maureen O’Connor brings to Palo Alto University a new energy, incisive positive outlook and tremendous enthusiasm,” said James Otieno, Chairman of Palo Alto University’s Board of Trustees. “I am sure that Maureen will continue to build on the legacy of Dr. Calvin.”




Dr. Allen Calvin, President of Palo Alto University, to retire August, 2016

Photo of Allen Calvin

Ahead of his retirement this coming summer, we would like to express our most sincere thanks to Dr. Allen Calvin, who has served for more than 30 years as President of Palo Alto University (PAU). 

We are deeply proud and incredibly grateful for the outstanding accomplishments achieved through his visionary leadership and entrepreneurial spirit. His unwavering commitment to diversity, alongside a unique ability to form strong partnerships for the university is second-to-none. 

PAU's enrollment has increased from fewer than 50 students when he took over as President to over 1,000 today.  He changed the face of the school, and broadened its scope from a graduate college to include undergraduate programs, tuition stabilization programs, and a shared governance structure with the faculty, while maintaining a strict focus on PAU’s financial well-being.

The Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, now Palo AltoUniversity, was founded in 1975.  In 1984 Dr. Calvin accepted the position of President.  During his 32 years as President of PAU he has brought critical vision and leadership that transformed a graduate school into a full-fledged university with a world-renowned faculty.  PAU was first accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in 1987 and by the American Psychological Association in 1988. In 2000, we started our distance learning M.S. Degree in Psychology program which led the way for other online programs.

In 2002, determined to continue growing our range of doctorate programs, Dr. Calvin established a consortium with Stanford Universityfor our Psy.D. Program.  This dynamic program is taught by an outstanding faculty drawn from Palo Alto University and the Stanford University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. The curriculum emphasizes empirically supported psychological interventions, psychological assessment, ethics, diversity and culture, psychopathology, and research evaluation, along with a solid foundation of coursework in psychological science.

In 2006, Dr. Calvin introduced PAU’s bachelor's degree program, Psychology and Social Action, followed in 2008 by the innovative Business Psychology program.  The classes take place at the community college campuses of De Anza College, Foothill College, and the College of San Mateo.  The programs accept students who have completed their general education and allow them to complete their bachelor's degree on an accessible community college campus, with guaranteed entry to classes helping ensure timely completion in two years. PAU is proud to fulfill society’s need for timely, affordable higher education.

Dr. Calvin is relentless in creating a community focused on improving lives.  Under his guidance, PAU created the Gronowski Clinic in Los Altos; a psychology training clinic dedicated to providing compassionate counseling and psychotherapy services.  Low-income members of the community who suffer from mental health issues get professional treatment without facing financial strain.  Dr. Calvin set an example by making personal donations to create scholarships for our students as well as encouraging Bay Area leaders to donate to PAU’s scholarship fund. 

Dr. Allen Calvin has touched the lives of countless numbers of students, staff, faculty, and community leaders through his teaching, guidance, encouragement, and scholarship.  We are deeply grateful for his service and leadership and we wish him all the very best for his upcoming retirement.

He will be greatly missed here at Palo Alto University.

For more information, contact Helena Ting, Ed.D., Vice President of Community Development,, 650-520-3451.

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