New Deans Bring Deep Experience, Fresh Vision

The Sage Colleges enthusiastically welcomed three new deans prior to the fall semester: Joanne Curran, Ph.D., dean of Sage College of Albany; Donna Heald, Ph.D., dean of Russell Sage College; and Albert Orbinati, dean of the School of Professional and Continuing Education (formerly known as Sage After Work), for working adults pursuing bachelor’s degrees.

Creativity and Collaboration Priorities for Sage College of Albany Dean
Joanne Curran_ (9)“Joanne’s distinguished career in education, particularly her scholarship in creativity and the arts, are a perfect fit for SCA,” said Provost Terry Weiner, Ph.D., upon introducing Sage College of Albany Dean Joanne Curran to the college community just prior to the start of the semester.

Interdisciplinary collaboration is a hallmark of the SCA curriculum, and of Curran’s professional experience and scholarship. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Education and master’s degree in Creative Studies from SUNY College at Buffalo and worked as a special education teacher before pursuing her doctorate in Educational Psychology at Arizona State University. Prior to joining Sage, she served as associate dean of education at the State University of New York at Oneonta, where she was active in the arts and promoting creative thinking skills, and an advocate for the developmentally disabled. Her research on children’s play and the arts; working with people with intellectual disabilities; and mathematics anxiety has been presented in top journals and at international meetings.

She looks forward to working with faculty and students across academic disciplines to grow Sage College of Albany’s reputation as a center for entrepreneurship, critical thinking, and creativity. She’s pursuing two grants, one to bring art teachers to campus in the summer, and another to provide “arts incubator” space on campus for a documentary filmmaker. She also wants to foster more opportunities for the campus community to connect over shared interests, including a spirituality center on campus, and a faculty-student book club.


Russell Sage Dean Promotes Science Education, Community Connections
Donna Heald_0032“I am delighted that Donna Heald is joining Sage, and I look forward to her leadership in many areas, including furthering the education of women in science at Russell Sage College,” said President Scrimshaw, upon announcing Heald’s appointment as Russell Sage College dean.

Heald was previously associate dean for science education and director of pre- health professions advising at Fordham University, where she developed majors in environmental science and integrative neuroscience and a minor in bioinformatics. She doubled the number of students applying to schools in the health professions, established an Undergraduate Research Day and created faculty development programs in the sciences. Prior to Fordham, she was an associate professor of chemistry at Siena College and the University of Scranton. Heald is an established scholar with publications in peer reviewed journals and papers at national meetings in chemistry. She received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Scranton and both her master’s and doctorate in Chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Heald said that she first became familiar with Sage while studying at RPI and teaching at Siena, and had long been impressed by Russell Sage’s mix of liberal arts and professional programs. RSC’s pre-professional programs in the health sciences are a particular recruiting strength that she is eager to capitalize on: Biology, Chemistry, and increasingly, Biochemistry are all feeder programs for medical school and Russell Sage offers all three. She said that Russell Sage’s integration with the community, both in geography and in action is also important to her and she looks forward to building more community partnerships that complement Russell Sage’s “good, exciting, rigorous academics.”


Flexible Programming for Adult Students to Expand Under Dean of Professional & Continuing Education
Albert Orbinati_ (33)Albert Orbinati joined Sage in August as the first dean of the School of Professional and Continuing Education. His expertise in program development and marketing to adult students will bring new energy to Sage’s established adult education program, said Provost Terry Weiner.

Orbinati previously served as the director of online and non-traditional programs at Utica College, where he developed online programs in cyber security, heath care fraud, homeland security and second baccalaureate degrees in nursing. He is a captain in the New York Air National Guard, and also worked to create a veteran-friendly campus at Utica. “I was attracted to Sage because it is an institution committed to change and growth,” he said. Sage currently offers five programs entirely online, and Orbinati promised to move to quickly expand these offerings as well as hybrid and weekend-college formats. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, more than a third of students attending college are 25 or older, and Orbinati wants to make academic advising and other services more user-friendly for this population.

A competitive beatboxer and member of the a capella group One Guy Upstate, Orbinati has a master’s degree in adult education from Central Michigan University and a bachelor’s in environmental science from Binghamton. He is completing a doctorate in adult and post-secondary education at Capella University.