Dr. Damián J. Fernández, President

Dr. Damián J. Fernández has been named the 10th president of Warren Wilson College. He will assume the role as president on June 1, 2023.

A Cuban immigrant who grew up in Puerto Rico and a first-generation college student, Fernández comes to Warren Wilson with more than 30 years of experience in teaching and leadership positions at both private and public institutions. Most recently, he served as president of Eckerd College.

Fernández’s aspirations for Warren Wilson College include advancing innovative programs that deepen project- and problem-based learning, growing and diversifying enrollment, addressing facilities and other institutional needs, and rethinking the traditional business model of liberal arts colleges.

During his time at Eckerd, Fernández raised more than $38 million, enrollment reached its highest point, the annual fund set a new record, and the Board approved a strategic plan that prioritized innovation in the liberal arts, community engagement, Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging, and financial and environmental sustainability. The college launched initiatives to deepen student learning (including a farm and the living shoreline restoration project), funded seed grants for faculty and student collaboration, and established the St. Pete Center for Civic Engagement, the Office of Inclusive Excellence, The Nielsen Center for the Liberal Arts, and the Seville Center in Spain.

Fernández received his bachelor’s from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, master’s in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida, and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Miami. His research interests center on Latin American politics and international relations. He is the author of the book “Cuba and the Politics of Passion.”

A catalytic leader and progressive educator, he is a National Science Foundation grant recipient, and he sat on the Board of the American Council on Education (ACE) and on the Association of Governing Boards Council of Presidents. ACE profiled him in their series on equity-minded leadership. He said Warren Wilson’s values, heritage and pedagogy resonate deeply with him.