Albion College Board of Trustees Elects Michael J. Harrington, ’85, as Chair

Outgoing chair J. Donald Sheets, ’82, will continue to serve on board as head of Finance Committee.

May 4, 2020

Michael J. Harrington, ’85

The Board of Trustees of Albion College has elected Michael J. Harrington, ’85, as its new chairman.

The Indianapolis attorney and retired corporate executive will lead the 27-person board of the nationally recognized private four-year liberal arts college after serving as a trustee for eight years. He succeeds J. Donald Sheets, ’82, who joined the board in 2006 and has served as chair for the past seven years. Sheets, who resides in Midland, Mich., and is the retired vice chairman and chief financial officer of Dow Corning Corp., will continue his tenure on the Albion board as chair of the Finance Committee.

Harrington steps into this leadership role as Albion College welcomes Dr. Mathew B. Johnson as its 17th president on July 1. Harrington chaired the search process that identified Johnson from a field of 100-plus candidates and will work closely with him as Albion continues its focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, strengthens its ties to the community and positions itself as a modern liberal arts institution focused on bold education methods.

Johnson comes to Albion College from Brown University, where he served as associate dean of the College for Engaged Scholarship and senior fellow and executive director of the Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service.

“Albion is uniquely positioned to offer our students a 21st-century education focused on strong academic performance, innovative teaching methods and a foundation anchored in the liberal arts,” Harrington said. “Under the leadership of Dr. Mauri Ditzler, the College improved enrollment, expanded academic programming, partnered with the community on redevelopment and enhanced DEI initiatives, among other things.

“We have a strong foundation on which to continue building. I’m honored to serve alongside Dr. Johnson as we confront the challenges ahead and strive to enhance Albion’s national role as a premier liberal arts college.”

A native of Arlington Heights, Ill., Harrington spent nearly three decades with Eli Lilly and Company, retiring in January as its senior vice president and general counsel. During his tenure with the pharmaceutical company, he held positions of increasing responsibility where he managed its litigation portfolio and a legal team of 250, restructured its New Zealand operations, developed international teams, pioneered and directed global strategy, guided investor communications and managed several billion-dollar acquisitions.

Beyond his corporate executive experience, Harrington is an active board member for national organizations and in Indianapolis. He currently serves on the boards of the National Center for State Courts, Leadership Council for Legal Diversity and Indiana Repertory Theatre. He has also served on the boards of United Way of Central Indiana and Civil Justice Reform Group.

J. Donald Sheets, ’82, serves as the Albion College Board of Trustees’ Finance Committee chair following his service as board chair from 2013-2020.

J. Donald Sheets, ’82

“I have had the privilege to work alongside Mike over the past eight years,” Sheets said. “His thoughtful insight and strong, steady leadership have been a true asset to Albion College. I know he will continue to offer his wealth of experience and knowledge to drive the college and community forward.

“As chair of the search committee, Mike is also perfectly positioned to begin his tenure as board chair at the same time as our new president, Dr. Mathew Johnson. I am extremely confident in their ability to work closely with students, faculty, staff, alumni and the full board to create a bold, unified vision to accelerate Albion’s momentum.”

Harrington is a graduate of Albion College and also holds his juris doctorate from Columbia University School of Law and an executive master of business administration from Stanford University and National University of Singapore.

Harrington began his tenure as board chair on May 4.