Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
As we move into the second half of this semester, I want to take this opportunity to provide an update regarding the successor to Dr. Johannes as Vice President for Academic Affairs.
I have stated that I want to move in a new direction and elevate the position to University Provost. This person will serve a vital role in promoting our Catholic Augustinian educational mission; moving our academic and student life programs to new levels of distinction; developing and supporting faculty teaching, scholarship, research and service; allocating resources to support established programs and create new centers of innovation, creativity and excellence. She or he will need to be a luminary for Villanova and understand the complexities of issues facing domestic and international higher education. As we move forward with Villanova’s Strategic Plan, the Provost will play a major part in achieving its goals. The creation of this position represents an important change in the culture of Villanova University and I believe it demands careful planning and execution.
I am grateful for the insights and guidance I have received so far from my Cabinet, the Faculty Congress, the Committee on Faculty, the Academic Policy Committee, and the Board of Trustees. In addition, I have sought the counsel of many individuals and colleagues throughout Higher Education. Those who have advised me have made it clear that as the Chief Academic Officer, the Provost is second only to the President and that my working relationship with her or him is of utmost importance. As one president told me in language she thought I would appreciate, “Be careful and take your time; You need to find the right dancing partner.” I think this is sound advice not just for me but for our entire community.
Dr. Johannes will be stepping down from the position of VPAA on May 31, 2010. Villanova owes him a great deal of thanks for fifteen years of dedicated service to the academic life of the University. He will be taking a sabbatical and will join the Political Science faculty when he returns. Jack has given me wonderful guidance and I am personally grateful to him for showing me the ropes.
I have asked Fr. Kail Ellis, O.S.A., current Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, to assume the duties of Vice President for Academic Affairs effective June 1, 2010. He will maintain this title as we begin the search for the individual who will assume the role of Provost. During his 25 years as Dean, Fr. Ellis has guided the College to great achievements and significant curriculum advancements. He will bring to the role of Vice President for Academic Affairs his knowledge of the University and his wisdom in administration.
This change brings with it another opportunity as it will open the door to new leadership in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This is another crucial position within the University and Fr. Ellis will be a valuable resource as we begin the search for a new Dean. I have asked Dr. John Doody to serve as Acting Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for one year. Dr. Doody currently serves as Associate Dean for First Year Studies, Director of the Villanova Center for Liberal Education and holds the Robert Birmingham Endowed Chair in Humanities. He possesses a strong background in the administration of the College and I am grateful for his willingness to adjust his responsibilities to assume the position of Dean for one year.
I realize that there may be some concern regarding filling these key roles on a short-term basis. However, I take very seriously the task of finding the right people for these positions and am therefore committed to conducting search processes that are thorough, thoughtful and effective. Such processes will take time and so it is appropriate to make these appointments to assure steady leadership and stewardship of our academic programs.
I ask for your support as we navigate through this period of change. Both Fr. Ellis and Dr. Doody possess a great deal of Villanova-related knowledge and experience, and I am confident that they will move the University forward in these roles. Each of them has graciously agreed to take hold of different reins and will need our cooperation in their new responsibilities.
Change isn’t always easy but it is my hope that these particular changes will contribute meaningfully to the Villanova community and lead us to new accomplishments.