Fr. Holtschneider announces plans to step down
DePaul University announced today that the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., will step down from his position as president at the end of the 2016-17 academic year. After 13 years of leadership, Fr. Holtschneider will assume his tenured faculty position at DePaul, following a one-year sabbatical.
See announcement from the DePaul website after Dennis Holtschneider’s Letter announcing his plans
My dear colleagues and friends,
Last Christmas, I spent the days before the New Year on retreat, reflecting on all that has been accomplished at DePaul. Many of the goals we set at the outset of my presidency for DePaul’s enrollment, finances, academic quality, new academic programs, facilities, alumni organization, national reputation and, most importantly, its Catholic and Vincentian mission have been achieved. We’ve done this together through two, six-year strategic plans.
My intent had always been to conclude my service with the end of my contract in 2019. I realized, however, that this does not time well with DePaul’s planning cycle. We have work still to accomplish on Vision 2018, yet within a year it will be time to prepare the next set of university goals. Strategic plans are six-year affairs at DePaul, and the campaigns that fund them are often longer in duration.
I believe, therefore, it’s best for DePaul if I step aside in the summer of 2017 so that a new leader can assist the institution to name and ambitiously pursue its next set of strategic objectives. This way, momentum will continue unabated. To do otherwise would put the university in the position of having one president define the next strategic direction for another president to manage or, if we waited until 2019, put the university into a holding pattern until then.
My decision to step aside as president has been underway since my Christmas retreat. In late January, the provincial of my Vincentian congregation gave permission for this transition. I informed DePaul’s board leadership in March, at which time we decided to share this news more broadly at the conclusion of the academic year. The Office of the Secretary and board leadership interviewed and hired a search firm in early May.
Please know I am not leaving for another position. While I will remain open to assignments after 2017, my present plan is to return to DePaul in my tenured faculty position following a year away from the institution to give the new president the breathing room he or she deserves.
The leadership of the board of trustees will write the campus later today to describe the search process and invite the broad involvement that is DePaul’s custom. In the meantime, we have one more year together. I intend to use it aggressively not only to advance the Vision 2018 goals we set together several years ago, but also to work on the new goals emerging from our conversations about race and speech taking place these past weeks.
I know I will look back on my years leading DePaul with overflowing gratitude. This is an extraordinary university by any measure, and that is primarily because of the people who make up this institution. St. Vincent often attributed the developments in his life to God’s providence, and that is the only category that can encompass my experience of having been invited into the DePaul community twelve years ago. As we enter into the “baker’s dozen” year of my presidency, know how proud and grateful I am to work alongside you every day.
God bless you,
Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.
From the dePaul website…
The transition in leadership occurs after a decade of significant growth, new levels of academic achievement and national recognition for DePaul. During Fr. Holtschneider’s tenure, the university established two new colleges: the College of Communication and the College of Science and Health. The construction and acquisition of new buildings provided state-of-the-art facilities for the College of Communication, College of Education, School for New Learning, The Theatre School, liberal arts programs in Arts & Letters Hall and the DePaul Art Museum. Construction is currently underway on new facilities for the School of Music and a new events center in Chicago’s South Loop that will host DePaul basketball.
Fr. Holtschneider also led the university during the development and completion of its “Many Dreams, One Mission” capital campaign, which surpassed its goal of $250 million and raised $333 million. DePaul allocated the largest portion of the campaign to student scholarships.
DePaul’s current strategic plan, “Vision 2018: Dedication to Excellence, Commitment to Community,” launched in September 2013. Work on the university’s next strategic plan will begin during the 2017-18 academic year.
“Fr. Holtschneider has led the university through two successful strategic plans. His leadership has been transformational for DePaul,” said William Bennett, board chair. “When Fr. Holtschneider shared his plans with board leadership last March, we could not help but admire the selflessness of his decision to step down so that DePaul’s next strategic plan can proceed with its next leader in place. The board of trustees is enormously grateful for Fr. Holtschneider’s dedication to DePaul.”
DePaul Trustee and Vice Chair Jim Ryan will lead a search committee with representatives from the board, university administration, faculty, staff and students. The board invites members of the university community to submit candidate names for consideration for DePaul’s next president.
“The board is dedicated to conducting a comprehensive national search to find the best individual possible to lead the university,” Bennett said.
To assist the committee, the university has retained the services of the executive search firm, Witt/Kieffer. The board will consider both Vincentian and lay leaders.
Additional information regarding the search will be made available throughout the year as it becomes available.