David Yellen, the dean of Loyola’s law school, will leave Loyola to join Marist College in New York as president after the end of this spring semester.
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Michael Kaufman will temporarily replace Yellen as interim dean after Yellen’s departure on July 1.
The process for the search to replace Yellen is still being discussed, according to John Pelissero, Loyola’s interim president and former provost, but it is expected to include a national search.
The provost decides how each dean will be selected, and recently Loyola has promoted interim deans to dean without having a national search.
In July 2015, the Quinlan School appointed Loyola alum Kevin Stevens as dean after concluding a national search headed by then-provost Pelissero. At the time, Stevens was at DePaul University serving as director of the School of Accountancy and Management Information Systems and director of global initiatives in the College of Business.
The decision came three months after the College of Arts and Sciences announced its new dean, Father Thomas Regan, and three months before Terry Pigott was named dean of the School of Education, both of whom previously served as the interim dean of their respective schools.
“After nine months of serving as interim dean, [Pelissero] emailed me to come to his office,” said Regan. “I walked over to Burrowes Hall, and he offered me the job.”
The process for Regan’s appointment did not involve applicants or other nominees for the job. Instead, Pelissero said he conducted an internal review by sending letters to every department chair, asking for their thoughts on the search and if their faculties were comfortable with Regan as the dean. It was unanimous to keep him.
“There were only a few departments that expressed concern,” said Pelissero. “The objection had nothing to do with the choice of [Regan]. It was over the potential precedent being established, especially for a large college and as flagship in the Jesuit community.”
Some faculty members are still uneasy about the idea of having a decision made through an informal process that fails to conduct an outside search. It produces less honest feedback than if done through a closed setting, according to Tim Classen, professor and chair of Faculty Council.
“Opinions expressed by faculty can be more reserved and limited if it is on the record and about someone who could still become their boss,” said Classen.
To limit the pressures of voicing opinions in such a hierarchical structure, the Faculty Council has been working on recommendations to improve dean searches that would involve the creation and use of search committees.
“The council’s concern is having proper faculty and administrative input and involvement in hiring deans,” said Classen. “It is an important part of shared governance.”
Classen did understand and acknowledge the circumstances that influenced Pelissero’s decision to appoint the interims to deans. At the time of Regan’s appointment, the College of Arts and Sciences had been through three deans in the past four years and the School of Education had four in as many years when Pigott was named.
Continuity in deans is necessary for faculty and administration, especially for the ones on tenure track who rely on a dean’s final approval for tenure status, according to Pelissero. The relationships developed and expectations set by deans are important for a school but are lost each time one leaves, Regan added.
Still, there are decisions that must be extensively discussed by a search committee, said Classen. One is whether a search firm should be hired, which can cost a lot of money. Another is if the interim dean should be required to submit an application into a pool of candidates if they want the position, which could potentially turn off a high-qualified candidate.
“I am not implying faculty voices are not heard, for I can’t think of a search where the faculty were excluded,” said Classen. “It is about the degree of involvement, and the search committee is the most ideal approach to take.”
The idea is worth exploring from the perspective of Alex Matheis, 20-year-old sophomore accounting and information systems double major.
“You hate to have a layover in leadership and delay in decision making,” said Matheis. “But if there are parties who don’t feel fully represented or heard, perhaps it should be considered.”