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College of Arts and Sciences & Graduate School Dean to Leave in June, University Officials Announce

courtesy of Loyola University ChicagoThe Rev. Thomas J. Regan, S.J., will leave his role at Loyola at the end of June.

The dean of multiple colleges within Loyola is leaving the university by the end of June after being reassigned, officials said in an email to students. To accommodate his departure Loyola will conduct an expedited search and ideally will have his replacements by the end of May, according to Loyola Provost Norberto Grzywacz. 

The Rev. Thomas J. Regan, S.J., the dean of College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Graduate School,  has been assigned to become the rector — leader of the Jesuit community — at his alma-mater Fordham University, a Jesuit university in New York City. His last day at Loyola will be June 30, according to Regan. 

Jesuits are assigned to their roles by the Father General  — the international leader of the Jesuit order — and if a Jesuit is reassigned, they’re obligated to follow that assignment, according to Regan. 

This isn’t the first time a high ranking Jesuit has left the school for Fordham. Former Loyola President the Rev. Michael Garanzini, S.J., left his position as chancellor — a largely ceremonial role involved with fundraising — to take a faculty research position at Fordham, The Phoenix reported.

“He will be missed,” said Benjamin Johnson, the president of Loyola’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). “He was an advocate for undergraduate education and the faculty members who did it.”

Regan has been at Loyola since 2011, first working as the director of Loyola’s master’s program for Jesuits. He then became the interim dean of CAS in June 2014 and was offered the full-time role in April 2015, The Phoenix reported

He was also appointed as dean of the Graduate School in 2017 after Loyola had a hard time finding the right candidate for that role, according to Grzywacz.  

Regan said he appreciated his time at Loyola and will follow this new assignment willingly. 

“I’m happy wherever I was,” Regan said. “There’s plus and minuses to every place I’ve been, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here.” 

Ideally, the CAS position will be filled by the end of May, according to Regan. The Graduate School position should be filled within the upcoming weeks since Loyola has been conducting a search for the dean of the Graduate School for close to a year now, according to Grzywacz. 

Both dean positions Regan is leaving behind will be filled separately, according to Grzywacz. 

Johnson said he’s glad Loyola plans to replace Regan with two people. Since it would be hard for one person to effectively advocate for both colleges simultaneously, according to Johnson. 

With the suddenness of Regan’s departure, the university will conduct an “expedited” search for the next CAS dean that will be done by a search committee comprised of university administrators, CAS faculty and a Loyola student, according to Regan. The next dean for CAS will be someone who currently works at Loyola, according to Grzywacz. 

The CAS dean search process is unusual since Loyola would normally place an interim dean and conduct a year-long national search for a replacement. But with the multitude of important decisions facing Loyola — such as addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, creating new a new strategic plan for the university and negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with non-tenured and part-time employees — Regan said it wouldn’t make sense to temporarily appoint someone to this position. 

Regan dealt with many labor disputes during his tenure as dean of the Graduate School. In 2018, there were numerous protests and strikes by Loyola’s part-time employees, The Phoenix reported. Eventually, the two sides came to an agreement, The Phoenix reported. Since that agreement, no formal employment complaints have been filed against the university on behalf of the part-time employees, Regan said. 

However, Loyola’s Graduate Workers’ Union (LGWU) — a group of graduate students who voted to unionize in 2017 advocate that they should be considered as workers and not students— have protested Regan’s and Loyola’s stance around the rights of graduate students as workers.

The Union argues graduate students provide essential services to the university by helping teach classes and grad papers, according to Alec Stubbs the co-chair of LGWU. Regan and the university have held the position that graduate students should be considered students first, The Phoenix reported. Loyola views the experience graduate students gain while working in teacher’s aide (TA) positions for the university as a part of their education, according to Regan. 

The graduate workers’ union doesn’t think it should matter whether or not TA positions are part of an educational experience, according to  Stubbs.

Stubbs said Regan was willing to help on certain labor-related issues such as slightly increasing stipends and travel funds for graduate students. Regan said he advocated to give out the biggest stipend possible to graduate students but said Loyola has a limited budget and can only give out so much stipend money to graduate students. 

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