Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Donahue Announces Departure

Dean to Leave GU in July for Calif. Theological Union

By James Di Liberto Jr. Hoya Staff Writer

In an unexpected press conference yesterday afternoon, Dean of Students James A. Donahue announced that he will leave Georgetown at the end of the academic year to become the new president of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.

GTU is a center for ecumenical graduate theological study and a consortium of nine schools of theology, including the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

“Leaving Georgetown is difficult for me personally,” Donahue said yesterday. However Donahue is moving on to other projects, “The Graduate Theological Union is one of the most exciting centers for studying religion and culture; to study religion into the next millennium,” he said.

Donahue, who will remain dean through July 1, 2000, described his coming departure as “happy, sad and bittersweet.” Until July, in addition to his duties as dean, he will also continue to chair the university’s Licensing Implementation Committee that sets standards for apparel production.

According to University Provost Dorothy Brown, a search committee will be formed immediately to look for Donahue’s replacement.

“We’re going to work very hard to make sure [hiring a new dean before Donahue’s departure] happens,” Brown said. If there is no one in Donahue’s place by next July, an “acting” dean will be named.

Brown began to contact the faculty about Donahue’s departure yesterday afternoon, and hopes to have a search committee in place within 10 days. The committee will be comprised of various faculty and students.

The committee will be composed of several students selected through GUSA because, Brown said, “We want to have students’ input on selecting the new dean of students.”

The committee will not only formulate a job description but also select a search firm and oversee the selection of a new dean. Donahue, though, will not be involved in the search for his replacement.

“I’d like to see the new person be more responsive to the students needs and concerns and be willing to take a stand for the students,” said GPB Chair Michael J. Boyle (MSB ’00).

Administrators praised Donahue for his work at Georgetown.

“Jim Donahue will always be a true and loyal son of Georgetown,” said University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. “Jim has provided excellent leadership at Georgetown, as I’m sure he will for theological education.”

Brown also noted how Donahue’s selection as the new GTU president is emblematic of Georgetown’s capable administrators. “Georgetown is becoming a kind of mother of presidents,” Brown said. “Last year it was Dean [of the College Robert] Lawton [S.J.], and now it’s Jim.” Last year, Lawton left Georgetown to become president of Loyola Marymount University.

John Weiser, chairman of the GTU Board of Trustees, said that Donahue was chosen after an intensive six-month search that included over 100 people.

“We were very impressed with his demonstrated ability to work with a variety of different groups and build consensus.”

Weiser cited that this ability to “build consensus” is important for the GTU, which is made up of a number of Protestant, Jewish and Buddhist seminaries. He also said that Donahue’s “physical and intellectual energy, management skills and strong theological background” made him their top pick.

Donahue became the dean of students in 1993, having been a member of Georgetown’s theology department faculty since 1985. He also won the Bunn Award for faculty excellence in 1992 – an award which Weiser mentioned as an important reason for selecting Donahue. In many ways, Donahue’s departure is a return to these academic roots.

Donahue graduated from Holy Cross and earned his masters in divinity from Princeton and his doctorate from GTU.

“[The GTU position] is an opportunity to get back to my field. I was trained as a theologian and I will be able to pursue my deeply personal and intellectual interests,” Donahue said.

Donahue has continued to teach throughout his tenure as an administrator. The coming spring semester will be the first time since he became the dean that he will not be teaching a class. However, his decision not to teach a class next semester was not connected to his acceptance of the GTU’s offer. “I decided not to teach in order to focus more on my research,” he said.

While Donahue said he will continue his theological research next semester, he plans to also continue his work on various student committess, such as the Licensing Implementation Committee and the Campus Culture Task Force.

“I’m really disappointed he’s leaving,” said GUSA president Ron Palmese (MSB ’00). “I think students will miss him – he really cares about the students.”

Looking back on his years at Georgetown, Donahue said, “I would like [to be remembered as fostering] a greater integration inside and outside the classroom; that the idea of educating the whole person would become an actual reality.”

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