April 27, 2006 • Volume 14 Number 16

Joseph Quinn has been dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since 1999.

Quinn: A 'Decent Time' to Step Down

A&S Dean will leave post and rejoin faculty after 2006-07 academic year

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Joseph Quinn says his recent decision to return to teaching at the end of the 2006-2007 academic year comes at the perfect time for him - and for the University.

"My intention has always been to return to the Economics Department," says Quinn, who has been A&S dean since 1999. "The real question was 'when?'"

Quinn, having notified University President William P. Leahy, SJ, and Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties Bert Garza of his decision, last week sent a letter to A&S faculty members informing them of the forthcoming transition.

"I think a couple of things argue that this is a decent time to do it," said Quinn, in an interview Tuesday morning. "As exciting as these seven years have been, the next eight years - which will include the implementation of all the strategic planning - are going to be even more exciting.

"It is important to have continuity in the office during that time, so when I compare a scenario in which I go back to the Economics Department at age 60 - which is what I will be - with eight years 'out of the saddle,' compared to one where I think about staying on through the implementation stage and go back at 68, with 16 years out of the saddle, the first scenario just makes more sense.

"I have loved being dean," Quinn adds. "It's been great. But when I look at the kind of commitment that should be made for this next stage, I actually think that it would be better to have a new person with that 'beginning of a journey' feel taking over."

Quinn says he asked Fr. Leahy and Garza to set the timetable for his stepping down. "The timing I want to do is whatever is best for the University," he said.

With a year's notice, the University will have time to conduct a wide-ranging search for his successor, Quinn notes.

"This is such an attractive University, and this is such an exciting time in our history that I expect that we will get a fabulous pool of applicants for the job. It really is a terrific opportunity."

Looking back over his seven years as dean, Quinn points to several accomplishments. "The thing I am most proud of is the spectacular faculty that we have brought on board and have retained. People don't always know the details of these things, but many of our faculty are always getting really attractive offers from other equally prestigious, or in many cases, higher-ranked universities. With a very small number of exceptions, we have been able to keep these terrific people here.

"Our job is to convince them that 'You can do your best work here,'" he says. "In most cases that is the decision they have made."

Quinn cited the expansion of an Academic Advising Center as another significant accomplishment of his term.

"Another highlight is working with the wonderful associate deans and staff in my office. We have some great permanent people and we have also had some great luck in convincing some of our best faculty to join us for a year or two."

Quinn says that he has kept up with developments in his field of academic specialization, the economics of aging. "It becomes more interesting and more relevant with each passing year," he laughs.

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