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Dominican University President Donna Carroll Announces Retirement

Thursday, October 22, 2020

River Forest, IL—After almost three decades of visionary leadership, Dominican University President Donna M. Carroll has announced her retirement, effective June, 2021. The university is conducting a presidential search.

Appointed as Dominican’s first lay president in 1994, Carroll was one of the youngest—and one of few women—college presidents in the country. She currently is one of the longest-serving university presidents in the state of Illinois.

Three years after her appointment, she guided the university through a successful name change—from Rosary College to Dominican University, recognizing the institution’s growth while honoring its founding Dominican Order.

Carroll has led the university during a period of extraordinary and sustained growth. During her tenure, the number of full-time faculty has doubled, new schools and programs have been established and the university’s operating budget has increased four-fold. She has managed three campaigns that raised more than $165 million in support for student aid, programs and facilities, including five endowed chairs, three new buildings, and countless scholarships in addition to significant federal grant support. It was during Carroll’s tenure that the university purchased a second campus and, most recently, dedicated a new Learning Commons, an area encompassing integrated student services, study space and the WeatherTech Innovation Lab.

The university is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as #10 among157 regional universities in the Midwest, the best value school in the Chicago area and #1 in Illinois for the social mobility of its students. Dominican places a high priority on closing the equity gap in its student body, half of whom are first-generation-to-college and nearly half of whom are Pell eligible.

“Dominican has been incredibly blessed to have Donna at our helm for more than 26 years, crafting and leading one of the greatest institutional transformations in the history of U.S. higher education,” said Tom Abrahamson, board chairperson. “Donna is the best-of-the-best among college presidents. While it is hard to imagine Dominican without her, and we will miss her terribly, we are also eternally grateful for everything she has done and will continue to do between now and her well-earned retirement next June. Donna embodies the Dominican ethos of caritas et veritas (love and truth). We wish her the very best and look forward to celebrating her success in the months ahead.”

An outspoken advocate for immigration reform and the rights of undocumented students, Carroll guided Dominican University as it crafted a Sanctuary Campus resolution in 2016. She has been honored for her leadership, advocacy and contributions to higher education by numerous organizations including Crain’s Chicago Business, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“Too often a president is credited with the accumulated successes of an institution. Please know that I know the truth—that it has taken the talent, hard work and sacrifice of many individuals, over the years, to build the Dominican of today. How blessed I am to be a part of such a dedicated community,” Carroll wrote in her announcement to the faculty and staff.

About Dominican University

Founded in 1901, Dominican University is a comprehensive, coeducational Catholic institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the Rosary College of Arts and Sciences, the Borra College of Health Sciences, the Brennan School of Business and the College of Applied Social Sciences. The university also offers a doctoral degree in information studies. U.S. News & World Report ranks Dominican University #10 of all Midwest regional master’s level universities, the best value in the Chicago area and #1 in Illinois for ensuring the social mobility of its graduates.