Architect and urban planner named as new Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dean

Guillermo V‡squez de Velasco, dean of DePaul University's College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (LAS) (Photo by Christopher Helms)
Guillermo V‡squez de Velasco, dean of DePaul University’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (LAS) (Photo by Christopher Helms)

The university announced today the selection of architect and urban planner Guillermo Vásquez de Velasco as the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Vásquez de Velasco is currently the vice provost and professor of architecture at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He previously served as dean for the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State from 2007 to 2015.

A native of Peru, Vasquez de Velasco has both held academic posts and worked as an architect in several countries around the world, including Belgium, Canada and his native country.

“Everything can be a subject of design, and in some measure everyone is a designer. We design all the time,” Vásquez de Velasco said. “At DePaul, we have an opportunity to design a 21st century college of liberal arts and social sciences that can serve as a global model. I am captivated by the many strengths of the college, and I am eager to start working in such an exciting environment.”

The search process that led to Vásquez de Velasco’s appointment started in controversy after it was announced in September that embattled Dean of the College of Science and Health Gerald Koocher would be the academic affairs representative on the search committee.

This led to a coalition of LAS Faculty Council members, LAS Senate representatives and LASAC members sending an email to Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M. and Provost Marten denBoer requesting that Koocher be removed from the committee.

“This deanship is a highly desirable position that should draw interested applicants from across the country,” the email said. “However, the recent media attention surrounding Dean Koocher’s collaboration with the Department of Defense’s coercive interrogation program may jeopardize the search committee’s ability to attract the best candidates for the LAS deanship.

“Dean Koocher’s presence on the search committee for LAS thus represents a conflict in our values, and creates a perception of the University that is diametrically opposed to how we want the College and the University represented,” it continued. “Therefore, we request that Dean Koocher be removed from this committee and a more suitable replacement appointed.”

A day later, it was announced that Koocher had stepped aside and was replaced on the search committee by College of Communication Dean Salma Ghanem.

“Given the controversy surrounding the Hoffman report, many faculty just didn’t see Dean Koocher as the best person to represent DePaul in the search for a new LAS Dean,” said professor and LASAC member Scott Hibbard. “Hence, there was broad support for the letter.”

University leaders seemed satisfied with how the process ended, however.

“DePaul is gaining an innovative leader with extensive experience in university administration and teaching,” said Provost Marten denBoer in a university press release. “His passion for design combined with his breadth of knowledge of and appreciation for the liberal arts will strengthen our mission of academic excellence and service.”

Vásquez de Velasco earned his doctorate in architecture from Delft University of Technology and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Toronto. He has a bachelor’s degree in architecture and urban planning from Ricardo Palma University.

DePaul’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences currently enrolls 2,441 undergraduate students majoring in 28 degree programs and 811 graduate students in 19 degree programs.