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The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

DePaul provost search: Alan Ray touts mission, some concerned about lack of committment to research

Alan Ray speaking to faculty and staff at one of the open sessions last week. Ray has been president of Elmhurst College since 2008. (Megan Deppen / The DePaulia)
Alan Ray speaking to faculty and staff at one of the open sessions last week. Ray has been president of Elmhurst College since 2008. (Megan Deppen / The DePaulia)

The current president of Elmhurst College, located about 20 miles west of Chicago, visited DePaul Wednesday and Thursday last week as the third provost candidate to meet with faculty, staff and students. Alan Ray emphasized his Native American ancestry and his Vincentian education as key differentiators from the other candidates.

Ray, who has served as the president of Elmhurst College since 2008, guided most of his answers to the mission of the university. He explained that in higher education there is a constant balance between the mission and economics.

“You are fortunate here to have a very clear definition of your mission,” Ray said. “Part of the provost job is to be a head cheerleader for academic programs and the balancing of all programs guided by the strategic mission.”

However, Ray’s resignation from Elmhurst College did raise questions in one open campus session.

“My real passion is in building academic programs and providing faculty support,” Ray said. Additionally, a president position consists of lots of external work, and with young children Ray said his “commitment to DePaul would be long term” and that this position would not be a “stepping stone to something else.”

One hot-button issue to many faculty right now is research. When asked about his views on the importance of research, he went back to DePaul’s mission indicating that DePaul is primarily a teaching institution.

“I don’t see (research) as part of the mission, and so I would have some questions about that,” Ray said. However, some faculty are concerned with a lack of support from administration and the Board of Directors and want them to better understand the importance of research and creativity for their teaching.

Another university-wide issue brought up is the levels of contingent faculty at DePaul. Although Ray has no experience as a tenured faculty member, he cited his development and teaching of political science, law and his published articles as equivalent experience to tenure.

Ray has an extensive liberal arts education ranging from his Vincentian undergraduate education at St. Thomas Seminary College, to degrees from Harvard in philosophy and religion to his Law degree at the University of California, Hastings College of Law. Prior to Elmhurst College, he served as the senior vice provost at the University of New Hampshire, Durham and an associate dean for academic affairs at the Harvard Law School.

Along with his studies of Federal Indian Law, he said it is important to prepare for life in an interdisciplinary world and that he’s done so with his “composite of interests in a coherent manner.” With that, Ray said he believes a liberal arts curriculum is essential.

Another important issue to many faculty are their salaries and the lack of raises over the past few years. Ray said that more market research would need to be done first and that raises should be given.

“We need great buildings, but we need to compensate people,” Ray said. “There should be greater transparency around financial work.”

Transparency continued to be a common word from faculty and staff in all of the open campus provost sessions, and Ray addressed those concerns at the end of the first open campus session.

As the new provost, he said he would “provide leadership to the academic side of the house that helps re-inspire faculty, build morale and provide a vision of leadership.”

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  • Y

    You All Dodged a BulletJul 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Ray all but decimated Elmhurst, be glad you won’t have him at DePaul.

    He has some talents but managing people and projects are not among them. I pray he finds something more fitting to the scale of his interests and capabilities.

  • E

    Elmhurst grad now retiredMar 9, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Many impressive things happened while Ray was at Elmhurst (noted speakers, athletic prowess, music, etc.) He even brought lacrosse to EC. But, to look at Ray’s credits, you’d normally be awed, yet despite Harvard et al, he still feels he must play the “I’m an Indian: card and/or “I’ve got small children” in order to get a job. Why? If you’ve ever shook hands with Ray (and I have) let’s just say the image of Mike Ditka is the furthest thng that comes to mind.

  • F

    Former employee of ECFeb 26, 2015 at 10:37 am

    As a former employee of EC, I can tell you that Alan Ray was a “fish out of water”. He didn’t have a clue about the culture when he accepted the position there and I doubt he understands DePaul well enough to relate to faculty there either. There were times when Alan didn’t even look up as faculty walked by him while at Elmhurst. His lack of communication skills is very evident and he is not one to bring in huge amounts of donor money. His legacy at Elmhurst College will be the destruction of a once-thriving liberal arts-based college and making it into a financial disaster. Best advice to DePaul: steer clear!