Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider has announced his plans to step down from his role as the President of DePaul University following pressure from radical left-wing activists in the wake of Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ recent visit to campus.
Holtschneider came under fire in late May for the University’s handling of a lecture given by Yiannopoulos, which was interrupted and shut down by DePaul students. Despite Yiannopoulos being threatened by one of the protesters, DePaul administration, under Holtschneider’s direction, refused to allow security to intervene during the event.
In response to the backlash over the mishandling of the event from students, alumni, and the general public, Holtschneider issued a lukewarm apology but failed to apologize to Yiannopoulos. As a result of the incident, the University’s Facebook page received a barrage of negative reviews and complaints, which dropped the school’s average rating overnight to below two stars out of five.
The apology only caused more problems for Holtschneider, however. The DePaul Black Leadership Coalition, representing black students and faculty members on campus, have put relentless pressure on the President ever since he apologized to the college Republicans, and called for his resignation. After attempting to placate them with a grovelling statement backtracking on his previous apology, Holtschneider has now revealed that he intends to resign.
In his resignation letter, Holtschneider claimed this decision is the best for the University moving forward. “I believe, therefore, it’s best for DePaul if I step aside in the summer of 2017 so that a new leader can assist the institution to name and ambitiously pursue its next set of strategic objectives.”
Holtschneider also claims that this decision was made several months ago, as part of a transition plan for the University.
The entirety of President Holtschnieder’s resignation letter to the faculty can be read below.
My dear colleagues and friends,
Last Christmas, I spent the days before the New Year on retreat, reflecting on all that has been accomplished at DePaul. Many of the goals we set at the outset of my presidency for DePaul’s enrollment, finances, academic quality, new academic programs, facilities, alumni organization, national reputation and, most importantly, its Catholic and Vincentian mission have been achieved. We’ve done this together through two, six-year strategic plans.
My intent had always been to conclude my service with the end of my contract in 2019. I realized, however, that this does not time well with DePaul’s planning cycle. We have work still to accomplish on Vision 2018, yet within a year it will be time to prepare the next set of university goals. Strategic plans are six-year affairs at DePaul, and the campaigns that fund them are often longer in duration.
I believe, therefore, it’s best for DePaul if I step aside in the summer of 2017 so that a new leader can assist the institution to name and ambitiously pursue its next set of strategic objectives. This way, momentum will continue unabated. To do otherwise would put the university in the position of having one president define the next strategic direction for another president to manage or, if we waited until 2019, put the university into a holding pattern until then.
My decision to step aside as president has been underway since my Christmas retreat. In late January, the provincial of my Vincentian congregation gave permission for this transition. I informed DePaul’s board leadership in March, at which time we decided to share this news more broadly at the conclusion of the academic year. The Office of the Secretary and board leadership interviewed and hired a search firm in early May.
Please know I am not leaving for another position. While I will remain open to assignments after 2017, my present plan is to return to DePaul in my tenured faculty position following a year away from the institution to give the new president the breathing room he or she deserves.
The leadership of the board of trustees will write the campus later today to describe the search process and invite the broad involvement that is DePaul’s custom. In the meantime, we have one more year together. I intend to use it aggressively not only to advance the Vision 2018 goals we set together several years ago, but also to work on the new goals emerging from our conversations about race and speech taking place these past weeks.
I know I will look back on my years leading DePaul with overflowing gratitude. This is an extraordinary university by any measure, and that is primarily because of the people who make up this institution. St. Vincent often attributed the developments in his life to God’s providence, and that is the only category that can encompass my experience of having been invited into the DePaul community twelve years ago. As we enter into the “baker’s dozen” year of my presidency, know how proud and grateful I am to work alongside you every day.
God bless you,
Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.