President Keefe announced Monday night that Joe Cassidy, dean of Student Life, will be leaving the University of Dallas in October. The announcement was made after a university in New York reported on its website that Cassidy had accepted the position of director of the Rensselaer Union at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“We are happy for Joe,” Keefe said. “This is a perfect career opportunity for him.”
Cassidy joined the UD faculty in 2010, serving as the chief student affairs officer and a member of the President’s cabinet.
“I was not at all looking to leave UD,” Cassidy said.
But when approached by Rensselaer repeatedly, Cassidy said he began looking into the program in more detail.
Cassidy said that the Rensselaer Union operates on a unique model that is managed by the students.
According to the Union’s website, “the Rensselaer Union is both a building and a student development program that includes over 175 recognized student organizations.” Some of these organizations include a theater, an ambulance, an electronics club and a student-run radio station. Additionally, the Union has an $8 million operating budget, collected from the students as well as from auxiliary fees, such as the bookstore and food service operations.
“That’s part of what drew my attention,” Cassidy said. “The level of student involvement.”
Cassidy will begin working at the Rensselaer Union on Oct. 24. His last day at UD will be Oct. 13.
“It’s going to be tough to leave here,” Cassidy said. “I can’t imagine having a better group of students and faculty to work with. I’ve loved it here, I really have.”
Cassidy’s decision will require adjustments in the duties of several administrators. Keefe said that on Oct. 1, Denise Phillips will become the interim dean of students. She is the executive director of mission and ministry, and she has 15 years’ experience working with students. In other changes, Dr. John Plotts will assume responsibilities as vice president of student affairs, in addition to his duties as vice president of enrollment management. Plotts had served as the vice president for executive and student affairs at Dallas Baptist University.
Keefe said that the university will provide additional personnel to assist Phillips and Plotts in their other roles at the university.
A search committee for a new dean of Student Life will be put together soon, Keefe confirmed.
“It is highly irregular that a university administrator would leave during the middle of the year,” Keefe said. “So we will search for however long it takes to find a quality candidate. This is the nature of a university.”