President Julie Sullivan shared the following in an email to the St. Thomas community.
It is with great excitement that I announce the successful conclusion of our search for our new executive vice president and provost. Dr. Eddy Rojas, current dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Dayton, has enthusiastically accepted my invitation to join the University of St. Thomas, effective August 1, 2021.
In his current position, Dr. Rojas oversees undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. During his tenure as dean, the School of Engineering achieved a 90% retention rate of freshman to sophomore year, a graduation rate of 70% and a placement rate of 97%. The school also ensured that all students could imagine themselves in the front of the classroom by hiring two-thirds of new faculty from historically underrepresented groups, including women and people of color. He further championed gender equity in the School of Engineering by appointing the first female associate dean in more than 20 years, as well as the first female department chair and the first female endowed chair in the 100+ years of the school. Dr. Rojas gladly acknowledges that his impact in this area is rooted in his Catholic perspective, as he believes Catholic universities must remain firmly committed to the foundational concept of social justice and must translate these teachings into the formation of a just society.
A native of Costa Rica and a first-generation college student, Dr. Rojas has a multi-disciplinary background in engineering, economics, education and psychology. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in civil engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder and a civil engineering undergraduate degree from the University of Costa Rica. A lifelong learner, he also has an M.A. in economics from the University of Colorado Boulder, an M.Ed. in higher education from Penn State and an M.P.S. in the psychology of leadership also from Penn State. For more on his background, please find his curriculum vitae here.
I hope many of you had the opportunity to interact with Dr. Rojas during his interview process. His presentation to our community detailed his thoughts on envisioning St. Thomas as a top 10 Catholic institution, as well as his answers to many important questions posed by our faculty, students and staff. In his own words, Dr. Rojas explains what drives him and why he is excited to join St. Thomas:
“Academic leadership is my calling, but the underlying impetus for all my achievements is the depth of my Catholic faith. Whether inspiring me to become a first-generation college student, directing my personal service activities or shaping the relationship I have nurtured, my faith ties me to the community and drives me to transform the world. Social justice, equity, advocacy, and activism are no mere buzzwords in my vocabulary. These concepts are the cornerstones of my approach to leadership and manifest in every effort and relationship I am blessed to undertake.
I’m also committed to a liberal arts education and educating ethical leaders. St. Thomas is already a high-quality institution with a wonderful array of academic programs, great facilities, and multiple locations but what really attracted me to St. Thomas is that you aspire to be even greater. I can’t wait to be part of that journey.”
St. Thomas’ national search for our next EVP and provost netted a strong pool of candidates, and I would like to thank our search committee, chaired by Dr. Kathlene Campbell, for their successful efforts. The search committee comprised the faculty, staff and students listed below:
- Kathlene Campbell (Chair) – Dean, School of Education
- Al Cotrone – Vice President for Enrollment Management
- Mark DelCogliano – Faculty, College of Arts and Sciences
- Phil Galligan – Graduate Student
- Kevin Henderson – Faculty, Opus College of Business
- Karen Julian – Associate Vice President of Enterprise Data and Services, University Registrar and Chief Data Officer
- Jessica Lackner – Murray Hall Director, Residence Life and Graduate Student
- Terry Langan – Faculty, College of Arts and Sciences
- Amy McDonough – Chief of Staff, Office of the President
- Amy Muse – Faculty, College of Arts and Sciences
- Katherina Pattit – Faculty, Opus College of Business
- Tonia Jones Peterson – Director, Retention and Student Success
- Manjeet Rege – Faculty, School of Engineering Graduate Programs in Software, and Director, Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence
- Jason Sawin – Faculty, College of Arts and Sciences
- Michael Sullivan – President, Undergraduate Student Government
- Susan Supina – Adjunct Faculty, Opus College of Business
- AnnMarie Thomas – Faculty, School of Engineering
- Erik Thurman – Vice President for University Advancement
- Jennifer Trost – Faculty, Dougherty Family College
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Rojas and his wife, Denise, to the University of St. Thomas. As an energetic and optimistic person who thrives on challenges, I am confident that Dr. Rojas brings the right combination of passion for our Catholic mission, transformational mindset and collaborative, servant leadership style that will serve our community well in the years ahead.