By Richard Husseini, BS ’88, Chair of the Board of Trustees
Issued Jan. 11, 2021
Shortly after assuming the presidency of the University of Dallas, President Thomas S. Hibbs asked his leadership team, in collaboration with the board, to develop a new strategic plan. Hibbs desired a strategic plan that reaffirms and enables UD’s vision — academic excellence embodied in a rigorous Catholic education dedicated to a lifelong pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue. He also sought to ensure that through its rigorous and intimate approach to educating the whole person, the University of Dallas would continue to cultivate in current, past, future and lifelong students those habits of heart, mind and soul that enable them to live flourishing professional and personal lives in service to their families, country and faith.
The strategic planning process has culminated with the board’s adoption of a new strategic plan, which emphatically reaffirms UD’s mission while being grounded on four themes to enable such mission: (1) academic excellence in service to an education that always matters; (2) building UD’s reputation and recognition; (3) character formation in service to a life well lived; and (4) deepening UD’s commitment to serving Church and country through a variety of programs. These themes require continuing philanthropic support, brand enhancement and programs that prepare our graduates for positions of leadership in fields of vital professional, religious, cultural and civic importance.
President Hibbs informed the board of his desire to step down as president on June 30, 2021, while at the same time expressing a desire to continue with many of the activities and programs that he initiated as president. The motive for this transition is his desire to strengthen the University of Dallas for the future. The board, in recognition of his service and achievements, will bestow upon him the title of president emeritus effective July 1, 2021. Hibbs plans to continue to support UD’s mission in different ways, including developing plans for a new center that will strengthen UD’s Catholic character on campus and bring UD’s voice into the public discussion of culturally significant issues. Hibbs established the Presidential Conversations series over the past year, instituted collaborations with national and local organizations, and regularly contributed to The Dallas Morning News, and he looks forward to continuing to advance these initiatives.
Following Hibbs’ decision, the Board of Trustees voted to appoint Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D., the current provost of the University of Dallas, as the university’s 10th president effective July 1, 2021.
Provost Sanford has been an integral part of President Hibbs’ stellar team and has been intimately involved in the development of the new strategic plan. His vast expertise in academic planning and operations will be a tremendous asset as we seek to take the next step with implementing the strategic plan while reinforcing our mission and vision over the next several years. Sanford took the lead in advancing educational excellence at the University of Dallas; developed new means to communicate that excellence to external audiences; created new partnerships and expanded the university’s reach and reputation; and exercised steadfast and stalwart leadership.
John Plotts, Ed.D., will continue in his role as executive vice president of the university. Plotts said, “I have been incredibly blessed to serve with both President Hibbs and incoming President Sanford. I look forward to continuing to work with both of them in the years ahead.”
Chancellor of the University of Dallas Most Reverend Edward J. Burns, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, said, “I have high admiration and appreciation for all three members of the UD leadership team — incoming President Sanford, President Hibbs and former Interim President Plotts. They know the challenges and are determined to bring forth a first-rate Catholic university. They are scholars and administrators who have a firm grasp of higher education in the Catholic tradition. I am grateful for their faith, vision, commitment and dedication. I congratulate incoming President Sanford and, as the chancellor of the University, I am confident that this presidential transition will set the University of Dallas on course for great things to come in the years ahead.”