After nearly three decades, President Donna M. Carroll to retire in 2021
October 5, 2020

Dear Dominican Alumnae/i and Friends: 

Last Thursday I formally notified the Board of Trustees of my intent to retire as President of Dominican University, effective June 2021. This has been an emotional decision for me, complicated by the recession and COVID-19; but, it is time - or at least it will be next spring, once we accomplish a few more things. 

Serving as President of Dominican University for the last 26 years has been the privilege of my lifetime, literally - more challenging, humbling and deeply satisfying than I could have ever imagined. Our relationship-centered, justice-driven mission has shaped and inspired me every day, transforming a career into a vocation. And, I am so very, very grateful for your company and support along the way. 

Why did I stay so long? And why am I choosing to retire now? It is hard not to fall in love with Dominican University - to find yourself completely invested in her story and her promise. Over almost three decades, four plans, three campaigns, two campuses, several buildings and many, many programs, I have had the opportunity to help reimagine and position the university for a strong, purposeful future, one that has a lasting impact on students' lives. 

Recently, I was standing in our stunning new library terrace lounge and I realized that this project closes the loop - that 25 years ago, as a new President, I had planned for such an addition, but could not afford it, and now, here it is, welcoming a freshman class, almost four times larger than the class that I greeted in 1994. When U.S. News and World Report ranked Dominican among the top 10 Midwest Regional universities, my heart ached with pride, but also, with the understanding that I was in the homestretch of my presidency. 

Too often a President is credited with the accumulated success of an institution. Please know that I know the truth - that it has taken the talent, hard work and sacrifice of many individuals, over many years, to build the Dominican of today. How blessed I am to be a part of such a dedicated community. And, we all stand on the shoulders of courageous, faith-filled Dominican women, whose trust, confidence and unconditional affection have been the greatest gifts of my presidency. 

It is the current strengths, strong enrollment and financial progress of the university, even in the midst of COVID-19, that give me the window to retire. I have enormous confidence in Dominican's senior administrative team. The Faculty Senate has evolved into a capable and invested governing body. And, the leadership potential of our new generation of staff is substantial, as is your support as stakeholders and benefactors. 

Soon, the Chairman of the Board will communicate with the campus community about the presidential search process and the appointment of a search committee. In the meantime, and through this academic year, we will take special care of each other and our students, as we continue to vigorously pursue the university's academic, strategic and philanthropic goals. 

For every president there is a chapter. In hindsight, mine was defined early and dramatically in 1997 by our name change from Rosary College to Dominican University. That same year Sr. Cyrille Gill celebrated her 100th birthday and captured both moments with the recitation of a C.P. Cavafy poem that I unknowingly saved for this moment. It begins...

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of discovery.

And, so has been my leadership journey. It is and will ever be my enormous privilege to be the President of Dominican University.


Donna M. Carroll
Dominican University