Faculty, others decry Lahey’s words on Donnelly

By on September 23, 2009

Something seemed askew with President John Lahey’s words on former School of Communications dean David Donnelly, and some members of the Quinnipiac faculty picked it up pretty quickly. Within minutes of releasing Lahey’s characterization of Donnelly’s “accidental” deanship, The Chronicle was alerted via e-mail, Twitter and face-to-face of a national search that took place prior to Donnelly’s promotion to dean.

“David was a somewhat accidental dean in the sense that we didn’t do a search for a dean of the School of Communications and select David,” Lahey told The Chronicle on Sept. 10.

A search did take place for the position, however. According to an article from The Business Times on Feb. 1, 2004, there was a national search that “attracted dozens of candidates.” It was conducted in 2003 and concluded in January of 2004 with Donnelly’s appointment. Several faculty members in the School of Communications confirmed the information.

“After completing the search process, the committee strongly recommended David as its first choice,” former Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathleen McCourt told the Times, a now defunct Connecticut business journal.

The Chronicle contacted Vice President for Public Affairs Lynn Bushnell, providing an opportunity to make a statement on Lahey’s words, and received a brief response.

“Thank you Joe but we decline the invitation,” read Bushnell’s iPhone e-mail.

After seeing Lahey’s words, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Edward Kavanagh reviewed information from the national search in 2003-2004, and sent along data to the President’s office. As of press time, he had not yet received a response.

“Remembrance is subject to opinion,” Kavanagh said of Lahey’s inaccurate comments. “No one’s recollections are perfect.”

Kavanagh noted that the president often sees only the final paperwork of applicants during a search, when there may have been information between the lines.

As for Donnelly’s departure, Kavanagh said it was “not unusual.” Nationwide, the average deanship lasts about five years, according to Kavanagh.

“Dave was a friend,” he said. “I remain a reference of his. But we try to separate personal from professional.”

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