MU picks Holz as new Arts & Sciences dean

Richard Holz
Richard Holz

After five years of interim deans, Marquette’s largest college will finally have a permanent leader. Richard Holz, associate dean for resources and planning and professor of chemistry at Loyola University Chicago, has been selected as the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Holz, 50, will begin his duties as dean July 1. University President the Rev. Scott Pilarz announced Holz as dean in an email to the Marquette community Tuesday afternoon.

“Dr. Holz is an accomplished and dynamic leader who is poised to lead Marquette University’s largest college,” Pilarz said. “The liberal arts and sciences are at the heart of what Catholic, Jesuit education has always been about, and we are excited to have found a leader who will ensure our students experience a transformative education in an increasingly complex world.”

The announcement comes after an eight-month search. This was the third time since 2007 the university has attempted a dean search for the college.

Holz said he is excited to begin his duties as dean.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Marquette in my new role as dean of the Klingler College of Arts & Sciences,” Holz said in an email. “As I come from a Catholic, Jesuit institution and have grown up in the Midwest, my new role will be a perfect fit.”

During a presentation on campus Jan. 31, Holz emphasized five themes he said will guide his vision for the college: Ignatian pedagogy, scholarly activity, global curriculum, environmental sustainability and diversity.

Holz said he looks forward to learning from others how to “build out” these fives themes as the university maps out its new strategic plan.

“When I start this summer, my first priority will be to spend time with our faculty and really get to know the people within the College of Arts & Sciences,” Holz said. “I also look forward to working with my colleagues across the campus to learn about interdisciplinary opportunities.”

Phillip Naylor, professor of history and chair of the dean search committee, said Holz’s administrative experience, scholarly activity and clear five-theme vision all lent to his value as a candidate.

“He’s an accomplished scientist who also has sensibilities toward the humanities that we thought were important,” Naylor said. “He’s had administrative experience… He’s implemented a new core (of common studies) at Loyola.”

Provost John Pauly cited similar reasons that led to Holz’s selection as dean.

“Dr. Holz has had strong and successful administrative experience at a similar Jesuit university,” Pauly said in an email Wednesday. “He is himself an accomplished scholar, which matters a great deal in the leadership of the College of Arts & Sciences. People who met him during the interviews were impressed with his warmth and genuineness and with his specific, practical ideas about meeting the challenges of a contemporary liberal arts college.”

Of the four dean candidates, Holz was the only one to have a current position in a dean’s office. As the associate dean of Loyola University Chicago’s College of Arts & Sciences, Holz oversees programs that serve 6,000 undergraduates, 395 full-time faculty and 50 full-time staff. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Bemidji State University, his master’s degree at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and his doctorate in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University. As a professor of chemistry, Holz has also contributed to more than 90 research articles and granted two patents.

Andrew Karls, a graduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences, met all four candidates when they visited campus in January. Holz was his top choice and was, in his opinion, the most qualified candidate.

Karls said the new dean selection marks a turning point for the college after the failed dean search in 2010, when Marquette was the subject of nationwide attention after it rescinded its job offer to Jodi O’Brien, an openly gay professor from the University of Seattle.

“There is also a sense of relief,” Karls said. “Finally we can begin to move forward as a college from the events of three years ago, and I know Dr. Holz has a vision that he is dedicated to creating here.”