On Friday, Oct. 11, the Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J. announced via a University-wide email to the John Carroll University community that John T. Day, provost and academic vice president, is stepping down from that position. However, this is not goodbye for Day, who will take a year of leave and then return to JCU as a full-time tenured professor in the English department. Day will maintain his current position until the end of the spring 2014 semester.
Day’s educational pursuits are rooted in the Jesuit tradition. He attended a Jesuit university, College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., as an undergraduate. He went on to attend Harvard University, where he received a doctorate in English and American literature. After getting his Ph.D., he accepted a tenure track position at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., where he eventually became an associate dean. After 23 years there, he took a post at Roanoke College in Salem, Va., as dean and academic vice president. Six years later, in 2008, he arrived at JCU and became the academic vice president, and then became provost in 2011.
Day said what drew him to JCU was “the opportunity to return to a Jesuit and Catholic institution, like Holy Cross where I had done my undergraduate work.” As academic vice president, Day has been responsible for academic programs and supervising the faculty and curriculum. He works closely with Karen Schuele, dean of the Boler School of Business, and Jean Colleran, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“Dr. Day worked very effectively with the faculty because he listens attentively, is fair in his judgments and cares deeply about the university community,” Colleran said. “The English department is fortunate in having such a learned and dedicated faculty member join its staff, but I will miss having him as my boss.”
Day identified the development of the new core curriculum as his proudest accomplishment as provost and academic vice president. However, the job posed some challenges to Day, as well.
“The most challenging thing has been all of the time that I’ve been here at John Carroll, we’ve been under some financial strain,” he said. “So having to cut back and reallocate resources within the academic division has been the biggest administrative challenge.”
Day said he imagines he will miss the perspective on the whole campus that the position gave him.
“It gives you the opportunity to do things and to connect with people across campus that I would say the average faculty member just doesn’t have occasion to do,” he said.
Despite this, the decision to step down came fairly easily to him, as a natural progression into another phase of his life. He hopes to retire by 2018.
Drawing on his English literature background, Day quoted 17th-century British poet Andrew Marvell, who wrote about “time’s winged chariot,” referring to the notion that “time flies.”
“My wife and I want an identifiable additional stage of our life together,” Day said. “Father Niehoff and I have talked about this for a while, and we determined that this would be a good time for me to make that transition.”
During his year of leave, Day plans to refresh and refine his teaching methods. He said he is looking forward to getting back into the profession that brought him into higher education in the first place.
“My current position is somewhat removed from the day-to-day life of students, so I really enjoy more regular contact with students,” he said.
One of Day’s colleagues, James Krukones, associate academic vice president and associate professor of history, said that Day’s recent administrative experience will prove to be useful to the English department.
“It’s been gratifying working with John Day,” Krukones said. “He takes a very measured and sensible approach to things.”
The process for hiring a new provost and academic vice president is already underway. Anthony Roy Day, chair of the Faculty Council and professor in the physics department, said that his goal is to have the elected faculty search committee in place by the end of November. The committee will set up the job description and advertise the position throughout December and January, and the main search process will take place throughout the remainder of the spring 2014 semester.