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New senior leadership changes to start JCU’s 2024

John Carroll University
President Alan Miciak announces shifting leadership positions as well as the promotion of roles for 2024.

Universities are constantly changing and evolving around the world with the advent of new technologies and developments and John Carroll is no exception. Examples of this can be seen through the recent creation of the vice president for student experience and campus belonging position, which is currently held by Naomi Sigg. This year, students can expect to see more changes in senior administration with some familiar faces rising through the ranks.

During a faculty meeting in November 2023, JCU President Alan Miciak announced a tentative plan to fill the current Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) position which is currently held by the Interim Provost Bonnie Gunzenhauser. Gunzenhauser, who previously served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at John Carroll since 2020, has held the interim spot since the VPAA role was left vacant at the end of the Spring 2023 semester.

“My proposal… was a streamlined process which would allow the faculty and the broader community to listen to a presentation about [Gunzenhauser’s] vision and direction,” Miciak told The Carroll News. “[This is] followed by a feedback loop, followed by a decision.”

Dr. Earl Spurgin, chair of the Faculty Council, said that Miciak’s proposal was originally given to the council’s executive committee which made a few recommendations. The amended version was later given to the faculty council that approved the proposal unanimously.

“Some people had a few concerns just about the process,” Spurgin told The Carroll News. “None of it was about Dr. Gunzenhauser, but some people were concerned about not doing a national search for the chief academic officer of the university. But I think most people, despite those concerns, were supportive of this expedited approach.”

Later, Miciak discussed the idea for a streamlined appointment process to the faculty at large which was widely accepted despite the new plan differing from the current Guidelines for Selection of an Academic Dean or Chief Academic Officer. The president backs this decision with his recommendation, stating that Gunzenhauser is a strong candidate for the job as shown in her initial hiring as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, Miciak cited worries regarding how the search would disrupt the current progress on campus.

The operation is currently underway with a myriad of steps until a decision is expected to be communicated in February. A national search for the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences is expected to be held pending Gunzenhauser’s promotion process.

Another new development is the promotion of the current Executive Director of Integrated Marketing Communications Mike Scanlan to Vice President for University Relations, effective Jan. 1, 2024. In an email sent to faculty, Miciak said that the university’s “ability to attract more applicants will depend on our ability to be an institution with national reach.”

Scanlan’s promotion to this new position is expected to bolster this area of growth for JCU as he will undertake the “responsibility for community and government relations, the execution of key University events and the management of strategic projects for the institution.”

Scanlan says that one of his priorities is to look at how to “invest in the student experience” via “elevating John Carroll’s marketing.” This looks like reexamining event execution, looking to other departments and divisions to collaborate and finding avenues to “promote John Carroll in the best way possible.”

“For our department now, [it’s] how do we understand John Carroll’s place in the Northeast Ohio community?” Scanlan told The Carroll News. “I think it’s easy to get sort of stuck in the bubble of University Heights or our campus and not recognize how much Northeast Ohio, Cleveland and Akron have to offer… As we think sort of medium to long term about John Carroll, how do we ensure that students 100 years from now, 50 years from now, 20 years from now, benefit from our hard work and strategy right now?”

Some projects on the horizon include a new marketing program called JC4U, a concept rooted in the coming four-year residential experience that is “reflective of all the different areas that student life comes together to create that overall experience.”

To help Scanlan, Sarah Forrer will take on the Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications role. Scanlan says that, without Forrer, none of the work regarding marketing would be possible, calling her the “engine of everything we do.”

“I would say that I’m proud of the enthusiasm we bring to this role,” Forrer said. “I see people responding to that, and I’m appreciative of that. I hope that I communicate that well, especially when we’re in the thick of hard, long work.”

Although the John Carroll administration may be seeing changes, the forward focus that survived through the pandemic has definitely permeated through the years to craft a new vision for the university going forward.

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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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