Dougherty to become interim dean of Braniff Graduate School; Parens steps down


Dr. Joshua Parens is stepping down from the position of dean of the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts after serving in the role for almost nine and a half years. He will officially step down on Dec. 31,  and go back to full time teaching in the philosophy department. He plans on teaching for at least another ten years.

Parens is very grateful to all his co-workers and everyone he has worked with these past nine years. 

“All of these people are superb,” said Parens, “and without them none of this would work. I’ve also really loved working with President Sanford, and before that Provost Sanford, and before that Constantin Dean Sanford.”

Parens also expressed gratitude towards the Braniff Graduate Student Association. He said,  “When you get down to it, the lionshare of my work is working with students and having that organization has been really the key to making Braniff work well.”

Parens described working with the Braniff Graduate Student Association as both fruitful and enjoyable. 

“Among the most rewarding things [of this job] has been working with the Braniff Graduate Student Association,” said Parens. “The Braniff Graduate Student Association levies a little tax on themselves — $25 per student. That actually enables them to do things like help support travel to conferences. So I’ve worked as their budget supervisor and they’ve really become incredible and they’re just a wonderful group to work with.”

When asked where he thinks the University of Dallas is headed, Parens responded: “I’m very optimistic about where the university is headed. I’m very excited about President Sanford’s leadership [and] I’m encouraged by our new provost.”

With Parens returning to teaching, Dr. Richard Dougherty, professor of politics, will become the interim dean of Braniff Graduate School, officially taking up the position on Jan. 1, 2023 and serving in that role for the next three semesters.

Describing his role, Dougherty said: “You have all the responsibilities of a dean. Historically, when you have interims as dean, you’re mostly trying to keep things afloat and make sure things are running smoothly. It’s not anticipated that you engage in introducing any major changes into programs. You would leave that for the person filling the position.”

Parens seemed excited for Dougherty to take the position of interim dean as he has been heavily involved in the program and knows it very well. 

“I really look forward to Dr. Dougherty taking over. He has been probably the most constant presence in the IPS because he has been graduate director of politics for most of the time I’ve been dean. He knows the Ph.D. program especially well. I have special interest and care for the Ph.D. program so I’m really excited that he will be interim. He will make it quite seamless,” he said. 

Part of the reason for having Dougherty serve as interim dean for this longer period is because a search is currently underway for a new dean of the Gupta College of Business. This search will most likely take the rest of the academic year, so the search for a dean for Braniff will start in fall 2023.

“All of our deans report to the provost,” said Dougherty, “so now that we have a full time regular provost in place, then it makes sense to do the search for the deans who serve under the direction of the provost, rather than appoint new deans and then hire a provost.”

Looking to the future, Dougherty does not expect there to be any particular challenges, but is prepared for those that cannot be expected. 

“There are always circumstances that come up that you have to address. Sometimes they are things which you can foresee and sometimes they are things which you can’t foresee. Just think of what we’ve been dealing with the past few years with COVID — no one could have foreseen that. I don’t expect there to be any crises but there are probably always going to be some and you have to be prepared to deal with them as best you can,” he said.  

As another member in a line of academics who have led the Braniff graduate program, Dougherty expressed great appreciation for the work of those that came before him.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge the tremendous job that Dr. Parens has done in leading the graduate school for the last nine years,” said Dougherty. “It’s a demanding position. You deal with a number of different constituents and constituencies. Dr. Parens has been tremendous, as was his predecessor, Dr. Sweet. We’ve had excellent steady leadership in that position for a couple of decades. And that’s really been a tremendous boon to the university.”


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