Interim Braniff dean made permanent

Dr. Dougherty, permanent dean of the Braniff Graduate School, cheekily photobombed by one Dr. Kevin Kambo. Photo courtesy of Dr. Dougherty.

Dougherty becomes first graduate of the Braniff Graduate School to be appointed its dean

Dr. Richard Dougherty has been appointed permanent dean of the Braniff Graduate School at the University of Dallas after serving as interim dean since Jan. 2023. He is the first Braniff graduate to serve as dean of the graduate school, where he earned his M.A. in 1989 and Ph.D. in 1993. The decision comes on the heels of several other dean appointments.

Dr. Matthias Vorwerk, provost, recommended Dougherty as a prime candidate for the vacant position to Dr. Jonathan Sanford, president of the University of Dallas.

“Dr. Dougherty has a long-standing history with the University of Dallas,” said Vorwerk. “He is a graduate [of the school]. He has been a longtime faculty member who is highly esteemed by the faculty at large. He is an established scholar, and he is intimately familiar with the Braniff Graduate School.”

Dr. Joshua Parens, former dean of the Braniff Graduate School, stepped down in Dec. 2022. At the time, several dean positions needed to be filled, including the Gupta College of Business, dean of the Rome campus, and dean of the library, leaving little room to search for a new Braniff dean.

The decision was made to postpone the search, appointing a temporary dean in the interim. Vorwerk recommended Dougherty, and Sanford confirmed Dougherty as the interim dean.

It did not take long for Vorwerk to realize that Dougherty would be perfect to take on the fulltime role of Dean of the Braniff Graduate School.

“At the time, I was looking for someone who might also be a candidate for the permanent position,” said Vorwerk. “Since the feedback on Dr. Dougherty was so positive, I thought he might be someone who would be a long-term fit.”

“He is very critical in the development of our graduate programs, and he collaborated very well with the other deans. Gradually, when it came to the point where I had to decide, I was just not confident that by running a search, we would end up with someone better than [him],” said Vorwerk. “Therefore, I consulted with the president, and he agreed that it would be good for the Braniff Graduate School and for the university at large if Dr. Dougherty were to be appointed.”

Dougherty was offered the position in Fall 2023. While thinking about accepting, he happened to be teaching Augustine’s “City of God,” which had a profound effect on his decision.

“There’s a passage in Augustine where he’s talking about exercising authority,” said Dougherty. “He says you should not seek positions of power, but if you think you have the capacity for doing the work, and it’s requested of you that you do it, you have some responsibility to think seriously about it.”

Due to his longstanding history with the Braniff Graduate School and its graduate program, Dougherty is hopeful that it will continue to thrive.

“I have a strong attachment to [the graduate program] and seeing it flourish. I think it’s a remarkable program that has been well sustained for decades and it deserves a great deal of attention from the university and the external world. People always say the University of Dallas is the best-kept secret,” said Dougherty. “We don’t want to be a secret. We want people to know about us. We want people to know the excellence that you find here in the programs and in the students and that we have a first-rate faculty. It needs to be known. So whatever we can do to promote the profile of the university is a good thing.”

Vorwerk expects Dougherty to be of great support in UD’s efforts to promote classical education. Of importance to Dougherty is the exceptional faculty, both within UD and the Braniff Graduate School.

“The graduate programs that operate under Braniff flourish because of the quality of the faculty that are teaching in the programs,” said Dougherty. “It’s incumbent upon us in Braniff and in the university as a whole to maintain and support the excellence of the faculty. Students come here to the university because of the faculty. We need to notice that and recognize it and celebrate it. Whatever we can do to highlight that and support it is a great thing.”

With several dean positions recently filled, Vorwerk is optimistic about the future.

“The university is looking towards an era of stability as these transitions in the Gupta College of Business, on the Rome campus, in the Library, and now in the Braniff Graduate School have been completed,” said Vorwerk. “Moving into calmer waters, with the new leadership settling into their roles and establishing a way of collaborating with each other constructively and effectively as a team, should help us to advance further the academic excellence of the university.”


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