By Sean Callahan, News Editor
On Mar. 21, Zachary Flock, Director of Marketing and Communications at SVC, sent a press release email to the SVC community, informing them that Dr. John T. Delaney, Professor of Management and Dean of the Kogod School of Business at American University, has been appointed SVC’s new Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) and Academic Dean.
According to the email, the college enlisted the search firm WittKieffer to lead the search for the new VPAA in the fall of 2021. Delaney was eventually found and appointed by Fr. Paul Taylor, O.S.B., President of Saint Vincent College, with the approval of the Chancellor of the College, Fr. Martin Bartel, O.S.B., Archabbot.
John Smetanka, associate professor of physics, had previously served as VPAA from 2008 until the conclusion of the 2021 spring semester. Fr. Philip M. Kanfush, O.S.B., has since served as Interim VPAA.
Delaney has held tenure at American University since 2016. However, his academic career extends back even further. He served as the Jr. Dean of Business at the University of Pittsburgh from 2006 until 2015. He also held faculty positions at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, University of Iowa and Michigan State University prior to his time with Pittsburgh and American.
Delaney, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree from LeMoyne College and Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Illinois, said that his long and successful academic career and small college beginnings led him to further consider his future.
“I’d like to be in a position where I can give back a bit more than I can at a big university,” Delaney said. “I saw the opportunity at Saint Vincent as a chance for me to do what some of my mentors did for me when I was in college.”
Having spent a large portion of his academic career in Pittsburgh, Delaney has long been familiar with Saint Vincent College. He reported that he loves the school’s atmosphere and finds its values and goals align with his own.
Delaney views his journey to and from each university and job position as a chance to leverage, refine and build up his skills.
“It’s given me the opportunity to see there’s no perfect approach for every university,” Delaeny said. “It’s caused me to learn about different types of technology and management, and to meet and learn from different people, including students.”
Delaney is hoping to use various administrative skills he has accumulated to help Saint Vincent students, faculty and staff ultimately succeed. But he also emphasized that he looks forward to learning from this position, too.
“I will learn from the Benedictines, the students, the faculty and staff. It’s not all about me teaching people or being the leader. It’s about me understanding the environment and being part of it,” Delaney said.
According to the SVC press release, Delaney is a “passionate advocate for experiential learning.” According to Delaney, experiential learning is the idea that people learn more from practicing or a hands-on approach as opposed to a solely lecture-based approach; this is a process that allows individual learners to practice themes discussed in the classroom in a real-world situation.
Delaney reported that he believes experiential learning provides students with the chance to experience their chosen fields of study while in school, because they get to practice and build skills outside the classroom. Furthermore, experiential learning may also open up options for students to advance further if they enjoy their skills.
“It gives you an opportunity to make mistakes in a safe environment. We often learn from our mistakes and failures more than we do from success,” Delaney said. “It’s easy to say you’re great when you’re successful. But the reality is that we always experience challenges.”
In the near future, Delaney hopes to advocate for and help implement experiential learning on campus.
“It’s an effort to transition students from sitting in a class, where it’s possible to be passive—that is, to not speak and to listen to other students—to being in a position where not only do you have to do something, but it will be fun to do it,” Delaney said.
Delaney reported that his favorite part about his academic career has been seeing people around him succeed, such as a professor getting tenure or having a research journal published. He also enjoys staying in touch with students over the years; one of the references Delaney cited in applying for SVC’s VPAA position was a student he had taught over 20 years ago.
“I enjoy creating an environment where people can be successful and seeing the results of that. To me that’s the best part of life,” Delaney said. “If I can help other people succeed, then I feel I am making a difference.”
Delaney will officially begin as VPAA of Saint Vincent College on Jul. 1.