As she notes in an interview today with the Journal, when Donna Carroll was named president of Rosary College in 1993 she was one of the youngest college presidents in the nation. When she retires in 2021 she will be among the longest serving university leaders in America.
It has been an outstanding run for a woman who has become the face of this essential River Forest institution. The first layperson to lead the school, Carroll found the balance to embrace and respect the school’s Dominican heritage with a determined mission to bring change and growth.
Her all-in presence at the school gave her the credibility and affection to lead in new ways while affirming the foundational role of the Catholic sisters who had built it and the Catholic faith on which it was built.
Carroll will be remembered — and she’s still president for 10 more months she will remind you — for gently jolting the school from Rosary College into Dominican University, a change much bigger than new signage. It reflected an academic and institutional ambition that she imagined and planned for.
She has fostered a wildly more diverse student body and has crafted a social justice platform that infuses Dominican with a progressive Catholic message, which is profound and expansive.
Carroll has also proven an able fundraiser, a builder of both campuses and consensus for continuing change. She will leave Dominican at the end of this current COVID-centric school year for what she describes as an unplanned retirement. It will be the first thing she hasn’t planned out thoroughly in some long time.
Donna Carroll will leave Dominican in strong shape from the balance sheet to the mission statement. She has been a consequential leader.