New community reactions to La Salle’s new president — Editorial


Now that the dust has settled on the announcement, what is the general perception of Dr. Daniel J. Allen?

The Editorial Board

Header Image: La Salle University

Last Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, the La Salle community received an announcement that the Board of Trustees, with cooperation from the Presidential Search Committee (PSC), had chosen La Salle’s 30th president to be Dr. Daniel J. Allen of DePaul University. For full details on Allen’s announcement and career, please see last week’s editorial and news sections.

As last week’s issue of the Collegian was coming together, the announcement was still fresh, and the Editorial Board had just come off of a short discussion with Allen regarding his intentions at La Salle and reactions to the announcement, but now that a week has passed, many more students, faculty and members of the university community have gotten a chance to share their reactions and thoughts on the subject.


Before we share some official statements and comments from students on social media and La Salle’s forums, allow a member of the Editorial Board to share some anecdotes that are somewhat telling of how the current La Salle student body has reacted to the announcement:

“I was seated in a classroom filled with honors seniors, and when the topic of President-elect Allen came up, I was shocked that more than a handful of students responded with ‘Who?’ or ‘We have a new president?’ It seems like some of the students in the room were out of the loop with the announcement, which shocked me as someone who had spent the whole last week reporting on it and discussing it with fellow students. Beyond this, though, many students who were aware of the announcement were either indifferent or were unaware of many details of Allen’s career and reasons for being chosen. To be honest, a majority of people in the room didn’t even know his name. Of the few who were dialed in, the general consensus was that we were all cautiously optimistic about Allen’s abilities, and hope to see some improvements over former President Dr. Colleen Hanycz’s previous plans and initiatives. I wish this was the consensus with everyone on campus, but even at lunch in the Union or in classes with people I don’t know that well, many, many students appear to be unaware that we have a new president incoming, or are only familiar with the fact that we do, but none of the details about him.” – Jakob Eiseman, Editor-in-Chief for the Editorial Board.

We have seen some mixed reactions online, with some positive comments about Allen being publicized by the university, including one from a student member of the PSC, senior Aaron Srinivasan, who said, “I envision that Dr. Allen will work closely with the student body, amplifying our voices. He is someone who will inspire enthusiasm from students and faculty alike with a collaborative and bold vision for the future of La Salle that sticks to its historic roots.”

Senior Isabelle Pope, president of La Salle’s Student Government Association, said, “his overall values and vision align with what La Salle is and is striving to be. Though I will be graduating in May, I am looking forward to seeing positive changes that Dr. Allen brings to our community.” 

The Collegian’s News Editor Kylie McGovern said “I think that Dr. Allen is a good fit for La Salle and I am looking forward to him hopefully bettering the school.”

Generally, student opinion of Allen seems to us to be somewhere between indifferent and very high. While many students might not be closely following the situation, even those that are only tangentially aware of Allen seem to be hopeful. Perhaps this is a product of the dramatic periods of change the student body had to go to as Hanycz left and under Interim President Tim O’Shaughnessy, or perhaps students are that trusting of the Board of Trustees. We hope to see opinion on Allen rise as time goes on, and will continue to see student opinion on him fluctuate, particularly as he comes to La Salle in April 2022.

Faculty and Staff

Br. Robert Schaefer, FSC, said, “Dr. Allen’s understanding of our Lasallian identity was forged during his time at Lewis University, and his years at the Vincentian-inspired DePaul University has deepened his passion for the transformative power of Catholic higher education. I look forward to working with Dr. Allen to ensure a vibrant future for La Salle University.” Schaefer is not only a lifelong Lasallian, having studied at La Salle College High School and La Salle University, but serving as the principal of Pittsburgh Central Catholic and currently serving in the Christian Brothers’ elected position of Provincial or Brother Visitor for DENA. Schaefer’s comments about Allen’s commitment to mission and optimism for Allen’s role is reassuring, as this is someone who has committed their life to the Lasallian mission and who can be trusted on the subject.

“I was impressed by his ability to thoughtfully and analytically evaluate potential strategies and opportunities with a keen business acumen, while maintaining his prioritized focus on students,” said TiRease Holmes, director of La Salle Residence Life. “His shared insight spoke to the current state of La Salle and the need to lead with bold ambition to tackle the critical work of taking this great institution’s trajectory toward perpetual growth. I look forward to his leadership,” continued Holmes. This expresses the same focus that we had previously mentioned in our previous two editorial columns: that La Salle needs money, badly, but that does not mean we need a president who is focused only on creating revenue plans but cares little for their students and little for the mission of the school. Holmes’ comments, coming from someone who is highly dialed into student affairs, are reason for us to believe that Allen might be the person we were describing.

One quote that was specifically unique and interesting is from Vice Chair AmyLynn Flood of La Salle University’s Board of Trustees. Flood has this to say on Allen’s selection: “In his service to DePaul’s student body, which is strikingly similar to ours, as well as his familiarity with the Lasallian mission and demonstrated commitment to cultivating principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, we concluded that Dr. Allen was an ideal candidate to lead La Salle University into its important next chapter.” Flood, although a partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the world’s largest accounting firms, did not make a single mention of money, fundraising or growth when she described Allen’s selection. She specifically highlighted that Allen was chosen because his work at DePaul demonstrated the Lasallian mission, and then lists specific fields which it did, including diversity, justice and equity, which are three key points that we have been looking for in a new president and that are vitally important to his success as a Lasallian leader.

Hopefully, as Allen makes visits to the university in the ramp-up to his coming to office in April, and as the university continues to circulate messaging regarding Allen’s goals and plans, students will gain a deeper understanding and general appreciation for the fact that a new president is coming and that means big changes will likely follow. Faculty have been unexpectedly positive about the announcement, but it doesn’t take a super sleuth to find members of the staff that were decidedly against the Hanycz agenda and want to see changes from it. Public criticism toward Allen from professors and staff, while definitely there, is not at a mass degree, which shows that Allen may share a lot of the La Salle community’s positive mindshare. That will make his transition to power much easier.

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