For the third time in three years, a prominent Georgetown administrator will be leaving the university to assume the presidency of another institution.

Loyola University Chicago announced Friday that the Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., special assistant to Georgetown University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., and an associate professor of psychology, will become its next president effective June 15.

Garanzini, 52, follows James A. Donahue and the Rev. Robert B. Lawton, S.J., as administrators who left Georgetown to assume presidencies at other schools. Loyola Marymount University in Westchester, Calif., named Lawton, then dean of the College, to its top post in 1999. Donahue left his post as Georgetown’s dean of students last June to head the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.

“I’ve grown quite fond of [Georgetown]. I’m sorry to be leaving,” Garanzini said. “I think what I’ll remember most is that this the brightest group of students I’ve ever taught.

“Another thing is that a tremendous spirit stands out in the university and that there’s a lot of pride here. There is a very strong faculty very dedicated to the university and Fr. O’Donovan is one of the finest gentlemen I’ve ever worked with.”

Garanzini said he was informed by Georgetown’s presidential search committee last month that he was nominated to succeed O’Donovan, who will step down in June, but “that was as far as the conversations went.”

Garanzini came to Georgetown in 1999 from St. Louis University as a psychology professor specializing in child development, family systems and counseling. Soon after he arrived, Garanzini was named acting chair of the department and led the search process that selected the current chair, Professor Deborah A. Phillips.

O’Donovan also named Garanzini special assistant to the president and asked him to handle a variety of issues at O’Donovan’s discretion. It was in this capacity that Garanzini was asked to spearhead the Alliance for Local Living, created two years ago to ease tensions between students and local residents.

Garanzini also served on the Licensing Implementation Committee, which the university established to monitor the companies that Georgetown allows to sell items carrying its logo.

Along with Provost Dorothy Brown, Garanzini currently co-chairs the steering committee that leads Georgetown’s reaccredidation process by the Middle States Association. He will continue in that capacity as well as finish teaching his General Psychology course through June 15. Garanzini is also a chaplain-in-residence in LXR.

“Mike Garanzini is a great asset to Georgetown and has made a tremendous difference for our university,” O’Donovan said in a statement released Monday. “I have known Mike for 20 years, first as a student and later as an academic leader. He is a valued leader and advisor.

“He has been absolutely expert at all he has turned his hand to, from major academic issues to student life issues and community relations. I am grateful for his dedicated service to Georgetown and am proud to call him a good friend. I wish him the best of luck at Loyola.”

In a letter announcing Garanzini’s appointment, Michael R. Quinlan, chairman of Loyola Chicago’s Board of Trustees, cited Garanzini’s broad range of administrative experiences as a quality the university was looking for in its next president.

“In addition to recognizing his outstanding academic and administrative credentials, the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee were impressed with Fr. Garanzini’s strengths in consensus building, communication and problem solving, qualities that will enable him to move easily among groups both inside and outside the university,” Quinlan wrote.

Garanzini said that cost-cutting in the graduate programs and boosting the number of undergraduate applicants will be among his first priorities as Loyola’s president.

“We have to do some realignment of programs at the graduate level because they’ve become so costly,” Garanzini said. “Maybe even more important is student recruitment, [which has] slipped this past year. Between enrollment and budget issues, I think my hands will be full.”

Garanzini said that while he had been considered for the presidency at other universities before, he took the Loyola position because he felt it was a good fit at the right time.

“It’s a large school with a lot of professional schools, a strong undergraduate program, some strong graduate programs in an exciting city,” Garanzini said. “They’re under some financial constraints, but they seem to be open to change. They weren’t looking for a miracle-worker, but someone who was looking to come in and lead them.

“There have been a couple of other places where I was asked to be the primary candidate [for university president], but I just thought the match wasn’t right or I wasn’t ready. On two occasions I just entered a new position. With [O’Donovan] stepping down, I was able to move on and I was not committed to staying at Georgetown. My provincial asked me to consider other options.”

A native of St. Louis, Garanzini graduated from St. Louis University with a degree in psychology and entered the Society of Jesus in 1971. From 1984 to 1988, Garanzini taught at the University of San Francisco and the Gregorian University in Rome. In 1986, Garanzini received a doctorate in psychology and religion from the University of California’s Graduate Theological Union. In 1986 he then returned to St. Louis University, where he served as an associate professor in psychology and held the positions of assistant academic vice president and academic vice president.

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