Editor’s Note: This story ran in the Sept. 4, 1992 issue of The Hoya. We are reprinting it to provide background and context to the appointment of Senior Vice President John J. “Jack” DeGioia as university president.

In an effort to streamline its operations and curb a growing financial burden, the university has announced a series of sweeping upper-level changes in its administration which will take effect Tuesday, according to a letter released today by Patrick A. Heelan, S.J., executive vice president for the main campus.

The administrative moves will affect several university departments. The main change comes in the creation of a new vice-presidential position – that of associate vice president and chief administrative officer of the main campus. John J. DeGioia, who was dean of student affairs, has been tapped by university officials to fill this position, according to Heelan’s letter.

DeGioia will be replaced temporarily by Associate Dean of Student Affairs Renee DeVigne until a future committee selects a permanent replacement.

Heelan said in his letter that DeGioia possessed “unparalleled knowledge of this institution [and a] track record of administrative competence … uniformly praised around the University.”

In a telephone interview last night, DeGioia said he was pleased by his promotion.

“I have met with Fr. Heelan several times since his arrival [in July] and I have learned a good deal about his management style, and I hope I will be able to contribute.

“My first priority at the request of Fr. Heelan is to work with (Dean of Financial Aid] Patricia McWade in addressing the current concerns we have with financial aid,” DeGioia said.

DeGioia will now oversee the financial aid and admissions offices, as well as several other departments previously under Student Affairs: athletics, public safety and main campus facilities maintenance.

DeGioia said he will serve as Heelan’s chief administrative officer and will be providing “coordination and support for long-term strategic planning of main campus administrative operations.”

According to DeGioia, he had discussed his move from dean to associate vice president with Heelan during the past two weeks.

In addition to moving DeGioia from Student Affairs, Heelan said in his letter that the office would be “reorganized along more traditional lines.”

University spokesperson Gary Krull said he did not know what kind of reorganization Heelan had in mind and what form it would take.

DeGioia said the Office of Student Affairs would now be “free to focus on day-to-day affairs,” instead of other concerns previously under that office’s direction.

DeGioia said most “traditional” student affairs offices were not responsible for athletics or public safety, as Georgetown’s was until now.

In conjunction with these upper-level shifts, another senior Georgetown administrator also is changing his position. Melvin H. Bell, who suffered a heart attack on Nov. 2 and later underwent bypass surgery, will be stepping down as chief financial officer (CFO) of the main campus.

Bell, who has worked at Georgetown for over 20 years, will remain as a consultant “to advise [the university] in all resource matters, “according to Heelan’s letter.

DeGioia said Bell will remain CFO until a permanent replacement can be found by a search committee. He added that this committee plus others would restructuring.

Heelan said in his letter that Bell’s health was a “great concern” to the administration and also praised Bell as an “irreplaceable repository of Georgetown’s history in so many crucial areas, and on his wisdom the Main Campus has relied for so many years.”

Krull said the issue of Bell’s health posed a problem for Heelan and the administration, and Heelan met with Bell to talk about it. “In their discussions, health was an issue,” he said. “They wanted to keep him involved and to keep him from retiring.”

The departments of financial aid and admissions had been under the direction of Marie-Helene Gibney, associate vice president for main campus academic affairs. But after the reorganization, Gibney now will be assigned to “working with and implementing the policies of the newly created University-wide Task Force on Non-Teaching Academics (NTAs),” Heelan said in his letter.

NTAs include university personnel like those who work in the library or in the Office of Student Affairs, according to DeGioia.

Heelan said he was “confident” in Gibney’s ability to fulfill this new role, which will require “great discretion and familiarity” with new federal legislation dealing with the unemployment of people with disabilities and of women.

According to Krull, the issue of NTAs at Georgetown is a “big issue” whose development is “very important.” Krull added that Gibney and the task force would be “hard pressed to get a handle on this issue in a compressed amount of time.”

DeGioia also stressed the importance of the NTA issue. “With the growth of the campus over the last 15 years, the number of NTAs has increased significantly, and it is extremely important that we develop a coordinated policy for our NTAs.”

Heelan’s directive comes after he has spent only two months on the job. While the moves are abrupt, some have said they felt Heelan realized the impact of his moves.

Tyier Tysdal (SBA ’93), president of GUSA, said Heelan saw the long-term need of Georgetown to change.

“There have been immediate problems with financial aid,” Tysdal said. “[These are] some wide-ranging changes, but I think they are necessary.”

“Dean DeGioia is the senior person,” Tysdal said. “In the whole university, I think he’s the right man for the job.”

“This is a major move,” said one university official. “I don’t think we know [Heelan] well enough to know his style [and judge this move].” Krull said Heelan obviously “felt a need to restructure, the need for a more manageable style [of administration]. This is a much bigger college now … he needs senior people around him.”

In his letter, Heelan said many “shadows are cast that pose a challenge to Georgetown’s long-term well-being … among these are the completion of our academic programs … and the acquisition of a new academic building and library space.”

Heelan also listed several other problems that he considered important, such as deferred maintenance for main campus buildings.

Heelan also reaffirmed his and the university’s commitment to continuing Georgetown’s need-blind admissions policy, which Heelan said is “worth fighting to maintain.”

Heelan’s letter also emphasized the university’s financial situation. “All of the cost areas … threaten to outrun the rate at which our resources are advancing and put us in danger of being an institution held hostage by the backward shadows of possible future deficits,” he wrote.

Heelan, Gibney, Bell and DeVigne could not reached for comment yesterday.

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