Dennis Henry Holtschneider (born January 14, 1962) is the president of DePaul University in Chicago, United States. He was chosen by the Board of Trustees as the university's president in spring 2004 and took office in July 2004. Since 2014, he has chaired the board of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system. He joined this board in 2009 and served as its vice chair and as chair of the audit and model community committees and as a member of the governance task force and finance committee.
On June 30, 2017, he will step down as president of DePaul. On July 1, 2017, he will become executive vice president and chief operating officer of Ascension. He will step down from the Ascension board on that date.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, he is a 1985 graduate of Niagara University with a bachelor's degree in Mathematics. He is a member of the Congregation of the Mission, an order of Catholic priests founded by St. Vincent de Paul and commonly referred to as Vincentians. He received a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Harvard University in 1997.
Prior to joining DePaul, Holtschneider served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Niagara University from 2000 to 2004. He taught and served in several academic administrative roles at St. John's University between 1996 and 1999. Holtschneider was the Director/Rector of Vincentian College Seminary in Ozone Park, New York from 1989 to 1992. Since 2008, he has been a faculty member in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, teaching seminars and institutes on strategy, governance and management development, among others. He also taught summer institutes on strategic planning at the Villanova University Center for the Study of Church Management from 2006-2010. He served also as Clinical Associate Professor of Higher Education in the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo.
Holtschneider has served in leadership roles on several national advocacy boards for higher education. He joined the American Council on Education’s Board of Directors in 2013, was a trustee for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in 2012-13, and was a trustee for the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities from 2009 to 2015, including serving as chair of that board from 2010-2012. He spent five years as a member of the school board for Chicago Catholic Schools (2009-14) and nine years as a trustee of the Chicago History Museum (2007-2016).
Honors and Affiliations
Holtschneider holds seven honorary degrees, the most recent of which was awarded in December 2016 from Soka University in Tokyo. In 2015, he received the American Council on Education’s Council of Fellows Mentor Award, recognizing his guidance in preparing the next generation of academic leaders in higher education. In 2012, he was noted as one of Diversity MBA Magazine’s Top 100 under 50 Diverse Executive Leaders, and in 2011 he was honored by the Archdiocese of Chicago with its “Strangers No Longer Award” for his leadership on comprehensive immigration reform.
Holtschneider has conducted research and written extensively on higher education strategy and governance. Trusteeship Magazine published his article, “Strategic Capacity: Strengthening University Boards to Govern Strategy” in its November/December 2016 issue. His chapter on “Raising Academic Quality: A Playbook,” appeared in Strategies for University Management in 2016. His chapter “Strategy” appeared in the 2015-2016 Presidential Perspectives Higher Education Thought Leadership Series Innovative Concepts to Achieve Campus Transformation.
In 2007, Holtschneider affirmed a 4–3 vote by DePaul University's Board on Promotion and Tenure (a faculty board) denying tenure to controversial political scientist Norman Finkelstein. Holtschneider was criticized by individuals and external organizations, including the DePaul Academic Freedom Committee and the American Association of University Professors, for not overturning the faculty board's decision. Finkelstein and the university subsequently negotiated an agreement that included placing Finkelstein on administrative leave for the 2007–2008 academic year, the remainder of his contract with DePaul.
In 2010, Holtschneider again came under fire due to the denial of tenure to 6 minority professors at DePaul. Despite the fact that all white candidates for tenure during that year were approved, Holtschneider consistently denied that race placed any role during the tenure process. In fall of 2010, 19 percent of DePaul's full-time faculty members were minorities.
In 2016 he likened Black Lives Matter protesters who disrupted a speaking event to D-Day troops and said the authorized speaker Milo Yiannopoulos was unworthy of speaking there. On June 16, 2016 he announced he would step down as president despite previously planning to remain until 2019. In recent letters to the campus, he apologized for poorly handling race relations which had become worse around Yiannopoulos' speaking event.