Thomas S. Hibbs Appointed President of University of Dallas
Baylor University Honors College Dean to Lead UD
Date published: March 13, 2019
The University of Dallas Board of Trustees announced today that it has selected Thomas
S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83, to serve as the university’s ninth president. The
first alumnus of UD to be president, Hibbs has served as dean of the Honors College
and distinguished professor of ethics and culture at Baylor University since 2003.
“We are extremely pleased to have Dr. Hibbs as our ninth president at the University
of Dallas. Dr. Hibbs brings all the tools for a successful presidency. He is a phenomenal
leader, a builder of complex programs, a prolific fundraiser, an academic and a scholar
who has a great appreciation for the Core and for how a rigorous Catholic liberal
arts education benefits not only the graduate, but society at large,” said Chairman
of the Board Thomas Zellers, M.D., BA ’79. “I anticipate he will be a great role model
for faculty, staff and students and will invigorate and sustain a collaborative and
respectful culture on campus.”
“I am humbled and honored by this appointment, which allows me to return to the university
where I first learned what Catholic liberal education is all about,” said Hibbs. “My
experience at a number of other academic institutions since I left UD has only confirmed
in my mind the distinctive and indispensable role of the University of Dallas in the
landscape of American higher education and in Catholic education across the globe.
I am especially honored to be joining a university with such a well-earned reputation
for excellence in teaching, at the center of which is a faculty that combines scholarly
achievement with devotion to the craft of teaching.”
“We are truly blessed to have Dr. Thomas Hibbs return to his alma mater as president.
His educational history as a student, a professor and an administrator at top Catholic
universities throughout our land and most recently at Baylor University is absolutely
exceptional. I look forward to working with him and welcoming him into his role as
president of the University of Dallas,” said Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas and University
Chancellor Edward Burns.
Originally hailing from the D.C. suburbs, Hibbs first came to Irving in 1980 as a
seminarian at Holy Trinity, after studying business for two years at the University
of Maryland. A year later, he left Holy Trinity for his true calling: that of the
intellectual life that he discovered at the University of Dallas.
"Being an alumnus and having been in higher education continuously since graduating
from UD, I feel like I have a very good sense of where UD fits in the higher education
sphere and the special, distinctive role it plays,” said Hibbs. “I know the culture
and how students can be formed by it, as I certainly was during my years in Irving.
I look forward to working closely with students, faculty and administrators across
the university community, and with the board, parents, alumni and benefactors, to
build a University of Dallas that will flourish for generations to come.”
Hibbs received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in philosophy from UD and both a master’s
and a doctorate in medieval studies from the University of Notre Dame. He was a tutor
at Thomas Aquinas College for three years before moving to Boston College, where he
taught for 13 years as full professor and chair of the philosophy department.
“Tom Hibbs is one of the finest Catholic educators in America: a first-rate intellect
wedded to administrative ability and a deep commitment to the church,” said George
Weigel, distinguished senior fellow and William E. Simon chair in Catholic studies
at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, as well as the father of two UD alumnae. “UD
couldn’t have made a better or more exciting choice of president.”
Baylor’s Honors College, of which Hibbs is the inaugural dean, includes four programs
with more than 1,300 students, 35 full-time faculty members, and an endowment in excess
of $15 million. During Hibbs’ tenure, the Honors College’s largest program, the Honors
Program, witnessed a threefold increase in retention. The college includes a residential
facility with 320 students, on-site faculty offices, a faculty-in-residence, and a
chaplain-in-residence. Since 2014, Hibbs has also served Baylor as director of its
programs in Washington, D.C., coordinating student internships, a religious liberty
initiative with Georgetown University and monthly faculty events.
Further, Hibbs helped organize and participated in Baylor study abroad programs in
Italy, Greece and Turkey, including an archeology program outside Viterbo, Italy,
and mission trips embedded within the academic study abroad program in Greece and
“The University of Dallas is getting an outstanding leader in Dr. Hibbs,” said Baylor
University President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “I have greatly appreciated his vision
and leadership of our Honors College and Baylor in Washington initiative, and he will
be deeply missed by students, faculty and staff across our campus. We wish him well
as he joins a long list of individuals with Baylor ties who serve as top executives
at colleges and universities worldwide.”
Hibbs’ wife, Stacey Hibbs, Ph.D., also teaches at Baylor; the couple currently co-teach
a capstone class on friendship. They have three children, two of whom are Baylor alumni
and one who is studying international relations at Baylor. Their oldest daughter participated
in UD’s Arete high school summer program, where she had the opportunity to take a
class with the late University Professor Louise Cowan; this experience was determinative,
Hibbs says, in her decision to study philosophy and literature in college.
“Tom Hibbs is an inspired choice for the University of Dallas. It’s not often that
a university can choose as its leader a real philosopher who has years of experience
running first-rate programs in higher education. Tom is also a public intellectual
whose observations on contemporary affairs are often more interesting than the culture
he is analyzing,” said Catholic University of America President John Garvey. “Add
to this his considerable personal charm, and the fact that he is a father of college
students of his own, and you have the formula for the ideal college president. I congratulate
his alma mater on selecting him.”
Hibbs has spent quite a bit of time in Dallas over the years, especially for early
screenings of movies; he has also visited the UD campus regularly and delivered the
annual Aquinas Lecture in 2009. As an added bonus, his son, an accountant, will soon be working for a firm
“It will be a wonderful thing to be in Dallas,” said Hibbs.
Hibbs has spent most of his career writing, teaching and designing/implementing academic
programs; he has 30 published academic articles, and two are forthcoming. He has written,
edited or provided introductions for 12 books. including three on the thought of Thomas
Aquinas. He has also written more than 200 movie reviews and dozens of essays and
book reviews for publications such as National Review, Catholic World Report, First
Things, The Weekly Standard and others.
As an undergraduate at UD, Hibbs certainly never foresaw one day being president of
the university, but beginning with his role as department chair at Boston College,
he began to see how he enjoyed the administrative side of higher education in addition
to teaching and writing.
“On behalf of the search committee, we are very excited that Dr. Hibbs will be joining
UD as its next president. We had the good fortune of considering many exceptional
candidates for the position, and Dr. Hibbs distinguished himself by his extraordinary
dedication to and articulation of UD's mission, as well as by his proven track record
of leadership in higher education and success with major fundraising initiatives,”
said Search Committee Chair and Vice Chairman of the Board Richard Husseini, BS ’88.
“Under Dr. Hibbs’ leadership, UD is well-poised to recognize its potential as the
premier university of the Catholic intellectual tradition. We could not be more pleased
to welcome Dr. Hibbs back to his alma mater as our next president.”
Hibbs will begin in his new role July 1 on a campus that has experienced significant
growth recently. In the past several years UD has seen its largest incoming undergraduate
class, its highest overall enrollment, the introduction of multiple new academic programs,
and AACSB accreditation of the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business. Additionally,
the university has expanded its Rome, Italy campus, leveraged a real estate sale to
boost its endowment by 27 percent, and invested more than $32 million in new buildings
and athletic facilities.
“Dr. Tom Hibbs is a prolific scholar, an engaging teacher and a genuine servant leader.
He consistently enables and empowers faculty and has always been the go-to leader
for championing innovative new ideas that lead to transformative education and character
formation,” said Lori E. Baker, Ph.D., vice provost for strategic initiatives, collaboration
and leadership development at Baylor. “Ultimately, Christian mission is at the heart
of Dr. Hibbs' decision making and I am excited to see how his faithfulness and dedication
will inspire the faculty, staff, students and alumni at the University of Dallas.”
Read more about Hibbs’ perspective on higher education:
The Liberating Power of the Humanities
College Kids Get Brains, No Soul
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