San Diego Business Journal Title:

President, University of San Diego


Doctorate in biological sciences, Northwestern University; master's degree in botany, University of Illinois at Urbana; bachelor's degree in biology, Mundelein College (now a part of Loyola University of Chicago)






San Diego


Music; attending opera, theater, symphony

Alice Hayes Keeps Funds Coming to USD to Fuel the New Projects on Campus

When Alice Hayes took over as president of the University of San Diego seven years ago, it wasn't unusual for her to move into the office of outgoing president Arthur Hughes. The only thing is Hughes' office was in the freshman boys' dormitory, Maher Hall.

"It was a beautiful office, but it was just the placement of it," Hayes says from her new office in the Hughes Administration Center, across from Maher Hall. "Our taste in music wasn't the same, and I probably heard some things they probably preferred that I didn't hear."

The president stayed in the boys' dorm for more than a year because the office she now has was occupied by the school's bishop. Hayes, 63, didn't make a fuss about her first office; those days were quite amusing, she recalls.

It's not unusual for Hayes to be in unfamiliar situations.

The Chicago native is the first female president of the university in its present format. (USD was chartered in 1945 as a college for women, a college for men and a school of law. In 1972, the university was restructured and all colleges became one with Hughes as its single president).

Hayes is a part of the small percentage of women college presidents. According to the American Council on Education, women make up 19 percent of university presidents nationwide. During her interview for USD job, she was asked how she planned to fill the shoes of the president , a position held previously by a man whose wife helped with fund-raising efforts.

Her answer was simple.

"I came from a Jesuit university and none of (the priests) had wives and they were pretty good at fund-raising," Hayes says.

Nonetheless, it didn't take long for Hayes to realize she needed someone to help raise money. Soon after, she hired a social coordinator to take over the duties of what she called the "wife of a the president."

Shift In Philosophies

Although the percentage of women who are college presidents is still considerably small, Hayes says it is better than what it was. She says as time goes on, people are becoming more accustomed to women heading colleges and universities. For her, on the other hand, it has never been something out of the ordinary.

"I went to a college for women and saw women as presidents, deans and faculty members," Hayes says. "It never seemed to me that it would be difficult for women to do. It's hard for some people to get used to that, but they will in time."

Hayes is also a part of an even smaller percentage of college presidents who have a background in natural sciences , 11.6 percent. Along with her chores as university president, she is a biologist.

"It is unusual," Hayes admits. "There are not that many college presidents who are scientists. Presidents tend to have backgrounds in higher education or the humanities. Here in San Diego, however, there have been a few university presidents who are scientists."

Two other local university heads have a background in the sciences. Robert Dynes, chancellor of the UC San Diego is a physicist, and Tom Day, past president of San Diego State University, is a chemist.

"That reflects the importance of science and technology in the San Diego area," Hayes says.

Hayes says if she wasn't in her current position, she probably would be doing research in molecular biology.

Although she doesn't wear a lab coat or spend her days in a biology lab, Hayes still focuses on the advancements of science and technology.

Since 1969, she has mixed science with academia. She came to USD after six years as executive vice president/provost and professor of biology at Saint Louis University. Hayes spent 27 years at Loyola University of Chicago, where she served as vice president for academic affairs, associate academic vice president, dean for the natural sciences, and chairperson of the department of natural science. From 1960 to 1962, she conducted mycology research for the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium.

She continued to teach and do research until she took the post of vice president for academic affair in 1987. That's when she put her lab coat away for good, but her interest in research and science never ended.

"You don't ever stop," she says. "You continue to have ideas. I still feel I'm a teacher and an educator, but I don't do research anymore."

Expansion Mode

Her love and passion for science is evident in her work at USD. The campus has a high concentration of science curriculum and soon will have a new $46 million Center for Science and Technology.

There are more than $100 million worth of projects under construction at USD, including new dormitories, and the $25 million Joan Kroc Center for Peace and Justice, which will open in the fall. The science building, however, holds a special fondness for Hayes.

"It's a very significant project for us," Hayes says. "It will bring all the sciences together in one building.

"I see this as a benefit to our economy. We're helping train the work force."

It's fair to say Hayes has been successful in leading the school's fund-raising efforts. She has witnessed completion of the $17 million Jenny Craig Pavilion sports facility, and raised a portion of the money needed for the science building.

"People don't just run to the campus and say, 'Can I give you money?'" she says. "The community is very responsive and gets involved in what we're doing here. We do very little here alone. We need help for everything."

Hayes says there is no way they could charge a tuition to cover the cost of the school's operations, so asking the community for money is vital.

"I would have a hard time asking people to give money to me. But to the university? Not at all, because these projects are very worthwhile," Hayes says. "They are things the community can be proud of making happen."

Board Member

Hayes' work with the local business community hasn't gone unnoticed. She was asked to join the board of directors of Jack In The Box because CEO and Chairman Robert Nugent felt she would bring the missing link to the group.

"I was looking for someone in academia who I thought would provide a good skill set that was missing on our board," Nugent says. "We also wanted more diversity on the board, so a woman would certainly satisfy that objective."

Hayes has been on the Jack In The Box board for two years and is the only woman and educator.

Nugent says Hayes' "intelligence and her wonderful grasp for the larger issues that society faces" benefits the board. He says she has helped format his company's training and development programs.

Hayes also sits on boards for the Globe Theatres, the San Diego Foundation, Catholic Charities, and is an advisory member for the Timken Museum of Art, the Mingei Museum and the San Diego Opera.

Those involvements depict her second love of the theater and music. Hayes said she catches every opera and symphony performance that she can.

She also has a compelling passion for gardening. Since her house sits on USD's campus, she doesn't get a chance to actually get her hands dirty in her garden. The school has grounds crews for that.

But she does make it habit to drive around the campus every Sunday to admire and photograph everything that blooms on the campus.

"I don't know what they all are, although I'm a botanist," she says. "I know Midwest flowers, but I know this campus is truly a botanical garden."

Hayes says she is not planning to retire anytime soon, but when she does she wants people to look at the university and see the quality of students, faculty and facilities she left behind.

"This was a good university when I came here, and I'm not trying to change what it is, but I want to enhance the quality so everything we do have is better."