Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs Derek Douglas leaving University July 29

derek douglas

On June 6, University of Chicago President Paul Alivisatos announced that Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs Derek Douglas would be leaving his role, effective July 29. Douglas has been named President of the Civic Committee and Commercial Club of Chicago, a membership organization of senior leaders in the region representing business, education, cultural, and philanthropic sectors. 

Douglas has led the Office of Civic Engagement and External Affairs since 2012. In that time, civic engagement has evolved to become an institution-wide commitment that draws on UChicago’s strength as an economic anchor, and on the power of education, research, and innovation to help the city of Chicago thrive.

Read more in President Alivisatos’ message to senior University leadership below:


To: Senior Administrators

From: Paul Alivisatos, President

Subject: Derek Douglas

Date: June 6, 2022

Today, the Commercial Club of Chicago will be announcing that Derek Douglas has been named President of the Civic Committee and the Commercial Club of Chicago, effective August 1, 2022.

During his tenure as Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs, Derek has elevated the role of civic engagement across the University, developing a strategic, University-wide approach grounded in our belief that universities can and should play a significant role in improving the quality of life in their broader communities. He supported academic and administrative units in developing and advancing their own distinct civic priorities, strengthened the collaboration between the University's and the Medical Center's community engagement work, and helped incorporate community needs and priorities into the strategic planning of new University initiatives.

Since joining the University ten years ago, Derek has helped enhance the connection between the community and the University, building trust and growing new mutually beneficial partnerships that have made a positive impact on the South Side and across the city while creating opportunities for students and faculty to learn and contribute their talents to community organizations and institutions directly.  He also played a key role in the formation of the Council on UChicago/Community Relations: Historical, Contemporary, and Future which includes an equal number of campus and community members and is the first of its kind at the University.

Under his leadership, the Office of Civic Engagement advanced initiatives and deepened the University's impact in areas of work including economic inclusion, nonprofit capacity building, student civic engagement, college readiness and access, and civic leadership. Early in his tenure Derek collaborated with internal and external partners to create some of the University's most impactful community programs, including the Civic Leadership Academy (now housed at the Harris School of Public Policy), the Community Programs Accelerator, and UChicago Local, and expanded the University's work with Chicago Public Schools students, growing the Collegiate Scholars Program and, more recently, building a youth internship program. 

In his role overseeing external relations, he collaborated on the revitalization of 53rd Street, bringing more vibrancy and development to the Hyde Park community, advanced business diversity, and strengthened relationships with elected officials and government offices. 

The University is committed to investing in our city, our neighboring communities on the South Side, and our shared prosperity and future. In the coming weeks the University will launch a national search to identify the University’s next Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs. 

I am grateful for Derek’s many contributions to the University, and for his service as a trusted and insightful colleague. Please join me in wishing him great success in his new role at one of Chicago’s most highly regarded civic institutions. 

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