Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, is the 24th president of Loyola University Chicago and the first lay president in the University's history. She joins Loyola with a diverse background that includes various positions in higher education, law, business, health care, and public service. Most recently, Dr. Rooney was managing director at Huron Consulting Group in Chicago with responsibility for developing strategies to advance Huron Healthcare's Federal Government Healthcare Sector consulting practice.
Dr. Rooney's appointment returns her to leadership in higher education, as she has served as the president of both Spalding University—a private, Catholic, doctoral-level university in Louisville, Kentucky—and Mount Ida College, a baccalaureate-level college offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in Newton, Massachusetts. She has also spent more than 22 years in the classroom connecting with students and teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels.
During her eight-year tenure at Spalding, Dr. Rooney led an impressive turnaround of an institution facing severe challenges. Leveraging her strong business, finance, and operational experience—and engaging support from the internal university community, the Archdiocese of Louisville, local business and community leaders, and alumni—she was able to stabilize the university and set it on a course of continued growth, allowing it to thrive to this day. In 2006, Dr. Rooney was named “Most Admired Woman in Education” by Today's Woman magazine.
In July 2010, Dr. Rooney was appointed president of Mount Ida College. After only months in the position, she was called by the Obama Administration to serve her country—a life-changing event that led her on an unexpected career path as the nominee for principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness in the U.S. Department of Defense. She was confirmed for the position by the U.S. Senate in May 2011.
Within the U.S. Department of Defense, Dr. Rooney served as senior advisor to the under secretary of defense comptroller, principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness. As senior advisor to the secretary of defense, she managed a broad portfolio encompassing recruitment, career development, health care, readiness, pay, and benefits for approximately 1.4 million active-duty personnel, 1.3 million Guard and Reserve personnel, and their families. She had direct responsibility for more than 30,000 employees and a budget of more than $70 billion, and served as a senior spokesperson for defense-wide issues.
In 2012, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta awarded Dr. Rooney the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest award given to a civilian by the secretary of defense.
In September 2013, she was again called to serve by the Obama Administration and asked to accept the nomination for under secretary of the Navy, the second-highest position in the department. Her nomination was voted out of committee favorably in October 2013 and January 2014, but she requested her nomination be withdrawn in September 2014 after inactivity by the U.S. Senate.
Dr. Rooney holds a Bachelor of Science with a finance concentration from Boston University School of Management, a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School, a Master of Laws in taxation from Boston University School of Law, and a Doctor of Education in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. Other affiliations include various positions in the legal and business sectors. She is a member of the American Bar Association and three state bar associations, and has served as a board member with a variety of civic and corporate organizations, including the Board of Directors of the Catholic Education Foundation, and as vice chair of Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare—a Catholic Health Initiatives organization—in Louisville, Kentucky. She currently sits on the Board of Trustees for Regis University, a Jesuit institution located in Denver, Colorado.