Sr. Jean Dolores Schmidt
College of Arts and Sciences
Candidate for the Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters
Chaplain, Loyola's Water Tower Campus and Men's Basketball Team
Presented by K.C. Mmeje, EdD, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students
Jean Dolores Schmidt, a sister in the religious order of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) for more than 75 years, has fulfilled her childhood dream of teaching and inspired countless Loyolans with her community pride and widespread sharing of good will. Her life has been a study in devotion to the needs of others.
After joining the BVMs in 1937, Sister Jean earned her BA at Mount St. Mary’s University in 1949 and her MA at Loyola Marymount University in 1961, both in Los Angeles. Before arriving at Mundelein College in 1961, Sister Jean served as a principal, coach, and teacher at several schools in California and Illinois. At Mundelein, she held several leadership positions in the education department and the office of the college’s academic dean. She also organized a reading clinic where she continued to contribute her knowledge as an educator. During the 1991 affiliation between Mundelein College and Loyola, she helped integrate the two communities. Fittingly, she became an academic advisor in what was then called Mundelein College of Loyola University, known today as Loyola’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
Although retired from full-time work since 1994, she continues to serve the Loyola community through its Campus Ministry Department as chaplain of both the Water Tower Campus and the men’s basketball team. Since becoming chaplain of the men’s basketball team in 1994, Sister Jean has shown her dedication to Loyola’s student-athletes beyond their spiritual health. She believes athletics affords valuable lessons for young people about how to deal with adversity in life. As chaplain of the Water Tower Campus, she befriends students waiting in line for the intercampus shuttle bus, simply to bring joy into their lives.
Living with the students in residence halls off and on since 1978 has allowed Sister Jean to influence students beyond the classroom or the court. One way is by leading prayer groups in residence-hall communities. One of her most successful programs is SMILE (Students Moving Into the Lives of the Elderly). This program connects Loyola students with residents of The Clare, a retirement community on the Water Tower Campus, through which both students and retirees benefit from companionship and mutual learning. Sister Jean also incorporates St. Ignatius’s Daily Examen in her mentoring, encouraging students to reflect on all they have done during the day, especially the things that are positive. And at the Lake Shore Campus, she often sits with students in the Damen Student Center atrium during lunch, getting to know them and offering her guidance.
In 2009, Sister Jean received the Dux Mirabilis Award, an honor given to an extraordinary leader in the Loyola community for outstanding contributions to the University and its mission. She is a truly beloved figure at Loyola who has inspired thousands of students with her unfailing energy, faith, and warmth.