Loyola University Chicago

Department of English

The John Gerrietts Award



It would be difficult to find another faculty member whose life was as firmly tied to Loyola University Chicago as that of Professor John Gerrietts. Aside from long driving vacations, which he enjoyed taking with his colleague Martin Svaglic, he devoted himself almost entirely to his academic career.

In a significant sense, that career spanned and reflected the period during which the university grew from a small Jesuit college into a large and complex institution. He received his B.A. in 1934 and his M.A. in 1937, both from Loyola, but his studies were then interrupted by service in World War II. He returned to Loyola for his doctorate which he completed in 1953.

His dissertation title shows the range of his literary interests: "A Study of the Imaginative Qualities of Poetry from the works of Milton and Coleridge." (His examination board, incidentally, included Professors George Engelhardt and Patrick Casey, two faculty members who were later to see him appointed as their department chairman!)

He was hired as a Loyola faculty member in 1957 and taught a wide range of courses, eventually specializing in American literature. He became chairman of the department in 1958 during a period when the department enjoyed its greatest growth—while also experiencing its most dramatic changes. Between 1958 and 1973 he oversaw the institution of tenure, the reduction of teaching loads from the standard of five courses (per semester!) to four and then down to three. He also established the tradition of hiring by committee and organized the move of the department's offices from a humble quanset hut with a corrugated steel roof to more dignified quarters in the (then newly built) Damen Hall.

Professor Gerrietts was, in spite of the tremendous changes through which he guided the Department, a quiet, unassuming man, largely unaware of how thoroughly he deserved the department's thanks for his careful stewardship of its interests and its resources.


The Gerrietts Prize is given each year to a graduating senior who has excelled as a creative writer (specializing either in fiction or in poetry). Members of the faculty nominate students for this award, which is presented at the Spring Honors Convocation.