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City Club of Chicago Remarks

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Focusing on Loyola's strong future in the city, Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, spoke at the City Club of Chicago on October 4.

On October 4, Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, president of Loyola University Chicago, addressed the members of the City Club of Chicago. In her second year at Loyola and in Chicago, Dr. Rooney outlined her view of the University’s past and present—and where it will go in the future.

Two weeks after Steve Katsouros, S.J., spoke on the same stage about Arrupe College’s new approach to higher education, Dr. Rooney expanded on the numerous ways Loyola is bringing that same innovation across the University and to communities throughout Chicago and beyond.

Watch Dr. Rooney's speech at the City Club of Chicago's website, or read her remarks below.

City Club of Chicago Remarks
October 4, 2017

Good afternoon. Thank you, Jackie, for that warm welcome, and my deepest appreciation to President Doherty, Dr. Mazur, and the City Club of Chicago Board of Governors for the opportunity to join you today.

Now in my second year at Loyola, I can truly say that the past 16 months since the announcement have been very full, but without question, every day I feel a sense of honor and privilege to be part of such a wonderful university, at this time and in the City of Chicago.

Before I came to the city and during my first months, I did a little research and asked many people what are the “essential” experiences in Chicago? So far, I have done my fair share of sightseeing and attendance at cultural performances, taking in the architectural tours, being on the lake, visiting several museums, attending the symphony and ballet, and experiencing music on a summer evening in Millennium Park. I have also sampled a few versions of Chicago pizza and popcorn mixes.

There are many special days and experiences that stand out, graduation for our students being at the top of the list—with a tandem skydive from 13,500 feet ranking in the top few for certain. The last causing a bit of consternation for some of my colleagues and board chair. However, one day, in particular, that also ranks near the top was November 4, 2016. That day is special for a few reasons. I will admit to being a life-long Red Sox fan and many of my Boston family were here in Chicago on that day. They tell me they were here to celebrate my inauguration which was held on the fourth, but I really think they wanted to be part of the 5 million people celebrating the amazing World Series win by the Cubs.

Yes, it was a great day all around. Of course, I continue to add to my list of Chicago experiences and can only hope that maybe we will have a Red Sox/Cubs World Series. One thing that has become abundantly clear over the course of the past year is that time with the City Club of Chicago is indeed essential. Thank you for allowing me to spend time with you today.

Loyola University Chicago and the City Club share something very important: a long-standing and deep commitment to the common good in Chicago.

So, in our time together this afternoon, I would like to share some thoughts about Loyola University Chicago: a bit of the past, much about the present, and a glimpse into the future. I want to share our view of the call to action that drives us. How we continue bringing the commitment to the common good and our mission to be women and men for others, together, at this time, for the good of our collective future in this city, our neighborhoods, and beyond.

It is about working closely with Chicago’s business and civic communities to make the common good in our city—uncommonly better.

Let me start by sharing a few facts about Loyola today. We are the only Jesuit, Catholic university in Chicago and one of the largest in the United States. In fact, we have the largest undergraduate population of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S.

Loyola has been part of Chicago since 1870, and, we, like the city, have continued to grow and change in a dynamic way. We are located across multiple campuses and locations, including: Chicago’s Edgewater and Rogers Park neighborhoods, the Water Tower Campus downtown, our Health Sciences Campus in Maywood, our Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock, and our Loyola Lake County campus, which hosts primarily MBA and professional programs. We also offer our students a broader world view through global programs in Rome, Beijing, and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Across these locations, we offer educational opportunities for every age and stage of life, including an associate’s degree program, more than 80 undergraduate majors, and 170 graduate and professional programs, ranging from certificate programs to master’s degrees and PhDs.

Here at home, we’re investing in the neighborhoods where Loyolans study, live, and work. With more than 16,650 students and over 5,000 employees we have the opportunity to make a real economic impact—and we do. More than 50 percent of our faculty and staff reside in the city thanks, in part, to a Loyola-assisted housing program that helps our employees offset costs when they purchase a home in Chicago as their primary residence.

Over the past 15 years, we’ve invested more than $700 million dollars into new buildings, streetscapes, and campus-edge improvements and partnered with local developers to unlock the potential of Loyola-owned land.

And when our students graduate, they enter a proud, global network of more than 150,000 Loyola University Chicago alumni. 85,000 of those alumni live right here in Chicagoland.

Our work, every day, really is about education and our students. Our current student body represents all 50 states and 105 different countries, and that is just within our 10,000+ undergraduates.

Over 90 percent of those same undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid enabling them to attend Loyola. In addition, many are the first in their families to attend college.

So that’s us—by the numbers.

As members of the Loyola family (and I know there are many of us here today), we are very proud of those numbers. However, what brings the heart and soul to Loyola is not the numbers but the people. What we find even more compelling and, dare I say, more life changing than our economic impact is our social impact, made possible through our Jesuit, Catholic mission and identity and the people who translate those ideals into action.

Together, this is the heartbeat of Loyola University Chicago. This is what makes us different and unique. We exist as a diverse Chicago community and embrace that diversity as the core of our strength. We work to expand knowledge in the service of humanity through learning, justice, and our faith. This is what we mean by women and men for others. We care for the whole person, intellectually, morally, physically, and spiritually.

In union with the Jesuits, we call that cura personalis. It is this focus that allows us to do one thing really well: prepare people to lead extraordinary lives of leadership and service to others.

Let me share some examples of this today…

Starting with Alejandra. Alejandra was originally brought to the United States at the age of 14 and lived in Savannah, Georgia. As a teenager, she overcame language barriers and social obstacles and thrived in high school.

Alejandra went on to college in Savannah where she worked tirelessly studying, assisting in conducting biomedical research, and volunteering at a local clinic, educating the underinsured about disease prevention and often interpreting for Spanish-speaking patients. She began teaching herself sign language so that she could assist the hearing impaired.

All the while, she cleaned houses and did countless odd jobs to help pay her bills. In addition, she retained the 3.5 grade point average that was required to keep her scholarship.

In 2016, Alejandra received her BA in Chemistry, and today she is a second-year student at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. She is studying to become an OB-GYN and practice in the underserved communities in her home state of Georgia.

I invite you to imagine the impact that a physician like Alejandra will make on the world, the impact that she will make for decades for people on the margins.

Then there is Mariana, another amazing young woman. Mariana graduated last May with a BA in Political Science. She addressed her fellow graduates during her Commencement ceremony on behalf of the College of Arts and Sciences and recalled the journey that brought her to Loyola University Chicago.

Born in Matamoros, Mexico, as a school girl, she saw many children her age who could not go to school because their families needed them to work to help put food on the table. She recognized the importance of education and realized it was not guaranteed for everyone.

Mariana recalled in her Commencement remarks that her mother told her that a college education would provide a pathway for her to fulfill her goal of “leading a life with purpose.” Education would require work and self-discipline. This opportunity would enable her to be the first in her family to earn a college degree.

Yes, she became discouraged at times. Yes, she had moments of self-doubt, but she did do it. This past spring, many of us shared tears of joy with Mariana as she took her oath of citizenship becoming a U.S. citizen, followed a few months later by graduation where she earned her degree from Loyola.

When Mariana spoke to the audience filling the arena on graduation day, she talked of her awakening to social justice during college. She realized that her education at Loyola and her experiences enabled her to find her voice as an agent for change who would actively participate in the most meaningful aspects of life, challenging the status quo every step of the way.

That should serve her very well as she pursues her next goal of law school!

Next, it is about our faculty and staff in the School of Education. In May 2012, Mayor Emanuel announced a partnership between Loyola University Chicago and Nicholas Senn High School, in which our Loyola School of Education committed to working with the Senn principal, administrative team, and faculty to help support the academic achievement of the students at Senn High.

Going strong to this day, this partnership model exemplifies how academic research and experiences can translate into practical improvements and transformation.

Mary Beck, our partner and principal at Senn High, says, “Senn students are learning from Loyola students, Loyola students are learning from Senn teachers, and our teachers are learning from Loyola faculty members. Loyola’s presence can be felt throughout Senn, and the community is stronger for it.”

Then it is about Neal, our soccer coach, who spent over 4 minutes of his 5-minute address to an audience talking about a trip the team took to Peru last year. He could not say enough about the wonderful service the young men on the team undertook in the poorest of neighborhoods in Lima. How they worked to help build shelters and fix and clean areas to assist the community. And how they engaged in pickup games of soccer with the local children, who did not have much in the way of material goods, but had a love of game and connected in a special way with the team.

Likewise, when you speak with the players on the team, the first topic is not about soccer. It is about how each feels transformed by the experience in ways never anticipated. It is about acknowledging how this shared service brought them together in a special way that practice and matches could never do.

Oh, and so that I do not forget, this team also went on to win the MVC tournament last year, but that was just an afterthought to the real experience and a footnote to the coach’s comments and those of his team!

It is also about Bob, an experienced history professor in his 29th year of teaching, who looks forward to the first day of class each semester when he gets to greet brand new freshman to their first college class—yes, a requirement. You can witness firsthand, how the students were often tentative, reserved, anxious, excited, and maybe even a bit questioning over the need to take this required course. However, within the first few minutes, Bob makes world history come alive in ways that match today’s headlines and have a relevancy to whatever future career these students follow. Very quickly the students realize that understanding events that took place hundreds of years ago directly impacts our public policy discussions today and their ability to be future advocates and leaders.

And it is certainly about Asya, a young Chicago woman who recently graduated from Arrupe College, sharing her journey and that of her classmates in the first graduating class. She shared a time when she questioned whether continuing in the program was worth it. How she decided to skip a day of class to ponder the next step, not certain she would return to class.

She felt in her own words, beige—lacking color and vitality and energy, just beige. Sitting along the lake that day, she realized that it was not about just going through the motions, going to class for the sake of getting it done. If she was to become the vivid color she wanted, it was up to her and in her control. It was about harnessing the power of her education to make a difference.

Yes, she finished at Arrupe, but she is not done. She is presently in her junior year at Loyola studying business. Beige is no longer a color in Asya’s world nor in the world of those around her.

I can go on and on and on, yet Asya’s story and many of the others I cited also give us a glimpse into the future. The future of higher education and the future of Loyola University Chicago

At Loyola, it is our mandate to continue going to the frontiers where others have not gone, to reach out to the most marginalized people in our city and our world, and to fearlessly address some of the toughest challenges in society. Yes, we must risk discomfort and confront ambiguity to redefine what is really possible and take action.

But how?

How can we even begin to do this? What challenges face us in the future? How do we ensure continued financial stability and agility to meet new demands? How do we ensure the highest academic quality and effectiveness in a dynamic changing, technology-driven world? How do we respond when the value of higher education is being challenged? How do we embrace the changing student demographics knowing that 61 percent of undergraduates will be 25 years of age or older by 2019? How do we embrace innovation as the path to the future and display the necessary courage, creativity, and decisiveness to make it happen? How do we ensure that our Jesuit, Catholic mission remains steadfast as the foundation for our research, teaching, and service—frankly the foundation for everything we do?

We want to always be present in the moment and cherish that gift, but we recognize that our future must begin in this moment as well. The numbers are important now and in the future, and you have likely heard the saying, no margin, no mission. For us, it is about continuing with the discipline and stewardship of resources already in place but also enhancing our decision-making sophistication and effectiveness through the implementation of multiyear strategic financial planning and dynamic data analysis.

However, this is just the first step. Our most creative ideas, best devised plans, and most detailed analyses are empty dreams without the people required to lead these efforts.

We believe, as persons for others, it all must start by focusing our attention on our students—on meeting our students where they are and educating them for what the world of tomorrow needs them to be. Our recent graduates of the Class of 2017 are entering careers and jobs that did not even exist 10 years ago. Plus we are acutely aware that in five years, most of the jobs today will not even exist or will be dramatically different.

We are continuously adapting curriculum and other offerings to prepare our students to meet the demands and expectations of a 21st century workforce. At Loyola, our job is to provide a relevant and truly transformative education to all of our students by shaping people who have the skills, the knowledge, the heart, and the grit they need to make a difference on the frontiers of society.

At the same time, we’re seeking to better understand and appreciate the diversity and range of perspectives in the local, national, and global conversation. We must continue to lead in the modeling of civil discourse. We must present opportunities for our students, faculty, staff, and community to engage in ways that encourage vibrant, inclusive, and respectful exchanges of varying perspectives and ideas. We must hone the skills of critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and effective communication in all of our students and sharpen those same skills in ourselves.

We know in these turbulent times that God is already there ahead of us; we just need to pay attention and respond to that presence.

Access to affordable education is near the top of the list of challenges and opportunities for colleges and universities across the country. We work very hard at Loyola to keep costs low and challenge ourselves to be as efficient as possible and good stewards of all of our resources. We are continuously looking to expand our external support for scholarships, but we also stay vigilant about the debt levels our students carry.

We are working to reimagine the traditional path from secondary to post-secondary education particularly for first-generation college students from families with limited financial means. Our Arrupe College model is just such a program. Some of you may have heard Father Steve Katsouros, the founding dean of Arrupe, speak about the program at the City Club or read about it in the Chicago Tribune. He is here with us today, and I will put a plug in for his book, How the Jesuits are Reinventing Education (Again), if you want a firsthand account of this magnificent program. I will repeat a comment from one of our Jesuits: “There is no better story right now in higher education.”

We are continuously looking for new ways to bring together various academic disciplines to solve vexing issues. Whether it is bringing our social work and sociology faculty together with heath care professionals to better support telemedicine in rural areas.

Whether it is bringing our environmental sustainability faculty together with our business school to better foster true social impact and responsibility with those leaders. It is about seeking out critical partnerships both inside and outside of Loyola to take action and lead long-term change as we are called to do.

We are focused on the future, but we are working to begin shaping that future every day by tapping into the expertise and utilizing the resources of the University to strengthen our communities.

Let me highlight just a few examples of this community work.

Last year, we created the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice with the goal of improving the quality and administration of criminal and juvenile justice in Chicago and throughout the state. Our faculty, students, and staff are working with state, county, and city justice practitioners, as well as NGOs and social service providers, to improve the fairness and efficacy of the justice system while reducing crime.

We are honored to be working with other community partners on the anti-violence initiative convened by Cardinal Blase Cupich and the Archdiocese of Chicago. This critically important work is designed to break the violence-causing cycle of despair, racism, and poverty in the city.

Our ability to bring together and coordinate many academic disciplines across Loyola through our Center for Urban Research and Learning has been an invaluable resource for this work. CURL, as we refer to it, has been cited numerous times for their groundbreaking work locally as well as nationally. This type of multidisciplinary work and interdisciplinary programing is very much a model for future development in higher education.

We are continuing our work with Cook County to better understand and improve how the justice system responds to young adults. As part of this effort, we are collaborating with one of our Loyola alumni, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who stood at this podium back in May.

We have just begun working with our partners at Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health in the area of big data analysis. By examining and analyzing the data across the entire Trinity network, we anticipate being able to impact the delivery of care to patients—frankly the care that you and I along with our loved ones receive in the future. Whether through better pre- and post-op care, changing protocols for ventilator usage, or timing and dosage of medications, all aspects of this work promise to be truly transformational for health care delivery.

And, finally, there is our community work on sustainability.

Mayor Emanuel has set a goal for Chicago to become “the greenest city in the world,” and we are embracing that initiative to help make that goal a reality.

In 2013, the Institute of Environmental Sustainability under the guidance of Dr. Nancy Tuchman, was started. This institute provides us with the launch pad from where we work to create solutions addressing the stress on our planet's natural resources and expand important knowledge through teaching, conducting research, and sponsoring outreach activities on pressing environmental issues. Though still relatively young, the work by the faculty and students has received numerous awards and recognitions on a local, national, and now international stage.

We are particularly proud of a few projects that touch the Chicago community. First, our CPS Drinking Water Project, which is a partnership with Chicago Public Schools, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Jardine Water Purification Plant, to measure, monitor, and eradicate any lead in the drinking water of the 527-campus CPS system.

Then there is the West Pullman Neighborhood Revitalization Project, just 12 miles south of here. Partnering with Chicago Habitat for Humanity and the Far South Community Development Corporation, we are working to establish a soil remediation program that will use plants to remove heavy metal toxins like lead and mercury from the soils of empty lots in the historic West Pullman neighborhood. This will help accelerate the revitalization of this historic neighborhood

There is so much more I can share that touches every corner of the University. However, I trust that the stories shared and examples cited provide you with a good sense of the kind of work that is underway at Loyola University Chicago, today, and where our path will lead into the future. I cannot be emphatic enough in stating how much we value your past and current support and rely on that support to continue into the future.

So as I conclude, I would like to ask you to consider a few ways we can build on our work together and strengthen our partnerships.

First, and this will come as no surprise (I am the University President, after all and spend a great deal of time with the Jesuits), we welcome your philanthropy. I could say it more delicately, but there is simply no substitute for financial support particularly to fund our student financial aid, educational access goals, and new future initiatives.

Second, if you know of qualified applicants—prospective students, faculty, and staff who might be interested in joining the Loyola University Chicago family—we welcome your referrals.

Third, when you are looking for great interns and full-time employees, please include Loyola University Chicago students and alumni on your short list. They are a remarkable resource and well prepared to serve, grow, and lead in your organizations.

And finally, I hope you will continue to get to know us even better and work with us to spread the excitement about and impact of Loyola University Chicago far and wide. We are not the type of university that keeps our students and our faculty cloistered away, pondering the world. Instead, we are out in our city, out in our communities, and out in our world.

Our founder, St. Ignatius, loved the cities and their people, their problems, and their vitality. He always placed early Jesuit institutions in the center of cities.

We are part of Chicago and proud of it. We teach our students that education is the single most powerful tool they have to transform themselves and their city. We teach them what it means to take the harder road and continue with persistence and tenacity. To us, this is what it means to prepare people to lead extraordinary lives and become women and men for others.

As I conclude my remarks, I am reminded of the way Saint Ignatius of Loyola would sign off. He ended a letter to St. Francis Xavier with the Latin expression, Ite, inflammate omnia.

Or, Go forth, set the world on fire.

Now, Chicago has some well-known “history” in that department, dating back to 1871, but I will assure you, that is not what St. Ignatius meant. What he did mean was to set out a direct challenge for all of us: “Go forth—and make a real and lasting difference.”

Our goal at Loyola University Chicago, today and in the years ahead, is that all of us go forth and set the world on fire—together.

Thank you.

Loyola University Chicago 2017 Faculty Convocation

Remarks by Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, at Faculty Convocation 2017

September 10, 2017

Good afternoon. I am delighted to welcome our new faculty as well as our returning faculty to today’s Convocation. This event brings together for the first time in recent memory, faculty from our Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses, as well as our Health Sciences Campus, for a joint Faculty Convocation. Thank you for being here.

What a wonderful opportunity all of us have to be working in higher education at this time in our history! However, it is not about working at just any college or university, but being here at Loyola University Chicago—at this time and in this place. On any given day we get to work with colleagues that are passionate about their work and their scholarship, we get to interact with students who are engaging and enthusiastic, we are challenged to be creative and innovative as a means to further our mission of social justice and impact, and we are surrounded by physical settings that truly inspire. Coming together and spending time together today, in this way, reinforces and underscores the shared mission across all of our campuses and across all of our programs that creates One Loyola. It also highlights the essential need we have to seek out opportunities to partner and collaborate together. Yes, together, we are able to bring out the best in each other. We will be able to innovate and challenge each other in ways that support our aspirations of further enhancing our robust academic and research goals, deepening our mission work and social justice impact, and providing a truly transformative, timely education to all our students well into the future. 

Together, we can also confront the obstructions and impediments that threaten so much of our society and so many of our neighbors, especially the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized that we are charged with embracing. In the wake of the horrific events that took place in Charlottesville last month; the devastation wrought by recent natural disasters and weather events across our country, the Caribbean, and Mexico; and the decision to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), we are reminded of the importance of our mission and of our need to take action. Our world cannot afford for racism, poverty, injustice, and any kind of discrimination to go unchecked. Together, whether faculty, staff, or administrators, we commit to the students who join us to prepare them for so much more than just a job or career. We promise to prepare them to become women and men for others and leaders in service to our global society. We want to engage with all of our students in ways that they develop skills as critical thinkers; that they are motivated to go to the frontiers and become the sources of new knowledge; that they will seek to understand, to experience, to take action; and that they will embrace their ability to actually change the world in ways that are both compassionate and passionate. While all of us endeavor to do this, you, our esteemed faculty, are the key facilitators of this educational process. It does not matter whether you teach in the humanities, arts, sciences, business, technology, or medical fields, or even whether you teach new freshmen, doctoral students, or every level in between: you are at the forefront day in and day out. You are the ones who our students see as more than just educators. You are the ones they most often look to as guides, as role models, and as mentors. It is also through your work in the classroom, through your research, and through your community engagement that our students, our neighbors, and our supporters witness the mission of Loyola University Chicago coming to life. 

Yes, we need to celebrate the great strides we continue to make and our unwavering commitment to do more, but we must also acknowledge and embrace the challenges ahead of us that we will address, together. Going to the frontier, going where others have not gone, is something we are being called to do through both our Jesuit mission and Pope Francis. This charge requires us to shake off any complacency and go beyond the boundaries of our comfort zones, challenge ourselves to take risks so we can be open to trying something new without fear of failure, and embrace ambiguity in ways that can enable us to redefine what is truly possible.

At the recent New Student Convocation, we welcomed Wil Haygood, author of Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America. His address was timely, poignant, and challenging to all who heard it. Dr. Haygood was the first in his family to earn a college degree and he shared a heartfelt memory of how the Supreme Court decision in Brown versus Board of Education gave a new mother, his mother, renewed hope and dreams for her newborn children, Wil and his twin sister. This single decision directly impacted his life, that of his sister, and that of his entire family. As I stated to our students that day, the civil rights experiences of the 1960s that are portrayed in Showdown are not just relevant to the time of Justice Marshall’s confirmation and something confined to history. These are issues and struggles still being experienced, still being witnessed by all of us today, over 50 years later. Our call to action is still very much relevant, very much needed.   

We embrace the notion that we are a community rooted in and made stronger because of our diversity. However, there is so much more to be done both within our University community and in our surrounding communities. Together, we must commit to do more and be tenacious in our efforts. We need to continue advancing our recruiting and successful retention, through graduation, of a diversity of students who desire a Loyola education. Especially for our African-American and Hispanic students, we need to find ways to enhance our support and create that sense of belonging so that they are able to graduate at the same rate as all of our other students. We must also continue improving our recruitment and retention of faculty and staff members who represent the broad diversity found in our student body and throughout our communities. We can and will do more to be a welcoming and supportive community for all who study, teach, and work here. And, we will continue to advocate for and support our many first-generation and DACA students who are valued members of our University community. We will clearly demonstrate for our neighbors and the world what unity in diversity looks like, and how that combined strength can truly transform the world. 

Throughout our history, Loyolans have embraced change and challenged the status quo in order to establish our path forward and be recognized as a leader in higher education, both nationally and internationally. Last year, I often spoke about the need to embrace a culture of innovation in order to strengthen that role and proactively address the pressures being felt throughout higher education, as well as in health care, and the need for us to take advantage of the many untapped opportunities that are available.

Access to affordable education is at or near the top of the list of challenges for colleges and universities across the country and it certainly is for us. Our mission compels us to ensure that a Loyola education is not limited to those only with the financial means to access it. We must not waiver in our commitment to be excellent stewards of all of our resources and continue to build more robust investment and engagement by our supporters and benefactors outside of the University.

During the past year, we have also reached out to many of you, including our deans and staff members, to work on a new project involving five strategic financial planning working groups. The charge given to these working groups was to share not only data and detailed information, but also to make concrete recommendations and share strategic ideas aimed at achieving better alignment of all of our resources over the next three to five years. Their work, begun last spring, continues unabated through at least the end of this calendar year and has brought involvement by the broader University in strategic fiscal planning to a new level. For those of you that continue to serve on these planning groups, thank you so much for your hard work in this effort. We fully expect that as we implement many of the ideas coming forth, in the next budget year and beyond, the positive impact you have made will resonate for many years to come.

Our academic endeavors are at the heart of what we do, so we also have begun to review, in a thoughtful and methodical way, all of our undergraduate and graduate programs and the enrollments in these programs. We are asking the difficult questions, but maintaining our focus on how best to grow and support our programs, student enrollment, and funding in innovative, meaningful, and sustainable ways. Yes, we have enjoyed robust enrollments these past two years in our undergraduate programs, but our ongoing, lower than budgeted enrollments across a number of graduate programs continues to neutralize any revenue gain we may have achieved. We need to look at growth not just for growth’s sake, but as the means by which we can reinvest in our strong, current work and sustainably support the innovative ideas that so many of you are developing. The faculty innovation fund, begun last year, is just one way in which we expect to continue stimulating and supporting the start-up of new programs and initiatives during the initial phases and assessment period. Maintaining our currently strong financial position, which we were able to do again last year, is something that gives us a distinct advantage over many of our colleagues in other universities. It is also imperative to ensure our ability to take advantage of the opportunities before us by continuing to fund innovation, support new programs, and responsibly sustain the existing strong programs and services over the long term. Our need to think in strategic terms and challenge ourselves to plan in no less than three year increments, is a key part of the discipline we are adopting.   

There are other changes on the horizon that we must also heed and take into consideration for the future. We cannot afford to ignore both the impact, as well as the potential opportunity, that changing student demographics will have on our institution. National statistics have indicated that by the year 2019, 61 percent of undergraduate students will be 25 years old or older. The number of high-school graduates in Illinois and in the Midwest continues to decline rapidly from the peak years of 2009 and 2010. There is a growing demand for subbacalaureate credentials and for programs that offer flexibility for students who need to balance academic pursuits with work and family obligations. With all of us working together, we can develop and promote programs that will target new undergraduate students and advance graduate education to meet the needs of tomorrow’s students while remaining true to our core and mission.

This is all challenging and change is difficult. It is certainly hard, and at times may appear daunting and overwhelming with all that we must take on, but it is meaningful, impactful work. However, without question, it will take much in the way of physical and emotional energy from each and every one of us. We must continue to do this together, to focus on this, even as we balance the emotions which continue to run high in our country with the new challenges and accompanying tensions that present themselves on a daily basis. Our success, our ability to drive change, not just at Loyola but across education and our communities, depends on our willingness to thoughtfully and openly listen to and engage with each other. We must seek to better understand and appreciate the diversity and range of perspectives and opinions. It is incumbent on all of us to model civil discourse and respectful dialogue, and to recommit ourselves to the Jesuit ideal of Cura Personalis—caring for one another and respecting the dignity of all members of our community.

Particularly during times when I am feeling frustrated or stymied about how best to make sense out of something that appears to defy reasonableness and determine how to start moving forward, I often go back to the words of Father Pedro Arrupe, a well-known former superior general of the Society of Jesus and the namesake of Arrupe College. My goal in sharing these words again with you today is that they may also provide you a measure of hope, perspective, and faith when embracing everything before us.

Father Arrupe spoke to Jesuit university leaders in 1973 and said: “All of us would like to be good to others, and most of us would be good in a good world. What is difficult is to be good in an evil world, where the egotism of others and the egotism built into the institutions of society attack us. Evil is overcome only by good, egoism by generosity. It is thus that we must sow justice in our world, substituting love for self-interest as the driving force of society.”

Together, we are called to be a good and generous community. We strive to be this, to live this, and we will continue to do so every day. St. Ignatius and his companions founded the Society of Jesus on the idea that we engage with the world in all its grit and all its glory and that God is found in all of it. We do not have the option—nor, frankly, the inclination—to run away from the world or flee from difficult situations or conversations. We are here to engage, participate, and challenge ourselves, our students, and each other in service to our world and most especially, the poor and marginalized members of our society. This is what brings us together—at Loyola University, at this time and in this place.

Thank you again for coming together today as a faculty community and for your commitment to our extraordinary students and Loyola University Chicago. Thank you also for all you do each and every day. I look forward to working together with you.

Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago Inaugural Commencement

Remarks by Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, at the Inaugural Commencement Ceremony for Arrupe College

August 12, 2017

Good afternoon, graduates of Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago! Buenas tardes, y bienvenidos a todos los miembros de sus familias y a todos sus amigos que han venido para participar en nuestra celebración! Compartimos su alegría y su orgullo al contemplar a estos estudiantes tan trabajadores que representan nuestros nuevos graduados. Gracias por estar aquí con nosotros.

Graduates—that has a great sound to it…right? Let’s be clear; today is all about you. Today, we are here to celebrate you, our inaugural class of graduates from Arrupe College. I am honored to join your families and friends, and fellow Loyolans, along with Father Katsouros and the dedicated faculty and staff in Arrupe College, in congratulating you on achieving this special milestone. You have worked hard and sacrificed much along the way to arrive at this extraordinary moment. Celebrate it, embrace it—you have earned it.

I am also grateful to Cardinal Cupich and Cook County Board President Preckwinkle for joining us this afternoon and for your strong, unwavering support of these talented women and men. Thank you so much for being here and sharing this special celebration with us.

You, our graduates, are a uniquely gifted and motivated group. You applied to Arrupe College—or were encouraged to apply by your high school counselors, family, and friends, even if you were concerned that you would not be accepted. Why? Because deep down, you possessed the drive and you certainly had the dreams. You knew that this Arrupe College program would give you a chance to learn, to grow, and to challenge yourselves in new and exciting ways. You also knew, within your core, your soul, that you were bold enough, tenacious enough to realize that you—yes, each and every one of you—can—no must—go forth and set the world on fire in your own unique way. Today, in this moment, proves that you were right!

You, Arrupe College Class of 2017, the first graduating class of Arrupe College, embody the Jesuit spirit of going to the frontier, the unexplored territory where you pave the path for yourselves and others who follow. Besides being among a very select group of students who completed an associate's degree in under three years, you also created the Arrupe College chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the academic honor society for two-year colleges. You participated in service projects at Misericordia, Labre Homeless Ministries, and Loyola University-sponsored food and goods drives, and you went to Springfield to lobby for the funding of MAP grants. And…you inspired not only the beautiful, original artwork in the lobby of the college entitled Jesus of Arrupe, but you also inspired all of us and those that follow in your footsteps.

Your experiences in the classroom, on spiritual retreats, and in summer-enrichment programs have prepared you well no matter which path you next choose to follow.

As you transition from being an Arrupe College student to being a graduate, I ask you to remember that you, like all of us, have a tremendous opportunity—and I dare say, responsibility—to do something extraordinary with all you have received. I encourage you, wherever your life’s journey takes you, to have the courage to continue reaching deep within yourself, take risks even if it is uncomfortable, confront ambiguity and turn it into clarity of purpose, and tackle the societal issues that are so difficult and divisive in our world today. Our Jesuit, Catholic mission, the one that has been so much a part of you, is rooted in a commitment to prepare you for an extraordinary life through an education that inspires you. That inspiration should both motivate and challenge you to make the world a better place by being of service to it and to each other.

Yes, our founder, St. Ignatius and Father Pedro Arrupe set the bar high, but their spirituality and profound but practical guidance should continue to serve as the model of fortitude and inspiration for service that is at the heart of what you—no we—must do. Today, however, we are especially looking to you, our extraordinary new graduates, to take up this challenge and embrace the leadership required for transforming our neighborhoods, our communities, and our world.

Graduates, we are all so very proud of you, and we know that you will continue to be amazing. As we conclude this Commencement ceremony, I would like to offer one final gesture of respect and gratitude...first graduating class of Arrupe College, I tip my hat to you—congratulations!

Congratulations, graduates!

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Induction Ceremony

Remarks by Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, at the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Induction Ceremony

April 23, 2017

Thank you, Father Katsouros. And, good afternoon. I am delighted to join you at today’s event inducting 28 Arrupe College students as the newest members of Phi Theta Kappa international honor society.

It is very fitting that this afternoon’s event is taking place during Loyola’s Weekend of Excellence, an annual event which celebrates the excellence and achievements of all our students. The ideals of Phi Theta Kappa mirror Loyola’s commitment to excellence, the pursuit of knowledge, and service to our world. Many of you have overcome significant challenges—even obstacles—in your pursuit of an associate’s degree at Arrupe College. Yet, you have distinguished yourselves as tenacious and talented scholars and exemplary members of our Loyola community. Nothing will stand in your way. I commend you for all that you have achieved thus far and for your induction as a member of Phi Theta Kappa. As members of this esteemed honor society, I encourage you to continue to be inspired by the education you are receiving—challenge yourself in ways you never dreamed possible. Your education empowers you to live lives of service to each other and to our world, and to become, in the words of Father Pedro Arrupe, “persons for others.” We are excited for you, we are proud of you, and we are confident that you will not only fill the shoes of your classmates in Arrupe College graduating later this summer, but that you will go on to accomplish extraordinary things.

Can I please invite the administrators, faculty, and staff of Arrupe College—and all who are here today—to join me in giving a round of applause to these extraordinary students?

Thank you. And to our honorees, congratulations again!

2017 Climate Change Conference

Remarks by Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, at the 4th Annual Climate Change Conference, featuring keynote speaker Mary Robinson

March 16, 2017

Thank you, Nancy (Tuchman), and congratulations to you and everyone at the Institute for Environmental Sustainability, the Gannon Center, and the Baum Family Fund for convening this important conference.

I am delighted to join you at this very special event. This conference highlights our institutional commitment to protecting our environment, raising awareness about the threats to our planet, and inspiring a collective desire to promote climate justice, locally and globally. As one of the seven greenest campuses in the United States, we aspire to walk-the-walk through sustainable building and resource management at Loyola, as well as teach and conduct research on solutions to environmental problems.

This conference provides a unique opportunity to explore the many facets of climate change, including the science, ethics, economics, technology, and human justice components. As Pope Francis detailed in his Laudato Si, or “Praise Be To You” encyclical in May 2015, there is an inseparable bond between the concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and inner peace. The Pope has called on all of us to be actively engaged in promoting justice, working together to solve the interconnected societal and environmental crises that plague our world and our communities. The turnout for tonight’s event is a tremendous showing of support for that shared commitment.

While there is much still to learn, research, and debate about climate change, we know and have experienced that our planet is warming because of human activity, affecting the Earth from the North Pole to the South Pole and, indeed, our own backyards. We have seen record-breaking hurricanes on the South and East Coasts, massive droughts and wildfires in the West followed by unprecedented flooding, and we have experienced longer summers as well as polar jet streams in winter in Chicago. Climate change is a driver of food and water insecurity, which disproportionately affects the most poor and vulnerable members of our society. We also know that reducing our energy use and consumption of goods not only protects the environment, but strengthens our communities, reduces inequality, and ensures that future generations have clean air, water, and soil for a healthy life. 

These are issues that all of us at Loyola are passionate about addressing in real and lasting ways. Our Loyola climate action plan commits us to innovative steps toward carbon neutrality by 2025 and to provide resources and experiences to our students so that they are climate literate in whatever field they choose to study here. This past January, Loyola was presented with the 2016 Climate Leadership Award by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and Solution Generation. This award recognizes the American Catholic higher education institution that is taking the lead on climate change nationally with specific mention given to our focus on environmental justice both in and beyond the classroom for the benefit of our neighbors, our community, and the next generation. We were honored to have been singled out for our commitment—and the commitment of our students—to furthering climate justice. 

But enough about Loyola.

It is my honor to introduce this evening’s keynote speaker, who, perhaps more than anyone, knows that climate justice is human justice.

Mary Robinson, the first woman president of Ireland, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and founder and president of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, has spent most of her life as a human rights advocate. She received her education at the University of Dublin (Trinity College), King’s Inns Dublin, and Harvard Law School—to which she won a fellowship.

As an academic, legislator, and barrister, she sought to use law as an instrument for social change, arguing landmark cases before the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court in Luxembourg, as well as in the Irish courts. She also served on expert European Community and Irish parliamentary committees.

A recipient of numerous honors and awards throughout the world, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, President Robinson is a member of the Elders, the former Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, and a member of the Club of Madrid. In 2004, she received Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award for her work in promoting human rights.

President Robinson serves on several boards including the European Climate Foundation and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and the American Philosophical Society. She now serves as President of the Mary Robinson Foundation: Climate Justice. Between 2013 and 2014, she was the UN Secretary-General Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa. From 2014 to 2015 she was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change. And in May 2016, the UN Secretary-General appointed President Robinson as a Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate, a position she continues to hold today.

We are delighted to welcome President Robinson to our campus on the eve of the Feast of St. Patrick, and to together participate in the “wearing of the green” on behalf of climate justice. 

Please join me in welcoming President Mary Robinson.

Thank you. 

First Friday Club Lunch

At the event, Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, addressed the topic "Is there a changing Catholic identity in Catholic universities today?"

February 3, 2017

Thank you, Rich, for your warm introduction. My thanks as well to Father John Cusick and Dr. Brian Schmisek, Director of Loyola’s Institute for Pastoral Studies, for the invitation to join you all this afternoon.

For my talk today, I was at first asked to address the topic “Is a Catholic college education outdated in modern society?” I had prepared an extraordinarily short set of remarks that said: No, such an education is certainly not outdated and is arguably more relevant now than ever before. Thank you.

The revised title of my remarks, “Where is the value of higher education in these changing times?” is a question that deserves a more detailed response and is vital to a myriad of discussions today by students and parents as well as communities and policy makers. It is important to note that the very wording of this question—which was posed to me-- belies a change in how we think about education, and specifically, higher education. For as long as most of us remember, there has been a universally-accepted belief in the inherent value of higher education- of a college degree. This belief culminated in the founding of the land grant universities in the midst of the Civil War; produced the G.I. Bill after World War II; and created Pell Grants through the Higher Education Act of 1965 during the Civil Rights movement. In the last 10 to 15 years, however, this unquestioned belief in the value and purpose of post-secondary education has been replaced with skepticism and rising criticism. It is manifest culturally and at both the federal and state levels by the question “Where is the value?” Are students learning? What are they learning and can they get a job? Are Universities being good citizens, contributing to and providing our communities with needed services and able to bridge the divide between academic inquiry and positive change to society be it in health care, business, education, sustainability or other areas? These questions presuppose that the value is diminished, or indeed, may be missing altogether. It is a question that all of us in higher education are being asked by students, parents, corporations, foundations and other prospective donors, and most vocally, by our elected officials. If you will allow me, I will start by sharing some thoughts on the very real challenges facing higher education that are the backdrop to this question about the value proposition.

Starting about 15 years ago, Members of Congress and the general public began to express concerns regarding the rising cost of higher education, escalating tuitions, the return on investment in financial aid programs like the Pell Grants and Work-Study, and increases in student loan debt. These concerns have led government and state entities, as well as individual students and families, to question if a college education is, in fact, worth the financial investment.

At any institution, whether public, private, or 4 year or community college, the single greatest cost is salary and benefits. At Loyola, our second largest cost is our own institutional financial aid which makes up approximately 20% of our budget. We provide more than $130 million in university sourced financial assistance to our students every year, and we work closely with students to help them access the maximum amount in federal aid and state aid. 

In my university inauguration remarks last November, I underscored the urgency to address the financial challenges facing Loyola and all institutions of higher education. I told our community that we cannot continue to rely on raising tuition rates as the principal source of funding our increases in expenses. As I said then, “This business model, along with the use of tuition discounting, is being attacked by those who have historically been strong supporters of higher education. Whether our students are being prepared to succeed in the global real world, student loan amounts that are strangling new graduates, access to education being limited to those who can afford it, a culture of tradition refusing to innovate…fairly or unfairly, deserved or inaccurate, these types of criticisms are facing us every day and need to serve as a wake-up call to all of us.” Higher education is a labor-intensive service industry that relies upon engaging talented faculty and researchers to provide a world-class education. In the new reality of the 21st century, higher education also provides students with counseling services related to academics, financial aid, financial literacy, career development, health and wellness, safety and security, and much more. These types of counseling and support services are vitally important to student success and to helping students succeed and persist through to graduation. For those of us at Loyola and many other institutions, that is our primary goal --student success and graduation. So therein lies the tension. How can we address the concerns about expenses and broaden access while at the same time deliver an excellent education and prepare students not only for their future careers and but also to be engaged citizens and in our case, engaged citizens in the service of others? How can we balance the requirements of careful fiscal stewardship with our mandate at Loyola to change the world?

I recently read a Chronicle of Higher Education article written by Jeffrey Selingo which concluded with this observation: “American higher-education institutions are under enormous strain.” That seems like an understatement. But there are a few ways to react and we are witnessing all of them. Denial, intransigence, reactionary budget cuts with short term results and long term implications and finally strategic evaluation coupled with change and innovation. So where are we? 

At Loyola, beginning late this fall with a process that will last for the next 9-12 months, we launched a comprehensive review of our operational and fiscal priorities to ensure alignment with our mission, strategic plan and desired, measurable outcomes across every aspect of the university. Our multi-year financial planning and modeling will produce three-year rolling budgets clearly tying our outcome metrics with our resource allocation and prioritization. Unlike many colleges and universities, we are very fortunate to be fiscally healthy enabling us to both plan and have the flexibility to modify our business model. This is all about preparing for a future where adaptability and change leadership will be imperative.

But, getting an organization to move away from “we have always done it this way” to embracing the “different”, where balancing tradition and innovation is the foundation for the education we provide, where our mission goes far beyond the classroom in our service to others is hard and is a long term process. So why now, why this sense of urgency? If we do not chart our own destiny, the course will be set for us. There is an ever-increasing threat of legislation and regulation to address many of these issues. But these often result in piecemeal changes that often lead to unintended consequences. While I never like to say “I told you so”, more than 10 years ago, I cautioned my other university colleagues that we only needed to look to the health care industry to understand our own trajectory if we refused to listen to the concerns and change the way we conducted ourselves. Frankly, if we fail to innovate and acknowledge the evolving role of our educational institutions we will be forced to adapt in a reactionary rather than strategic way through years of incremental, legislated change. I just got back after spending the last week in DC and was able to participate in various small meetings in an attempt to understand the priorities and processes that we can expect in the months ahead. A number of those conversations centered around understanding the focus of discussions taking place in the Congress regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. There is a well-founded sense of heightened concerns about the current system of student financial aid- it is too complex for students and their families to understand and to navigate, higher education institutions are not being held accountable for ensuring students graduate and get jobs, and student loan debt is strangling the new workforce. These concerns are valid and not new. However, one proposal which is especially concerning to many of us relates to combining all loan programs into a single loan and a single grant program. On the surface, this seems to address the very issues I just mentioned. However as currently designed, it is very likely that the total amount of federal support would be reduced which would impact the most financially vulnerable of our students and exacerbate the challenges of enhancing access to education or making affordability the very barrier it was designed to remove Further, this proposal does not appear to take into account campus-based programs which are specifically designed to address the changing financial aid needs and circumstances of individual students – again targeting our most financially vulnerable students. 

The pressure on higher education institutions to justify the value proposition of a college degree is playing out most publically, perhaps, in the “tuition-free” movement that Bernie Sanders began during the 2016 presidential election which has recently by embraced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Governor’s Cuomo’s “Excelsior Scholarship” would ensure free tuition at New York’s public two and four-year institutions to students whose families make up to $125,000 per year. The focus of this program and other such proposals is to make higher education free to students and their parents. Governor Cuomo’s office estimates that the program would cost about $163 million annually once it is fully phased in. It remains to be seen if this proposal is truly financially viable and if it would have the intended outcomes of increased and debt-free college matriculation—and perhaps even more importantly—higher graduation rates and employment.

So is anyone trying something new? Yes. Where is the innovation? One impactful, innovative way that we at Loyola have sought to address the very real and significant financial challenges and access challenges for students who endeavor to earn a college degree is through the creation of our Arrupe College program. Currently in its 2nd year, Arrupe College, named for Father Pedro Arrupe, a well-known and much-beloved former superior general of the Jesuits, serves students in the Chicago metropolitan area who have little or no ability to contribute financially to their college education, are typically the first in their family to attend college and for many reasons may face challenges that would normally impede their ability to finish a degree. This program, enrolling talented and motivated high-need and diverse students, enables these students to graduate with an associate's degree in two years with little to no debt. 97% of the students in Arrupe College are students of color and over 80% of these students are eligible for Pell grants which are Federal grants directed to the neediest students in our country along with MAP- the funding provided through the Illinois Monetary Assistance Program. So why not 100% Pell and MAP eligibility? Over 60 of the College’s 318 students are DACA students – young people who came to this country as children, who consider this to be home but do not have legal citizenship, but who also participated in and registered to be here through the program initiated during the previous presidential administration. Once receiving the associate's degree, these Arrupe College students can enter the workforce or transfer all 60 credits to four-year institutions to complete a major and earn a bachelor's degree. The program is new but to date has been extraordinarily successful in matriculating students from throughout the Chicago area and maintaining retention rates in excess of 80%.

I could continue well past dinnertime tonight discussing the divergent challenges facing all of us in higher education as well as the innovative programs that are being developed to take these challenges and turn them into opportunities. The list is long and the solutions are not simple or easy. But the underlying question remains: Where is the value in higher education today? 

I suspect that many people in this room would agree with the research that shows that on a practical level, a college education remains an excellent investment for students. College graduates average roughly $1 million more in earnings over a lifetime than students with a high school GED, and the unemployment rate for college graduates is less than half that for students with a high school diploma. Mr. Selingo’s Chronicle of Higher Education article posits that “Since the 1980s, the financial returns on a college degree compared to a high school diploma have grown significantly. In 1983 the college wage premium was 42%. Today it surpasses 80%.’ 

So there is, still today, a very real and very tangible value in obtaining a college degree. 

But it is so much more than financial metrics – and that is where I am going to combine both the value question with the original question about Catholic education in today’s society.

For us, at Loyola, our value proposition is not just measured in financial gains but in the very core mission of transformative education that changes lives. We are a Jesuit, Catholic institution with a mission rooted in Ignatian spirituality that dates back more than 450 years. That mission celebrates our diverse community that seeks God in all things. It is a mission that works to expand knowledge in the service of humanity through, learning, justice and faith. It is a mission that seeks to educate and inspire our students to be transformed by their educations to go forth and, as St. Ignatius said, “Set the world on fire.” 

Is there value in that kind of education today, is there value in Catholic Higher Education, in our city, in our communities, in our world?

During the ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica where our own Cardinal Cupich was elevated, the Holy Father re-affirmed His call for our diverse global community to end what He called an “epidemic of animosity and violence.” The Holy Father went on to say that this epidemic has a disproportionate impact on the most defenseless “because their voice is weak and silenced by [a] pathology of indifference.” This epidemic of animosity and violence has taken root here in our own city, with devastating consequences. 

Ignorance, apathy and indifference are often the enablers behind many of the acts of injustice that we witness today. For us in Catholic higher education, it is through our faith tradition and our commitment to academic excellence that we prepare students for lives of engagement with and service to one another. It is an education that empowers the defenseless; it seizes ignorance, apathy and indifference; and it becomes part of the soul, the very being of our students driving them to be agents of positive change locally and indeed globally. We deliver an engaged pedagogy rooted in a commitment not just to educate but to inspire hearts and minds to make the world a better place by being of service. Martin Luther King, Jr’s words that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” are so relevant today. At our heart, at our very being, we commit ourselves to work as societal change agents, engaging with the world in all of its grit and glory. We want to inspire our students and each other to reach deep within, risk discomfort, confront ambiguities, and take on the difficult and divisive issues impacting our world. Research institutions like Loyola are seen as the catalysts for breaking the cycle of poverty through education; the leaders of our political and governmental systems by modeling respectful dialogue and civil discourse; and the innovators developing breakthroughs in translational medical research to address health care disparities, environmental sustainability and more. 

At the end of the day, the true value of our education is not measured solely in dollars and cents, it is manifest in who our alumni become and how they apply their educations in service to others. We endeavor to train doctors and nurses who are committed to the dignity of every person. Lawyers who seek justice on behalf of their clients. Corporate executives rooted in ethical, values-based leadership. Social workers with empathy, and teachers who work to ensure that each student reaches his or her greatest human potential. Catholic education has also provided the foundation for many of our local and state government representatives to serve our communities. Knowing this should help give you hope, sustain your faith in our democracy, and raise your expectation for positive sustainable change. 

There is much work to be done to ensure that higher education remains accessible and affordable to a diverse community of talented young women and men, including students who speak a language other than English at home. All of us in higher education need to do a better job of recruiting and retaining a greater diversity of students. At Loyola, we have done a better job of recruiting students of color then we have of retaining them and helping them graduate. We must understand how we are failing not only these young women and men, but also all of our students who drop out often with significant loan debt and limited opportunities for gainful employment. It is time to change this narrative and the outcome. Access to education is a start, but it is not enough. These talented students need and deserve the financial resources, academic support, and engagement of our entire university community to help them persist to graduation, for their benefit and for our collective futures. All our young people who desire a college education, deserve a college education. They deserve to walk across the stage at Commencement knowing the diploma in their hands opens up possibilities many only dreamed about. Shaking the hands of each and every graduate and joining them in celebration is clearly one of the best and most profound parts of my job. That experience brings home the value of what we do--in each face and through every tear of joy and proud smile.

At this time in our history and in this place in our country, I believe that it is up to us as educators, as people of faith, and as members of this shared community to recommit ourselves each day to the important work of educating and working on behalf of the next generation. It is our shared mission in higher education and for all of us gathered here today. I hope you will agree that there is profound value in doing so.

Thank you.

Loyola University Chicago Faculty Convocation

Remarks by Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, at Faculty Convocation 2016

September 2016

Good afternoon—and welcome to our new faculty and those returning with us for their second year, 22nd year, 42nd year and beyond. Along with our students, you are the heartbeat and soul of our great institution. Thank you for saying yesyes for giving of yourself to be part of this institution, yes for challenging each of us to be our best and bring our best every day, and yes to working together to define what is really possible as we strive to guide Loyola University Chicago to be universally seen as a leader in higher education and a model to be emulated not only in the U.S. but around the world.

Throughout our history, Loyolans have always shown not just resilience but an embracing of change. At each juncture, it has resulted in dynamic transformation. Throughout the tenure of Father Garanzini, and most recently Provost Pelissero, this campus community experienced tremendous growth not only in physical assets but also students, staff, faculty, programs and community engagement. So many of you in this room were key leaders in driving this growth that continues.

Going forward, our strategic plan, Plan 2020: Building a More Just, Humane, and Sustainable World, serves as the blueprint for us to continue to chart the course of our future.

All of us are so privileged, so blessed that we are able to come to our jobs each day in a profession that exposes us to new ideas and challenges us to think creatively... at an institution where we interact with enthusiastic students and our colleagues, each with common goals of finding ways to make positive changes in the world. But the growth we have experienced, along with the pressures being felt throughout higher education as well as in health care also present us with very serious challenges that we must face together. We have been talking about not being able to do things the way we always have and the challenge to find new ways to support our need to expand knowledge. The transformative education experienced by our students should not depend upon nor should it be limited to only those with the financial means to access it, and it is up to us to find ways to make that possible, and do all of this in a fiscally responsible, sustainable way.

We have had our share of growing pains, many of these centered on our desire to be ONE University no matter where our physical location. But I am convinced we have the tools we need, and, I believe the willingness to make it happen. Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to meet many people from a variety of constituencies both on and off our different campuses. I made a promise these first few months during those visits that God gave me two eyes, two ears and one mouth which I intended to use in proportion. I have heard much—to those of you that I have spent time with, thank you for your candor, your input, and for sharing your experience and passion with me. To those of you that I have not yet met, but with whom I expect to spend time in the next few weeks, I look forward to our time together. During my various interactions thus far I received many questions, but two came up repeatedly. The first was: what do I see as the key challenges and my role in these and the second, do I see the mission of the university changing now that we have a lay president.

While I can speak on both of those questions for a considerable amount of time (and I will do so in the months ahead), I would like to limit my remarks today since our focus is on you, the faculty and celebrating your work and the start of the new academic year. 

In regards to our key challenges—I have mentioned a few that directly touch Loyola, higher education and the health care industry and will speak more extensively on all of these throughout the year. However, the way I see my role in addressing these challenges is that I am here to move the rocks out of the way then get out of the way myself so as not to impede progress. There are many of these rocks….sometimes they are very practical. For those of you who are new to Loyola, and I count myself among that group, our process of onboarding can use some….let’s just say refinement. Having a working phone, voice mail, computer, and a functioning office chair should not be setting a high bar. But at times, as an administrative team, we have not lived up to this basic standard. We are already hard at work looking at processes so that we can address not only new but reoccurring needs in a timely fashion and strive to get it right the first time. As administrators, our roles are to support you and our students with both the little things and the bigger things. We take this to heart and will continue to improve our support and service to you in many ways.

Sometimes these rocks that need to move revolve around policies and processes—many of which have just evolved over time as a way of doing business. We heard from our (Lakeside) Provost, Dr.Pelissero, that we are changing the way we support new program initiatives and faculty innovation. (You have also heard from our HSD Provost, Dr. Callahan, that we will be supporting an enhanced research agenda and innovation in program development with our health science division). That is part of a larger project to change the way we develop our budgeting in a more transparent, collaborative manner and also administer it in a way that is broadly understood and supported by research, data, outcomes assessment and the strategic plan. It is about giving people authority to make decisions but holding them accountable through agreed upon goals and metrics. These changes will be implemented and adjusted throughout the year and are definitely a work in progress.

We recognize that many of our financial needs center around student scholarships and financial aid, academic programs, student support services and new initiatives so we will be focusing funding in these key areas. However, finding new sources of revenue through external support, grants, (translational research initiatives developed at the CTRE) partnerships and yes, fundraising and growing the endowment are paramount to our success. In some of these areas, we are already seeing good progress, but in most of these, we have considerable work to do but many untapped opportunities. Enhancing our external financial support is one area in particular that will continue to evolve over years not months and you will frequently hear more and be engaged in all of it in the months ahead. This is truly going to be a team effort. 

The second question I have been asked, as I mentioned earlier, centers on our mission. What if anything will change under lay leadership? Throughout the search process and in my experience thus far meeting many people, there is no denying that being a University so firmly grounded in the Jesuit, Catholic mission is a key component and value essential to our faculty, staff and students, no matter their faith tradition or indeed if they subscribe to no particular faith.

It is the notion of that something more, the challenge that sums up Ignatian spirituality to find God in all things –whether that be the people we meet or the circumstances we find ourselves in that makes Loyola University, that makes us different. And for those very reasons that it has brought all of you here, it is why I am here as well. So many higher education institutions claim to challenge their students to think critically, to undertake service projects, to ground their undergraduate education in the liberal arts, and to engage in research with practical outcomes. But these are often distinct events. Basically, when each is done, you check the corresponding box and move on.

But, that is not usthat is not what we must do. When we speak of being a Jesuit institution rooted in and inspired by Ignatian Spirituality, we do not talk about distinct events. We are talking about how we engage with the world. This means we do not have the option to run away from the world or flee from the difficult situations or conversations. We are called upon to engage, to participate, to challenge. This is a very high bar, and frankly, one which at its core can be very difficult. But, as one Jesuit reminded me recently, if it was easy, everyone would do and no one would do it. Sounds like a Jesuit, right?

But these are not ideas or ideals suitable just for the classroom. These are ideals that each of us must practice and model for our community both here at Loyola with each other and in our interactions with our students and surrounding communities, however that is defined. We must challenge each other and have our conversations, even our debates, to be living conversations that go beyond and transcend any particular time or space. And while supporting the need for social action, we must make certain that we take the time and space to reflect carefully upon those actions. 

This is not a new discussion. This community articulated the notion of respecting the conversation last year. No one needs to be reminded that we are part of a society where gravitating to the extreme opposites on an issue seems to be more of the norm, but participating in civil discourse to find common understanding and to work toward a solution seems to be more elusive. This is our opportunity to make a difference. Here again, our values, our mission, our Jesuit identity, provides us with guidance and a very difficult challenge.

Recently, while having a discussion with one of our Jesuit colleagues about how do we do this, he reminded me that when in doubt, go back to the beginning, go back to the Spiritual Exercises. Thankfully he gave me a bit more guidance or I might still be stumbling around. Our mission, the foundation for all we do, must continue to be kept at the forefront and be brought to life today and every day. Supporting that, I share with you some thoughts that emanate from Annotation 22 from the Spiritual Exercises. I have found this reflection to be very helpful and thought-provoking and I hope you do as well. Keep in mind that when Ignatius gave this guidance, it was in a period of war and great tumult, at a time when there was great conflict between those promoting radical change versus those proponents of rigid continuity. Sound familiar?

We ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it. Further, if we cannot interpret it favorably, one should ask the other how the other means it. If that meaning is wrong, one should correct the person with love: and if that is not enough, one should search out every appropriate means through which, by understanding the statement in a good way, it may be saved.

Reflecting on this for me made it very clear that Ignatius’ words are certainly very difficult to put into practice. But it challenges us to put a good interpretation on what another says, even if their heartfelt passion is directly at odds with our own. But again, this is what makes Loyola different. This mission and all of its challenges are what enable us to find God in all things. Yes, it is difficult, yes it can be uncomfortable. But, recall, if it was easy, everyone would do and no one would do it.

In closing, once again I must say welcome to everyone, new and returning alike. Thank you for all you do each and every day. I look forward to working together with you.

Loyola University Chicago New Student Convocation

August 26, 2016

New students, welcome to Loyola!  This is an important day, one which you will remember the rest of your lives. It is the beginning of your Loyola Experience and signals the beginning of a major new stage in your life. In a real sense for our new freshmen, much of what has come before–your 12 years of schooling and the support and guidance of family and friends–is a prelude to what is now about to happen. You are moving into a new and more independent phase of life. You will determine how you spend your time, who you get to know, what courses you take, how much focus and dedication you will bring to your classes, and how you will balance your academic pursuits with social, athletic and other interests.  If you are late to class…if you don’t have any clean socks to wear…or if you realize at midnight that you forgot to eat dinner and the dining halls are now closed…you will be reminded that, yes, you are now more independent.  

But you are not alone…..far from it.  You will build community with many new people, people from backgrounds and with experiences quite different than your own, which will enrich your college experience beyond measure.  You will be able to experiment with new courses and explore new interests, eventually selecting a field of study.  You will pursue that field and make it your own, and contribute to the world that has already provided you with so much and made it possible for you to be here. 

At Loyola University, we will do all that we can in our classrooms, on our quads, in our research labs, and on our immersion trips to help you discover who you are and to recognize all the unique talents and gifts you have been blessed with that will prepare you for your career and reaching your life’s greatest potential. 

As we have just heard, you come from many states and many different countries outside the United States. Almost 40% of you have been raised Catholic, while the other 60% identify with over 37 different faith traditions, including Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Eastern Orthodox. Almost 11 percent of you are the first generation in your family to attend college. And students of diverse ethnic backgrounds comprise 40 percent of the class. This confluence of diversity is what makes Loyola such a special place for you to learn and grow, and which we all embrace as our community. 

You have already achieved a great deal academically, and have set the bar high. Among you are an impressive number of National Merit finalists and Presidential Achievement Scholars and more than 80 percent of you won merit scholarships for academic achievement. Some of you have already determined your choice of profession and course of study, but many others want to be able to explore the broad range of study areas and discover your areas of passion and career. 

At Loyola, we are prepared to help you excel in the years ahead by challenging you to think critically about the world, and to be inspired to make the world a better place by being of service to it, and most especially, to the vulnerable and marginalized members of our global community.  We endeavor for you to become men and women who are transformed by the education and opportunities here at Loyola to make a difference in the world. 

Who we are as a university community is reflected in the Loyola University seal. The major elements of the seal are taken from the family crest of the Loyola family, a 15th century Spanish family of nobility whose son, St. Ignatius Loyola, is our namesake and the founder of the Jesuit Order. He and his college companions founded the Society of Jesus more than 450 years ago. On our crest, you see the date of the founding, 1870, our motto and our colors. But, it also includes an important symbol taken directly from the Loyola family crest. I am referring to the two wolves gathered around a kettle that is suspended from a chain. We have a sculpture in front of the Norville Center of these two wolves which reminds us and inspires us as members of this Loyola community.  

The image was selected by the 15th century Loyola family to convey ABUNDANCE-–the abundance of their farmlands in the Basque region of Spain—and the GENEROSITY that this abundance made possible. Even the name “Loyola”, has been traced in the Basque language to words indicating “abundance” or “profusion,” a reference no doubt to the rich soil found in this part of Spain. 

Rich soil and good stewardship provided the Loyola family with enough for themselves and their household, with plenty left over for others—for the people and the animals that lived within and even beyond the castle walls. For us here at Loyola University in the 21st century, our seal is an expression of our commitment and pledge that we will forever be men and women who gratefully receive what God has given us and who share these gifts with the world around us. 

After you have spent your years among us, and graduate, we hope you will think of Loyola as a community that nourished you and challenged you, a community that fed you and encouraged you to move beyond your present level of generosity to a deeper and more selfless one.        

Beginning today, may Loyola be a place where you always find community and connection, where you learn and grow, and where you are inspired to go forth and set the world on fire. 

We welcome you, and we embrace you with open arms.  May today be the start of a fantastic year ahead.

State of the University Address - Fall 2015

Interim President John P. Pelissero, PhD, addressed students, faculty, and staff at his first State of the University addresses on September 30 and October 1. To view the Lake Shore Campus address, see the video above. Below, please find highlights from his remarks.

To view Dr. Pelissero's State of the University PowerPoint presentation, click here.

Plan 2020 — The University unveiled its new strategic plan this fall, Plan 2020: Building a More Just, Humane, and Sustainable World. The plan prioritizes student access and success, advancing social justice through faculty development, collaborating across disciplines to address societal challenges, and engaging local and global societal challenges through partnerships. During his addresses, Dr. Pelissero outlined the strategies that are designed to help us reach our plan goals.

New Leaders — Since the spring, many leadership appointments have occurred, including Margaret Faut Callahan (BSN ’74), Health Sciences Division provost; Kevin Stevens, PhD (BA ’79), dean of the Quinlan School of Business; and Terri Pigott, PhD, dean of the School of Education. Father Garanzini, who stepped down as president last spring, will continue his service to Loyola as Chancellor.

Academic AdditionsArrupe College of Loyola University Chicago welcomed nearly 160 students this fall, 96 percent of whom are students of color. The new engineering science program also launched this fall and includes 35 freshmen. The program is expected to double in enrollment next year.

Enrollment and Outcomes — Student enrollment is at an all-time high with 16,077 students for the 2015–2016 academic year, 10,719 of which are undergraduate students. The freshman retention rate has improved (86 percent–best in three years), and the transfer retention rate is at its highest in 25 years (80 percent). Dr. Pelissero also provided background on past and current enrollment trends, the University’s improved graduation rates, and student outcomes data.

Facilities Updates — The John and Kathy Schreiber Center, home to the Quinlan School of Business, opened at the Water Tower Campus in August. Construction of the Center for Translational Research and Education on the Health Sciences Campus will be completed this fall and full occupancy of the research labs and centers will occur in spring 2016. Dr. Pelissero also highlighted the University’s new partnership with Atira Hotels, who will manage the Hampton Inn Chicago North/Loyola Station hotel when it opens on the Lake Shore Campus in October 2016.

Recognition and Accolades — For the first time, Loyola is ranked among the top 100 universities by U.S. News and World Report (#99). The University continues to receive recognition across departments and initiatives, including most recently, the Minority Access Diversity Award. The Loyola Phoenix was recognized by The Society of Professional Journalists as the best non-daily student newspaper in the country. And, last spring, the University earned its reaccreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Athletics Update — Dr. Pelissero recognized the forward movement of the University’s athletics program, highlighting the men’s volleyball team’s second consecutive national championship, the men’s basketball team’s CBI championship, the academic success of the men’s and women’s soccer teams, and more.

Financial Stability — The University continues to be financially strong. Dr. Pelissero also announced that the Board of Trustees has approved a merit pool for faculty and staff raises in 2016.

Following his remarks, Dr. Pelissero also addressed questions on topics related to student post-graduation employment, the University’s marketing and advertising, and state/federal funding for higher education.

Questions regarding the addresses can be directed to Lorraine Fitzgerald at lsnyde2@luc.edu or 312.915.6400.