Loyola University Chicago

Office of the President


A Note from the President, January 2020

January 15, 2020

Dear Loyola Community,

Welcome back to a new semester, a new year, and a new decade at Loyola University Chicago. January 2020 also marks the start of our sesquicentennial year and celebrations. I hope that many of you had an opportunity to refresh and reenergize over the holiday break. I am grateful to staff and dedicated students and faculty on all of our campuses who, due to the nature of their roles, work through these breaks to serve students, faculty, and medical and research functions. Your dedication provides safety and constancy to our community and enables us to smoothly reconnect, engage, and continue our work.

Constancy and commitment to serving others in Chicagoland and beyond has been a hallmark of our University for 150 years. We return to our work and mission in a year in which we commemorate the sesquicentennial of our University's founding. We begin this observation by taking time to honor and contemplate the ongoing work for social justice during the 2020 MLK Celebration at Loyola. This series of events, sponsored by the Executive Council for Diversity and Inclusion, focuses this year on "The Call To Move from Dialogue to Action."

We are pleased to welcome as this year's keynote speaker Jan.21 at the Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses writer, poet, and scholar Clint Smith III, addressing issues of identity and inclusion in education. An interfaith discussion is scheduled for the Lake Shore Campus Jan. 22, and on January 25, David Stovall, professor of African American Studies at University of Illinois Chicago, will hold a Courageous Communities Conversation at the Lake Shore campus focusing on the intersection of race, place, and education. We will livestream the speaker events to the Health Sciences campus to provide flexibility during a week of SSOM exams that coincides with MLK week. I encourage all to attend the presentations and to participate in discussions and multi-faith celebrations. I particularly encourage you to volunteer at one of many opportunities across the city on MLK Service Days on January 20, 23 and 24.

As we head into this historic year, we will share more details of events and activities planned to celebrate the founding of Loyola in Chicago 150 years ago. Ours is a legacy of inspiring hope through education and leadership, of innovative and productive research and academic programs, of access to health care, of civil discourse and social justice grounded in faith. Since our founding in 1870 to serve a burgeoning immigrant population in Chicago, Loyola's urban Jesuit mission has served the lives of generations. Loyola's future and that of the city have always been intertwined. Loyola has been a partner and a catalyst in Chicago's emergence as a global center of commerce, culture, science, religion, and education. As the city has grown, Loyola has matured from commuter school to an international university, and we continue to be called to address issues of justice and equity across fields and disciplines.

University Archives and Special Collections have curated several historical exhibits on key figures in Loyola's history, and this month I look forward to convening of the jury for the prestigious Opus Prize, an international award of $1 million to an entrepreneurial, faith-based organization alleviating human suffering somewhere in the world. Loyola has been chosen as the partner university to the Opus Prize and the jury comprises an impressive array of spiritual and civic leaders. We have received over 20 nominations from a diverse range of nonprofit organizations from around the world to be considered for the prize. We are happy to announce our faculty and staff ambassadors: Udayan Das, Pedro Guerrero, and Teresa Krafcisin. We have also received numerous student applications and will soon finalize selection of the student ambassadors.

In a busy December before the holiday break, I enjoyed being able to join other staff and faculty to prepare breakfast for students during finals week. I visited with students, faculty, families and friends to salute Quinlan undergraduates who completed their degrees in December at the Quinlan Celebration of Achievement. We celebrated the holidays with alumni friends at the annual Alumni Christmas Luncheon, where history professor Robert Bucholz presented a lively Sesquicentennial program on our University's impact on the city and the world. Rambler men's and women's soccer and women's cross-country teams won Missouri Valley Conference championships, and women's volleyball recorded its best season ever. We spent the latter part of 2019 gathering and analyzing input from the fall's Strategic Planning sessions. The strategic plan committee, led by Margaret Callahan, senior vice president for strategy and innovation, will begin drafting planning documents this month, and we will hold a series of focus groups to review the drafts in the spring.

On Feb 1, we will welcome Norberto Grzywacsz as Loyola's new provost. He brings a broad perspective and deep experience to our planning efforts and to the long-term development of our academic and research programs. Dr. Gryzwacz is eager to learn about our institution and meet our people. We are planning receptions at each Chicago campus to introduce him to our remarkable faculty and staff and will share those details soon.

As we look ahead and plan for a dynamic future, we pause, once again, in sorrow and deep grief at the passing of Robert L. Parkinson, Jr., chair of our board of trustees, who died December 19. Next to his family, Bob loved Loyola with all of his heart, and his impact on the entire Loyola community is immeasurable. Our gratitude for all that he has done will only be matched by our inspiration to do more and achieve new audacious goals. We will soon announce details of a campus memorial and Mass so that our community has the opportunity to remember a passionate and compassionate servant leader who inspired all of us and touched so many lives through his work and genuine connections.

The best way to pay tribute to Bob and Loyola supporters around the world is to devote our best energies to our mission of education in the service of social justice. As always, I am grateful for the talents and perspectives each of you brings to a transformative education that serves individuals, families, and communities, and seeks to bring greater good into the world. I wish you a productive and successful semester.


Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD

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