Loyola University Chicago

Office of the President


A Note from the President, November 2019

November 18, 2019

Every year, as the days shorten in Chicago, we take time to gather and reflect on the nature of our mission. In November, Ramblers come together in a variety of settings to celebrate and explore our shared Jesuit commitment to finding God in all the varied parts of our Loyola University Chicago community—especially in November’s Ignatian Heritage Month (IHM). As we prepare to mark our institution’s 150th year, we reflect on the impact of our Ignatian legacy in serving others, and the ways our work continues to do good today. I encourage everyone to join in this community reflection, dialogue, and action. Such conversations are integral to our heritage and help ensure that our mission continues to evolve and serve others in the world, especially those on the margins.

We come together here in an educational mission that is distinctive in its approach and powerful in its impact. As part of IHM, you can engage in the Mission Book Club, which will gather on our campuses this month to discuss Paul Mariani’s engaging book, Thirty Days, about the poet’s experiences on a 30-day silent retreat of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. Last week we presented the 2019 Martyrs Award, given annually as part of our celebration of IHM. The award honors a worthy faith-based organization or individual and carries an award of $25,000 in commemoration of the Jesuit university martyrs of El Salvador and in support of our commitment to social justice. This year we were pleased to present the award to the Ignatian Spirituality Project, which offers men and women experiencing homelessness and in recovery from addiction the opportunity to change their lives with a program of retreats and recovery based on the Spiritual Exercises. 

In October, our strategic planning process kicked off on an inspiring note when Freeman A. Hrabowski III, the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and one of the leading voices in higher education, delivered a rousing keynote and Q&A on the challenges facing higher education. In November, we continued our strategic planning campus conversations, with faculty, students, and staff weighing in on our future direction as we set a course for the next 150 years of Loyola.

The search for our new provost  is ongoing; we are hopeful that we will have our provost named by the end of the fall semester.  The search committee reviewed a significant number of highly qualified candidates and conducted interviews with semi-finalist and finalist candidates. They shared feedback from the interviews with me. The committee is made up of 21 members of the Loyola community, including an undergraduate student, a graduate student, faculty, staff, and a dean. Our entire University community, including me, can express its gratitude to each of our search committee members for their hard work and dedication to representing the entire University.

Around our campuses: I welcomed students from across our schools and colleges as new inductees into the Alpha Sigma Nu honorary society.  I got revved up along with other Rambler fans at the annual Basketball Tip-Off Luncheon and had the joy of honoring accomplished students from each of our colleges, schools, and institutes at the annual President’s Medallion ceremony. During the past month I had the opportunity to meet with undergraduate leaders of student government from all four classes at an informal “pizza and salad” gathering. I also mingled with donors, alumni, faculty, and staff at several receptions and other gatherings on all three Chicagoland campuses. We announced the appointment of Elaine Morrato, a public health expert with a diverse background in government, industry, and academia, as the first dean of the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health.

Also in October, we received major accolades for our programs, faculty, and students at the Quinlan School of Business. The Financial Times, in a special report on Responsible Business Education, evaluated “how business schools around the world measure up” on social purpose across research, teaching, student projects, and operations. The Quinlan School of Business was one of only four business schools in the world recognized for excellence in three or more categories. The recognition was a timely tribute to the work of Loyola’s longest serving president, Fr. Raymond Baumhart, S.J., who passed away last month and whose pioneering scholarship on business ethics laid the foundation for Quinlan’s leadership in socially responsible business, best exemplified today in the Baumhart Center for Social Enterprise and Responsibility.

Congratulations to School of Communication professor Elizabeth Coffman, PhD, who received the first-ever Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film for her feature-length documentary about famed writer Flannery O’Connor. A screening of the film was part of our Catholic Literary Imagination conference in September. Medical students and graduate students in the Health Sciences presented nearly 300 poster sessions at our annual St. Albert’s Day Celebration of student research on October 24, where two students were recognized for their presentations and faculty were honored for their teaching and research. In October, our largest number ever of Rambler Battalion ROTC cadets competed in the Army 10-Miler race in Washington, D.C., where cadets had the chance to explore the nation’s capitol and meet with Army senior leaders.  Our four-woman, one-man Ranger Challenge Team took first place two weeks ago at the Task Force Ranger Challenge competition in Marseilles, Illinois, a competition against all Illinois ROTC programs. 

Our women’s soccer team won their second straight Missouri Valley Conference championship title; they defeated second-seeded Illinois State 2-0 on November 10.  The week before, the women’s cross country team secured its first Missouri Valley Conference title in program history with an amazing performance at the MVC finals in Valparaiso, Indiana.  Congratulations to all of our student-athletes, coaches, and training staff.

These activities and honors exemplify the hard work, innovation, and excellence that take place every day in every corner of Loyola. As the month heads into Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, we are grateful to be a part of this mission and the community we strive to foster and advance. We give thanks for our colleagues who share their unique gifts from a multitude of backgrounds. We are excited to collaborate again with Catholic Charities for our Loyola Gives program. Each year this program helps hundreds of families across Chicago obtain winter clothing and other vital necessities. Information on the program and how you can contribute is available at Loyola Gives.

I am thankful to be part of this vibrant and generous community: talented students, committed faculty, and dedicated staff from many backgrounds and faith traditions; Jesuits who enrich our intellectual and spiritual lives; and the supporters, donors, and friends whose shared commitment to our mission enlivens and extends our work. I am immensely grateful for all that you do day in and day out for Loyola and in service of others. I wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.

Go Ramblers! #OnwardLU 


Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD