Loyola University Chicago

Presidential Search

Message from the Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, Named Loyola’s 24th President

Dear Members of the Loyola Community,

It is my privilege to announce that Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, has been elected by the Board of Trustees to serve as the 24th president of Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Rooney was introduced and welcomed to the campus community earlier today at an event held in the Mundelein Auditorium. She is the first lay president in Loyola’s 146-year history, and she will officially join the University on August 1.

Our goal throughout the search process was to find the person best suited to build on Loyola’s recent growth and enable the University to thrive in an emerging environment in higher education that is increasingly challenging. Dr. Rooney possesses many strengths that make her uniquely qualified to lead Loyola, including her very diverse experience base, her highly developed leadership skills, her outstanding personal attributes, and her commitment to both her Catholic faith and our mission.

Dr. Rooney is, first and foremost, a lifelong educator, and her educational philosophy is student-centered. In addition, Dr. Rooney has an extensive record of results-oriented leadership in the public, private, health care, and higher education sectors. The impact she has made in every position she has held is evident, and is perhaps best exemplified by being nominated twice by the Obama Administration to serve our country in senior positions within the U.S. Department of Defense.

After her confirmation by the U.S. Senate in May 2011, Dr. Rooney served as the senior advisor to the secretary of defense on a broad portfolio encompassing recruitment, career development, health care, readiness, pay, and benefits for the men and women serving our country along with their families. In September 2013, she was again called to serve by the Obama Administration and asked to accept the nomination for under secretary of the Navy, the second-highest position in the department. She was twice voted out of committee favorably, but she then requested that her nomination be withdrawn after inactivity by the U.S. Senate. For her service to our country, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta awarded Dr. Rooney the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest award given to a civilian by the secretary of defense.

Dr. Rooney’s appointment to the Loyola presidency expands upon her leadership in higher education, as she has served as the president of both Spalding University—a private, Catholic, doctoral-level university in Louisville, Kentucky—and Mount Ida College, a baccalaureate-level college offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in Newton, Massachusetts. She has also spent more than 22 years in the classroom connecting with students and teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Dr. Rooney’s experience in the health care sector will also benefit Loyola, our Health Sciences Division, and our partnership with Trinity Health and the Loyola University Medical Center. At the Department of Defense, Dr. Rooney oversaw several improvements to the delivery of health care services. In her current role as managing director at Huron Consulting Group, she is responsible for developing strategy and advancing a new Federal Government Healthcare Sector consulting practice. She also served for four years on the Board of Trustees—including time as vice chair—at Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare (a Catholic Health Initiatives organization) in Louisville, Kentucky.

Throughout the Presidential Search Committee’s visit with Dr. Rooney, we were impressed by her drive, passion, and energy. Her results-oriented approach, augmented by sound judgment, is responsible for her many significant accomplishments. She is reasoned, she listens well, and she leans into challenges and problems with a broad perspective that is fact based. The best leaders are those who can make difficult decisions, are highly focused, and have the will to overcome obstacles, but who also are warm, thoughtful, and compassionate. We are fortunate to have found all of these personal attributes in Dr. Rooney.

Dr. Rooney is a champion of Jesuit education. She currently sits on the Board of Trustees of Regis University, our sister Jesuit institution in Denver, Colorado. In her new role, she has the full support of Brian Paulson, S.J., provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus, as well as Archbishop Blase J. Cupich.

Dr. Rooney holds a Bachelor of Science with a finance concentration from Boston University School of Management, a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School, a Master of Laws in taxation from Boston University School of Law, and a Doctor of Education in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. Other affiliations include various positions in the legal and business sectors. She is a member of the American Bar Association and three state bar associations, and has served as a board member with a variety of organizations including the Board of Directors of the Catholic Education Foundation.

You can read Dr. Rooney’s full curriculum vitae and biography and watch a replay of today’s announcement online at LUC.edu/presidentialsearch

I want to thank the Presidential Search Committee, which included representatives from our faculty, student, staff, trustee, and Jesuit communities. Conducting a search of this magnitude is a major commitment, and I thank them for their time, professionalism, discretion, and commitment to finding the right leader for Loyola.  

Many individuals have helped guide Loyola during this year of leadership transition. I would especially like to recognize John P. Pelissero, PhD, for his service and stewardship over the last year as interim president. Dr. Pelissero will return to his role as provost once Dr. Rooney arrives.

I would also like to express my gratitude to Isaacson, Miller—our executive search firm partner—for their assistance, Senior Vice President for Administrative Services Tom Kelly for his tireless work, Father Garanzini, chancellor, for his guidance and ongoing support, and members of the Jesuit community and my fellow trustees for their leadership through the selection process.

Lastly, I want to thank you, the Loyola community, for your patience and participation throughout this search. Dr. Rooney is committed to social justice, she embraces education in the Catholic intellectual tradition, and her vision will move this University forward. We are fortunate to have her, and I hope you are all as excited as I am to welcome Dr. Rooney to our community.



Bob Parkinson (BBA ’73, MBA ’75)
Chairman, Board of Trustees
Chair, Presidential Search Committee