May 24, 2016 — Jo Ann Rooney has been appointed as the 24th president of Loyola University Chicago, the university’s first lay leader and the second lay woman president of a U.S. Jesuit college/university (following Linda LeMura of Le Moyne College). Rooney will assume the role on Aug. 1, 2016, with an appointment that runs through 2021. She will succeed John P. Pelissero, who has served as interim president since July 2015, when long-serving president Jesuit Father Michael J. Garanzini stepped down and transitioned to the role of chancellor.
Rooney 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 in Newton, Massachusetts. During her tenure as president of Mount Ida College, she was nominated by the Obama Administration to be the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness in the U.S. Department of Defense. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May 2011.
In 2012, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta awarded Rooney the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest award given to a civilian by the secretary of defense. In September 2013, she was again called to serve by the Obama Administration and asked to accept the nomination for undersecretary of the Navy, the second-highest position in the department. She requested her nomination be withdrawn after inactivity by the U.S. Senate.
“I have been blessed throughout my career with amazing experiences that have shaped and influenced me in numerous ways, but my passion is, and has always been, education,” said Rooney. “Today, higher education is at a crossroads, and I am fully committed to making decisions that will allow us to thrive as an institution and community leader.”
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. She is a member of the American Bar Association and three state bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Education Foundation and as vice chair of Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare in Louisville. She currently sits on the Board of Trustees for Regis University, a Jesuit institution located in Denver.
She joins Loyola from Huron Consulting Group in Chicago, where she is managing director with responsibility for developing strategies to advance Huron Healthcare’s Federal Government Healthcare Sector consulting practice.
“As the leader of one of the premier Jesuit, Catholic institutions in this country — and Loyola’s first lay president — Rooney has the full support of the Society of Jesus in this important mission,” said Jesuit Father Brian G. Paulson, provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus. “Rooney is an accomplished leader and administrator with a passion for educational excellence and access.” [Source: Loyola University Chicago]