Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney to step down after this school year

Hired in 2016 to replace former president Michael Garanzini, Rooney was Loyola’s first woman and first lay person to serve in the role.

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Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney helps Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt to cut the first piece of birthday cake during her 100th birthday celebration at Damen Student Center, on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019.

Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney helps Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt to cut the first piece of birthday cake during her 100th birthday celebration at Damen Student Center, on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019.

Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

Loyola University Chicago President Jo Ann Rooney announced Monday that she is stepping down at the end of the upcoming school year after six years leading the North Side Jesuit school.

“While this may come as a surprise to some of you, it is the result of deep reflection on my part, some personal issues that warrant more of my attention, and a desire to ensure continuity of leadership once the implementation of our multi-year strategic plan and 8+ year comprehensive fundraising campaign begins,” Rooney said in a statement.

Hired in 2016 to replace former president Fr. Michael Garanzini, Rooney was Loyola’s first woman and first lay person to serve in the role.

Rooney listed among her accomplishments her work to strengthen Loyola’s financial position, her creation of a multi-year strategic plan and diversifying faculty ranks and the student body.

Loyola also saw an enrollment boost during Rooney’s time in Rogers Park, though some students might have been drawn to the school with the men’s basketball program’s NCAA tournament success that turned the university into a nationally recognized brand.

Rooney has had her share of controversy at Loyola, particularly involving the university’s faculty union which has been highly critical of her leadership and their working conditions. The university has also been criticized for its reporting and handling of sexual violence cases against students.

Loyola’s Board of Trustees will meet next month to discuss the next steps for a search process, the university said.

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