On Monday Loyola University Chicago announced Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, formerly of Huron Consulting and the Department of Defense, will be the 24th president of the university.
She will be the first woman, and first non-Jesuit, to serve as president of the Jesuit Catholic university in its 146 year history. Rooney comes to Loyola after previous president Father Michael Garanzini stepped down last summer to act as chancellor of the university (John Pelissero has served as interim president for the last year).
“Education provides a foundation. It is the backbone…behind vibrant, thriving communities, and frankly, an engaging society,” she said at Loyola on Monday. “Education enables individuals to grow, to thrive, and to reach…their greatest potential, whatever that is.”
Most recently Rooney worked at Huron Consulting, where she worked as managing director in the Huron Healthcare practice. Rooney has 25 years experience in education, including serving as president of Spalding University (in Louisville, Kentucky) and Mount Ida College (in Newton, Massachusetts). She has a BS from Boston University, a JD from Suffolk University Law School, a masters in taxation from Boston University, and a doctor of education in higher education management from University of Pennsylvania.
Before her time at Huron, she worked at the Department of Defense, and was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the undersecretary of the Navy. However, that nomination was dropped in 2014 due to congressional opposition, particularly after questioning from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) over chain-of-command in military cases of sexual assault, and on the Navy’s financial matters from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
“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,” said Bob Parkinson, chairman of Loyola’s Board of Trustees in a statement. “We are fortunate to have found all of these personal attributes in Dr. Rooney.”