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Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney Addresses Hiring, Latest Strategic Plan and Campus Reopening

Kayleigh Padar | The PhoenixLoyola President Jo Ann Rooney spoke about the university’s plans to hire at least five administrators as it prepares to welcome its largest first-year class to a fully reopened campus.

Loyola’s President Jo Ann Rooney spoke about the university’s plans to hold off on hiring a permanent provost for two years at a virtual University Senate General Assembly meeting June 15. 

University Senate Chair Sarita Heer said the Senate hosted the event so the community could share concerns and hear directly from Rooney about the university’s plans following former Provost and Chief Academic Officer Norberto Grzywacz’s resignation. The University Senate consists of 33 students, faculty and staff and advises the Office of the President. 

Rooney also spoke about Loyola’s latest strategic plan which will guide decision-making for the next five years and the university’s plans to welcome students back to campus after a unique year. Heer said 466 people registered for the virtual meeting and 334 people attended.

“We hope this is the beginning of a continuing conversation as we all work toward a successful transition of Loyola’s academic leadership and toward the start of an academic year fully on campus,” Heer told The Phoenix.

Rooney said during the June 15 meeting Loyola is in the process of hiring someone to act as the university’s interim provost for the next two years. She said an announcement about who will fill the role should come “within the next week or so.” 

Rooney said hiring a permanent provost would have to wait for at least two years, citing some of the school’s more immediate goals. 

“We have to focus on our return to our fully open campus, our moving of the strategic plan, and ensuring our hiring of leadership … move forward and are successful,” Rooney said. 

Michael Kaufman — who’s worked at Loyola for 35 years in various roles including, dean of Loyola’s School of Law and interim vice provost — is acting as Loyola’s current provost and chief academic officer. Kaufman is the fourth to serve in the role under Rooney since she took office in 2016, The Phoenix reported.

Grzywacz — who served as provost for the past year following the university’s two-year search for a permanent provost — plans to return to a faculty position to “focus on his research and academic interests,” The Phoenix reported. Rooney said she couldn’t share more information about what led to Grzywacz’s resignation because she said it’s university policy not to comment on personnel issues.

Loyola is partnering with The Registry — a company that connects universities to administrators for interim positions — to find candidates for the interim provost position, though it’s also considering current faculty for the role, Rooney said. 

In addition to the interim provost role, Rooney said the university is working to fill four other administrator positions, including vice president of institutional diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), vice president of the division of student development and deans for Loyola’s Law School and Quinlan School of Business. 

“I am very confident with our existing academic leadership in place as well as, whether it’s through the registry or our internal community, that we’ll have someone in the [interim provost] position who’ll represent the university well, represent our interests well, and is very committed to Loyola, our mission and our strategy and next steps forward,” Rooney said. 

The university is also continuing to hire new faculty members “because of the incoming largest freshman class in our history,” Loyola spokesperson Anna Rozenich said. 

Loyola’s plan is built around six guiding principles. The plan was also designed to incorporate Loyola’s six enduring values: cura personalis, extraordinary academics and research, community-centered engagement, global connections and partnerships, operational excellence and care for our world.

Loyola’s Board of Trustees approved the university’s latest strategic plan in June, according to a June 8 email from Rooney. It’s a “living plan” designed to guide the university’s decision-making for the next five years. The plan took just under two years to create and is built around six guiding principles.  

Rooney said the plan is data-driven so its success can be measured. Committees are currently determining processes and metrics to gauge the university’s progress, Rooney’s email said. These committees plan to meet with students, faculty and staff for input on these specifics during fall 2021.

Rooney said in the email administrators will report on how the plan has been implemented when the Board of Trustees meets in December 2021. 

Loyola releases a new strategic plan every five years. Its 2015-20 strategic plan focused on creating “a more just, humane and sustainable world,” The Phoenix reported. As part of that plan, Loyola launched Arrupe College and the engineering science program in 2015. Loyola’s 2009-14 strategic plan led to the launch of the Institute for Environmental Sustainability and a revision of the Core Curriculum.

Loyola’s class of 2025 is the university’s largest first-year class yet.

As Loyola prepares to fully reopen in fall 2021, Rooney said the university will accept its largest first-year class. She said this averaged out Loyola’s overall enrollment after 2020’s first-year class was smaller due to the pandemic. The university is expecting between 2,800 and 2,900 first-year students and 450 transfer students for the upcoming fall semester, Rozenich said.

Since many sophomores have never been to Loyola’s campuses due to the pandemic, the university planned a day of in-person events to “help them adjust to life at Loyola and built excitement around coming to campus,” Rozenich said. 

Second-Year Sunday will take place Aug. 29 and include Loyola traditions tours, the opportunity to walk through the green doors of Cudahy Library, chances to meet with other classmates and university resources, among other things. 

Sophomores will also have access to Welcome Week activities and will receive a wristband for this during move-in or at Second-Year Sunday.

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