James Prehn, SJ, the vice president and chief of staff in the Office of the President, is expected to transfer to a new role as the socius of the United States Midwestern Province of the Society of Jesus.
Loyola Jesuit Promoted to National Role in the Society of Jesus
James Prehn, SJ, vice president and chief of staff in Loyola’s Office of the President, is expected to leave the university and transfer to a new role March 31. He will serve as the socius, or the right hand of the Provincial Superior of the United States Midwestern Province of the Society of Jesus in the upcoming position, a job similar to the role of Chief of Staff.
The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola, according to Prehn. The Jesuits sponsor Loyola University Chicago, and will continue to do so as long as the university works towards maintaining Jesuit priorities, values and characteristics, including the caring of the mind, body and spirit, Prehn told The Phoenix.
Prehn said many Jesuits live and work on campus, allowing students to become connected with the Jesuit values of the university.
“The Jesuit presence at LUC is composed of the large community of priests, brothers and scholastics who live, work and study here,” Prehn wrote in an email to The Phoenix. “We live in five sub-communities with the main house being Ignatius House at [Lake Shore Campus]. There are two houses for scholastics studying philosophy and theology, a house of mostly graduate students and a house in Oak Park for the Jesuits working at [Health Sciences Campus].”
Prehn moved to the university in 2014 and worked as a rector, someone appointed as the official representative of the Society of Jesus in the university community.
“The Rector is responsible for the care of individual Jesuits missioned to work or study at LUC as well as to care for the well-being of the community as a whole including spiritual and temporal welfare,” Prehn wrote in an email to The Phoenix.
Prehn said he was hired during the tenure of former president Rev. Michael R. Garanzini, SJ.
“I did not have a job at the university until 2016 when I was hired to serve in President Rooney’s cabinet,” Prehn said. “Prior to coming to Loyola, I worked as the Provincial Assistant for Secondary Education and I was Vocation Director for the Midwest Jesuits for a couple years.”
When Garanzini stepped down in 2015, former President Jo Ann Rooney promoted Prehn to vice president and chief of staff, a role which he has held ever since.
Prehn said his current role includes representing the president, speaking with external audiences and heading task forces such as the 150th Anniversary Committee which organizes the Opus Foundation prize, an annual faith-based humanitarian award.
Beyond these, Prehn said he has served on the Strategic Financial Planning Team, the Cabinet, attended meetings of the Board of Trustees, served on search committees, and helped with ad hoc committees.
Prehn’s new role will be similar to his current job duties of representation but in a new office, where he will take assignments from someone new.
Prehn said he got his start in the Jesuit community through a retreat in his junior year of college which was run by a Jesuit. He said he believes a Jesuit education is important because it gives you a grounding in the humanities through your various courses.
“In humanities, no matter what your major is, you have an appreciation for things like history, literature and art,” Prehn said. “They show us what being fully human is about.”
The Office of the President said they are grateful to Prehn for his time at the university, and they are hopeful for the differences he will make in his next role.
“Jim’s demonstrated acumen as chief of staff to the president at Loyola and his tenure as rector of the Loyola Jesuit Community made him the ideal choice for this new assignment,” an announcement to the Loyola community said.
Prehn said his favorite memory from his time at Loyola was when the men’s basketball team made it to the final four in 2018.
Despite taking on this new role, Prehn said he plans to remain living in the Ignatius House, where he has lived for the entirety of his time spent at the university.
Featured image by Aidan Cahill