"The expectation that the Jesuits have handed us all is that adaptation is normal."
~Dr. Jo Ann Rooney
President of Loyola University Chicago
CHICAGO — Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, president of Loyola University Chicago, was the headliner for the Jesuit Alumni and Friends Network of Chicago event on Wednesday, April 25. Rooney spoke about the future of Jesuit higher education and Loyola's place at the forefront of innovation.
"The expectation that the Jesuits have handed us all is that adaptation is normal," she said. "It drives the evolution of Jesuit ministries, including education, from the beginning, up to today, and must be a part of how we look at the future."
One of those adaptations is Arrupe College, a two-year college of Loyola that continues the Jesuit tradition of offering a rigorous liberal arts education to a diverse population, many of whom are the first in their family to pursue higher education. It was founded in 2015 and graduated its first class in 2017.
"We discovered in our outreach to lower-income students of color, who were often the first in their families to attend college, that they faced daunting obstacles to successfully completing a college degree, but it was way beyond finances," Rooney said. "It also included educational and social support needs."
Nationally, only five percent of these students who begin a two-year associate's degree program finish within those two years, and only 28 percent finish within three years. At Arrupe, however, 52 percent of the innagural cohort that began their program in 2015 graduated within two years and 64 percent will graduate within three years, far surpassing the national average.
"While we know we have much more work to go, those are impressive numbers and we are confident those will continue to rise," Rooney said. "Arrupe is designed to educate students in a closely supportive community in which faculty and staff focus their attention on the needs of the whole person. Embracing this idea of caring for the whole student means, frankly, that we have an intrusive style of advising. We pay very close attention to student progress. We truly accompany these students step by step and side by side throughout their post-secondary experience."
|Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, spoke to a crowd of about 100 in Chicago.
Photos: Steve Donsich