Chicago’s 25 Most Powerful Women 2019: Jo Ann Rooney

Chicago's 25 Most Powerful Women 2018: Jo Ann RooneyJo Ann Rooney, J.D., L.L.M., Ed.D, is the 24th president and the first lay president of Loyola University Chicago. Under Dr. Rooney’s leadership, Loyola continues to experience growth in undergraduate enrollments and to position itself as a leading institution both in Chicago, the nation and internationally.  

Dr. Rooney is building on Loyola’s legacy of excellence and service to sustain, strengthen, and grow a community of scholars driven by Jesuit values and characterized by relentless curiosity and inquiry, deep care and compassion for others, and the good of the larger society — an academic community grounded in civil discourse and steeped in social justice.

Bringing a broad portfolio of experience in higher education, government, law, and business to the position, Dr. Rooney has focused on consolidating the gains of recent years, strengthening Loyola’s position in areas such as sustainability, business, law, education, and social work and innovations in programs and delivery that anticipate trends in the market and society. She has helped guide the development of Arrupe College, an innovative two-year college on the Loyola campus that has received national acclaim for its educational success with low-income, first-generation college students. Working the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, she advocates on behalf of students and families to keep college affordable and accessible, and has engaged externally to build new and important relationships with religious and civic leadership in Chicago and with philanthropic and programmatic partners across the nation.

She has worked to engage Loyola even more deeply in the city and region in work that shapes the greater good. In keeping with the Jesuit mission of education as a deep stewardship of people and planet—all of God’s creation–she has continued to emphasize Loyola’s national leadership in sustainability, social work, and in science and the humanities. Loyola research drives innovation and breakthroughs. Loyola health sciences professionals provide clinical services and wellness programs to address health inequities and improve lives. Loyola is a lead partner with Cardinal Cupich and the Archdiocese of Chicago’s antiviolence initiatives.

Dr. Rooney previously served as the president of Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, and Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts. President Barack Obama appointed her principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness in the U.S. Department of Defense. She served as senior advisor to the undersecretary of defense comptroller, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, managing recruitment, career development, health care, readiness, pay, and benefits for approximately 2.7 million active-duty personnel and their families.

In 2012, Dr. Rooney received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest award given to a civilian by the secretary of defense.

Her results-oriented approach, augmented by sound judgment, is responsible for her many significant accomplishments. She is reasoned, she listens well, and she leans into challenges and problems with a broad and fact-based perspective. She currently sits on the Board of Trustees of Regis University, our sister Jesuit institution in Denver, Colorado. 

Dr. Rooney holds a Bachelor of Science with a finance concentration from Boston University School of Management, a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School, a Master of Laws in taxation from Boston University School of Law, and a Doctor of Education in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.

Other affiliations include various positions in the legal and business sectors. She is a member of the American Bar Association and three state bar associations, and has served as a board member with a variety of organizations including the Board of Directors of the Catholic Education Foundation.

See our complete list: Chicago’s 25 Most Powerful Women 2019