Loyola University Chicago

Office of the President

A presidential timeline

Twenty-four presidents have guided Loyola University Chicago since its founding in 1870 as St. Ignatius College. Here are some highlights of each administration.

Arnold Damen, S.J.

Founder & 1st President

1870-72 Father Damen founded St. Ignatius College, the predecessor of Loyola University Chicago, on the city’s West Side in 1870. As the school’s first president, he oversaw a faculty of four priests and a student body of 37 young men.

Ferdinand Coosemans, S.J.

2nd President

1872-74 Before coming to Chicago, Father Coosemans served as the president of St. Louis University for three years. The first degree in St. Ignatius College’s history—a master of arts awarded on June 25, 1873—came during his tenure.

John DeBlieck, S.J.

3rd President

1874-77 A philosopher who challenged the status quo, Father DeBlieck was a renowned missionary and three-time university president. During his time in Chicago, he presided over St. Ignatius College’s first graduating class of seven men.

Thomas Miles, S.J.

4th President

1877-80 Father Miles, a member of a prominent Kentucky family, had a short but distinguished career in Chicago. Among his highlights: creating the St. Cecilia Choral Society and introducing a scientific course leading to a bachelor of science degree.

Thomas O’Neil, S.J.

5th President

1880-84 A gifted administrator, Father O’Neil increased enrollment by more than 30 percent during his tenure—from 203 to 265 students. After his stint in Chicago, he returned to Missouri to train new Jesuits and serve as a seminary rector.

Joseph Zealand, S.J.

6th President

1884-87 As a young Jesuit, he traveled with Father Damen—the founder of St. Ignatius College—on a far-reaching missionary tour. In Chicago, he helped drive the college’s enrollment above 300 for the first time.

Edward Higgins, S.J.

7th President

1887-91 Father Higgins had a storied career as an educator and administrator before coming to Chicago. At St. Ignatius, he started the athletic association and helped expand the school’s library to more than 5,000 volumes.

Thomas Fitzgerald, S.J.

8th President

1891-94 He left Ireland with his family as a young boy and settled in Chicago, eventually joining Father Damen’s Holy Family Parish. During his time at St. Ignatius, the college established a scientific academy and started a camera club.

James Hoeffer, S.J.

9th President

1894-98 An enthusiastic administrator—and a huge proponent of rallying graduates around their alma mater—Father Hoeffer launched the school’s alumni association. In 1895, he oversaw the school’s silver jubilee celebration.

John Pahls, S.J.

10th President

1898-1900 Father Pahls joined the Society of Jesus after becoming disenchanted with his career in business. Although only at St. Ignatius College for two years, he was a conscientious administrator and leader.

Henry Dumbach, S.J.

11th President

1900-08 He was a talented student from a young age and entered the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Stanislaus at 17. Father Dumbach formed the College of Arts & Sciences and purchased 19 acres of land in Rogers Park that would become the Lake Shore Campus.

Alexander Burrowes, S.J.

12th President

1908-12 Father Burrowes opened the college’s first professional schools, the School of Law and the School of Medicine. One year after taking office, he acquired a new state charter that officially turned St. Ignatius College into Loyola University on October 23, 1909.

John Mathery, S.J.

13th President

1912-15 After immigrating from France, Father Mathery joined the Jesuits at 18. He had an impactful presidency at the University, welcoming the first female students to campus and starting the School of Social Work and Loyola University Press.

John Furay, S.J.

14th President

1915-21 A tireless worker, Father Furay encouraged students to develop strong work habits as well. He established the University’s Summer School Program and the Correspondence Study Division to meet the needs of servicemen, housewives, and the blind.

William Agnew, S.J.

15th President

1921-27 He started his career in academia as a physics teacher before becoming an impactful administrator. During his term in office, Father Agnew established Loyola’s dental and business schools, as well as the Graduate School.

Robert Kelley, S.J.

16th President

1927-33 Before coming to Chicago, Father Kelley served as president of Regis College for six years. At Loyola, he oversaw the building of the Elizabeth M. Cudahy Library and created the intramural athletics program.

Samuel Wilson, S.J.

17th President

1933-42 Father Wilson began his career at Loyola as a history professor before becoming the department’s chairman and eventually, the University’s president. The School of Nursing and Madonna della Strada Chapel opened their doors during his tenure.

Joseph Egan, S.J.

18th President

1942-45 His time at Loyola was challenged by World War II, which severely restricted enrollment. But despite the circumstances, he conferred 150 degrees in December 1943, most of which were for medical school graduates.

James Hussey, S.J.

19th President

1945-55 Father Hussey’s 10-year presidency at Loyola transformed the school both physically and academically. During his tenure the school acquired Lewis Towers and a three-story building on Pearson Street, marking the beginning of the Water Tower Campus.

James Maguire, S.J.

20th President

1955-70 Father Maguire oversaw a period of massive growth at Loyola, turning it into one of the largest Catholic universities in the country. The Rome Center, the Institute of Pastoral Studies, and the medical center were all established during his tenure.

Raymond Baumhart, S.J.

21st President

1970-93 A Chicago native, Father Baumhart fought in the U.S. Navy during World War II. His 23-year presidency at Loyola was profound and far-reaching: full-time faculty doubled; library volumes nearly tripled; and the endowment rose from $20 million to more than $400 million.

John Piderit, S.J.

22nd President

1993-2001 Father Piderit launched the Loyola Experience to help students grow and develop through academic, social, and service opportunities. The University also received a Phi Beta Kappa honor society chapter and celebrated its 125th anniversary during his tenure.

Michael Garanzini, S.J.

23rd President

2001-15 Under Father Garanzini enrollment soared, finances stabilized, and construction boomed—and Loyola was transformed into one of the top universities in the country. Today, he is the University’s chancellor.

Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD

24th President

2016 The first lay leader in Loyola’s 146-year history, Dr. Rooney brings a wealth of experience to her new position. Before joining the University, she served as president of two colleges, worked for the Department of Defense, and was a managing director of Huron Consulting.

A presidential timeline

Twenty-four presidents have guided Loyola University Chicago since its founding in 1870 as St. Ignatius College. Here are some highlights of each administration.

Arnold Damen, S.J.

Founder & 1st President

1870-72 Father Damen founded St. Ignatius College, the predecessor of Loyola University Chicago, on the city’s West Side in 1870. As the school’s first president, he oversaw a faculty of four priests and a student body of 37 young men.

Ferdinand Coosemans, S.J.

2nd President

1872-74 Before coming to Chicago, Father Coosemans served as the president of St. Louis University for three years. The first degree in St. Ignatius College’s history—a master of arts awarded on June 25, 1873—came during his tenure.

John DeBlieck, S.J.

3rd President

1874-77 A philosopher who challenged the status quo, Father DeBlieck was a renowned missionary and three-time university president. During his time in Chicago, he presided over St. Ignatius College’s first graduating class of seven men.

Thomas Miles, S.J.

4th President

1877-80 Father Miles, a member of a prominent Kentucky family, had a short but distinguished career in Chicago. Among his highlights: creating the St. Cecilia Choral Society and introducing a scientific course leading to a bachelor of science degree.

Thomas O’Neil, S.J.

5th President

1880-84 A gifted administrator, Father O’Neil increased enrollment by more than 30 percent during his tenure—from 203 to 265 students. After his stint in Chicago, he returned to Missouri to train new Jesuits and serve as a seminary rector.

Joseph Zealand, S.J.

6th President

1884-87 As a young Jesuit, he traveled with Father Damen—the founder of St. Ignatius College—on a far-reaching missionary tour. In Chicago, he helped drive the college’s enrollment above 300 for the first time.

Edward Higgins, S.J.

7th President

1887-91 Father Higgins had a storied career as an educator and administrator before coming to Chicago. At St. Ignatius, he started the athletic association and helped expand the school’s library to more than 5,000 volumes.

Thomas Fitzgerald, S.J.

8th President

1891-94 He left Ireland with his family as a young boy and settled in Chicago, eventually joining Father Damen’s Holy Family Parish. During his time at St. Ignatius, the college established a scientific academy and started a camera club.

James Hoeffer, S.J.

9th President

1894-98 An enthusiastic administrator—and a huge proponent of rallying graduates around their alma mater—Father Hoeffer launched the school’s alumni association. In 1895, he oversaw the school’s silver jubilee celebration.

John Pahls, S.J.

10th President

1898-1900 Father Pahls joined the Society of Jesus after becoming disenchanted with his career in business. Although only at St. Ignatius College for two years, he was a conscientious administrator and leader.

Henry Dumbach, S.J.

11th President

1900-08 He was a talented student from a young age and entered the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Stanislaus at 17. Father Dumbach formed the College of Arts & Sciences and purchased 19 acres of land in Rogers Park that would become the Lake Shore Campus.

Alexander Burrowes, S.J.

12th President

1908-12 Father Burrowes opened the college’s first professional schools, the School of Law and the School of Medicine. One year after taking office, he acquired a new state charter that officially turned St. Ignatius College into Loyola University on October 23, 1909.

John Mathery, S.J.

13th President

1912-15 After immigrating from France, Father Mathery joined the Jesuits at 18. He had an impactful presidency at the University, welcoming the first female students to campus and starting the School of Social Work and Loyola University Press.

John Furay, S.J.

14th President

1915-21 A tireless worker, Father Furay encouraged students to develop strong work habits as well. He established the University’s Summer School Program and the Correspondence Study Division to meet the needs of servicemen, housewives, and the blind.

William Agnew, S.J.

15th President

1921-27 He started his career in academia as a physics teacher before becoming an impactful administrator. During his term in office, Father Agnew established Loyola’s dental and business schools, as well as the Graduate School.

Robert Kelley, S.J.

16th President

1927-33 Before coming to Chicago, Father Kelley served as president of Regis College for six years. At Loyola, he oversaw the building of the Elizabeth M. Cudahy Library and created the intramural athletics program.

Samuel Wilson, S.J.

17th President

1933-42 Father Wilson began his career at Loyola as a history professor before becoming the department’s chairman and eventually, the University’s president. The School of Nursing and Madonna della Strada Chapel opened their doors during his tenure.

Joseph Egan, S.J.

18th President

1942-45 His time at Loyola was challenged by World War II, which severely restricted enrollment. But despite the circumstances, he conferred 150 degrees in December 1943, most of which were for medical school graduates.

James Hussey, S.J.

19th President

1945-55 Father Hussey’s 10-year presidency at Loyola transformed the school both physically and academically. During his tenure the school acquired Lewis Towers and a three-story building on Pearson Street, marking the beginning of the Water Tower Campus.

James Maguire, S.J.

20th President

1955-70 Father Maguire oversaw a period of massive growth at Loyola, turning it into one of the largest Catholic universities in the country. The Rome Center, the Institute of Pastoral Studies, and the medical center were all established during his tenure.

Raymond Baumhart, S.J.

21st President

1970-93 A Chicago native, Father Baumhart fought in the U.S. Navy during World War II. His 23-year presidency at Loyola was profound and far-reaching: full-time faculty doubled; library volumes nearly tripled; and the endowment rose from $20 million to more than $400 million.

John Piderit, S.J.

22nd President

1993-2001 Father Piderit launched the Loyola Experience to help students grow and develop through academic, social, and service opportunities. The University also received a Phi Beta Kappa honor society chapter and celebrated its 125th anniversary during his tenure.

Michael Garanzini, S.J.

23rd President

2001-15 Under Father Garanzini enrollment soared, finances stabilized, and construction boomed—and Loyola was transformed into one of the top universities in the country. Today, he is the University’s chancellor.

Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD

24th President

2016 The first lay leader in Loyola’s 146-year history, Dr. Rooney brings a wealth of experience to her new position. Before joining the University, she served as president of two colleges, worked for the Department of Defense, and was a managing director of Huron Consulting.