May 24, 2019
To: Loyola University Chicago Board of Trustees
From: American Association of University Professors, Loyola University Chicago Chapter Re: Governance and Development concerns
Dear Member of the Board of Trustees:
We write as the elected leaders of Loyola’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors to express our deep consternation over the leadership of Jo Ann Rooney as Loyola’s President.
After Dr. Rooney’s hiring, her presidency deserved at least a year, perhaps two, to adequately assess our strengths and weaknesses and to make plans to improve Loyola’s programs, facilities, internal budgets and governance-. AAUP shares with other faculty groups a desire to help Loyola’s first lay president, a woman no less, succeed in her position, and help her to strengthen our core missions of research and teaching and the development of men and women who live and work for others. Unfortunately, Dr. Rooney is just finishing her third year as president, and the “austerity” budget cuts being implemented—however financially necessary they may be—also point to her failure in her fiduciary responsibilities.
The last year has seen two academic strikes, the decision to close the English Language Learning Program (ELLP) with no apparent replacement, national condemnation of Loyola’s media policy, and a decision to nearly completely curtail the operations of the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA). Three years into President Rooney’s tenure in office, we still have only an interim provost and thus no real university-wide academic leadership.
Similar chaos and lack of progress seem to characterize fundraising, which is what prompted an emergency AAUP two weeks ago, and led us to write this letter.
While we fully appreciate the benefits of financial prudence – the stated reasons for the abolition of ELLP and the downgrading of LUMA — we are astonished at how little President Rooney seems to have done, or intends to do, to raise money to support the extraordinary cultural resources and compelling mission of Loyola University Chicago. We seem to have failed to capitalize on last year’s historic Final Four run, there is no head of development a year after the previous one was fired, and perhaps most shockingly, there is no plan for any significant fundraising campaign around our sesquicentennial. Moreover, some of the decisions made in the name of budgetary austerity make little sense on that ground: how, for example, are we to attract a significant number of international students – most of whom pay full tuition – without language support of the kind that nearly all universities offer?
Loyola needs a President who values what we are and sees what we could become, and aggressively seeks financial support to make such a vision a reality. Our sesquicentennial offers an opportunity to begin this process.
To many faculty, and to some chairs and deans as well, the points above add up to a disturbing picture of a university leadership that is out of touch with the experience of teaching and learning on our campuses and is ill-equipped to lead us forward. What generations of leadership have built up can
be destroyed by a few years of negligence and incompetence. We fear that that is exactly what is happening to Loyola.
The AAUP met two weeks ago to address a number of ongoing concerns—itemized below—related to governance and other budgetary issues at Loyola. We are deeply concerned about the prospect of similar measures being taken over the summer. Attached to this message you will find several resolutions concerning these issues that were passed by the University Senate earlier this month.
- The sudden dismissal of almost the entire ELLP program
- LUMA’s loss of its prestigious museum status and lack of planning for the collection’s future
- The misreporting and belated “corrections” made around media policies from Marketing and the speaker’s contract
- The inability to hire a permanent provost and misleading statements about faculty involvement with decisions related to the provost’s position
- A second academic strike in 13 months
- The faculty exodus from the Institute for Pastoral Studies (IPS) and administrative dismissal of Title IX reports filed against the Dean of IPS
- The severance of our connection with the Beijing Center and the greatly reduced participation of faculty and students from Chicago in the Rome Center, reversing a nearly 60-year practice
- The failure to consult elected faculty bodies on decisions that impact all LUC faculty, in accordance with the mission statements of Faculty Council and the University Senate.
Additionally, the AAUP has had serious issues brought before us that affect faculty and have not been appropriately addressed by university governance at other levels, several with potentially severe and embarrassing legal implications.
The board should understand that there is no personal animus with Rooney; in fact, she has spent more time meeting with the Faculty Council and the AAUP leadership than other presidents have in the past. Yet to many faculty, and chairs and deans as well, the points above add up to a disturbing picture of a university leadership that is out of touch with the experience of teaching and learning on our campuses and is ill-equipped to lead us forward.
We fear the toll that further implementation of an austerity agenda and continued chaos at the top could take on Loyola. Accordingly, we urge the Board of Trustees to consider an intervention, particularly as it relates to Rooney’s weaknesses and inexperience with appropriate development agendas and results.
Professor of Sociology
President, Loyola Lakeside AAUP Chapter
Professor of English
Appeals Advocate, Loyola Lakeside AAUP Chapter