Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father John Schlegel’
America Press Inc. the Jesuit-sponsored magazine and web site, announced on Friday the appointment of Jesuit Father John P. Schlegel, as publisher and president. Fr. Schlegel, who recently completed 11 years as president of Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, will assume his office in November.
The joining of the publisher’s role with that of the president of America Press is an early outcome of the press’s strategic planning process which will conclude in late February. As president, Schlegel succeeds Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen, who will remain America’s editor in chief. The publisher’s position has been open since the resignation of Jan Attridge, the press’s first publisher, in April.
Schlegel, a weekly reader of America, expressed enthusiasm at taking on a new ministry. “America,” he said, “is a vital national Jesuit apostolate bringing Catholic opinion to bear on the great public issues of the day. I am grateful for the opportunity to help secure and improve America’s presence in today’s new media environment.” He was buoyed in his decision, Schlegel said, “by the encouragement of brother Jesuits, friends and colleagues that America is the right challenge” for him to take on at this time.
Jesuit Father John Schlegel, retiring president of Creighton University, might soon find himself in the City That Never Sleeps, the economic epicenter of the world.
Either that or he’s moving to a country that more than 250,000 people fled last year to escape a violent ruler, economic turmoil and one of the world’s worst AIDS epidemics.
Those two alternatives — New York City or Zimbabwe — are as much as Schlegel is willing to say about his next Jesuit assignment after 11 years spent as Creighton’s leader.
In those 11 years Schlegel has built Creighton into the premier Midwestern private university of its kind, according to national rankings. He has grown enrollment and doubled applications to the school. He has expanded the campus by 40 acres and then transformed it with state-of-the-art buildings paid for by a historic $400 million fundraising drive that he spearheaded.
Schlegel said he is proud that Creighton’s Catholic identity has remained strong even as the number of Jesuits on campus has continued to drop. Creighton has made up for its lack of Jesuits by teaching faculty and staff about Catholic identity at annual retreats, Schlegel said.
“Without the Catholic identity we’d be just another good liberal-arts based Midwestern university,” he said.
But that identity — specifically the church’s anti-abortion stance — has caused friction with Omahans who might otherwise support the school, Schlegel said.
“Sometimes doing what we’re doing has come at a real cost,” he said. “That’s the price of doing business, I guess. … They live by their convictions, we live by ours, and that’s fine.”
Schlegel has known his successor, Lannon, since 1969, when Lannon was an undergraduate sitting in one of the first political science courses Schlegel taught at Creighton.
When Schlegel told the university’s board he was planning to step down, he put together a short list of potential replacements. Lannon, a Creighton alum and then president of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, was featured prominently on that short list, Schlegel said.
He thinks Lannon will be a good president, partly because he understands the Omaha area and already knows many Creighton alums and donors from his tenure as president of Omaha Creighton Prep. Creighton faculty who know both Jesuit priests say Lannon is gregarious while Schlegel is wry and reserved.
“The style will be different — I’ve been told that by many people,” Schlegel said. “But I think that’s good. I think change is very healthy.”
Change is exactly what Schlegel is trying to prepare for. He will drive east to Milwaukee, where he will take a six-month sabbatical and then head to either New York City or Zimbabwe for his next mission as a Jesuit priest. Schlegel said only that the mission won’t be another college presidency.
“You get up, you go to work, and a lot of times you don’t see the cumulative effect, how things are changing,” Schlegel said.
“I’ve been a little more reflective” in the past few months, he said. “I’ve been more appreciative of what’s happened here.”
Creighton University student Maria DeMeuse had a problem, and so, like countless Bluejays over the past decade, she called Jesuit Father John Schlegel and scheduled a sit-down.
She expected maybe 10 minutes of the university president’s time. Instead, they debated whether Creighton had strayed from its Catholic mission and the meaning of Catholic identity.
They discussed the school’s class offerings and its faculty.
An hour passed, then 90 minutes. It got so late the president’s secretary went home.
Fr. Schlegel stayed. He listened.
“It’s very easy, being in this atmosphere, to cater to the administrators, to the board,” DeMeuse said Wednesday. “He sees his mission as being here for the students. … We’re definitely going to miss him.”
Schlegel, the longtime Creighton president, announced Wednesday that he planned to retire in July 2011. You can read more about Schlegel’s legacy at Creighton in this article from the Omaha World-Herald.