Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J.

Fr. Schlegel Tribute

Remembering Fr. Schlegel

Former Creighton University president the Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J., died Nov. 15, 2015 in Omaha of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72.

Fr. Schlegel served as Creighton’s 23rd president from 2000 to 2011. He was a passionate supporter of Catholic and Jesuit education, and friend to Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni, benefactors and the greater Omaha community.

Fr. Schlegel first arrived at Creighton in 1969 as a Jesuit scholastic and taught political science. He joined the political science faculty in 1976 and later added the title of assistant vice president for academic affairs before leaving Creighton in 1982 to become academic dean at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo. He went on to become dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Marquette University in Milwaukee and executive and academic vice president at John Carroll University in Cleveland before being named president of the University of San Francisco in 1991. He held that position until returning “home” to Creighton in 2000 as president.

As a professor, administrator and president, Fr. Schlegel never lost sight of the mission: Creighton exists for students and for learning. He reinforced Creighton’s Jesuit, Catholic identity, strengthening ties with the Omaha Archdiocese and merging the University’s faith-based identity with its academic missions of teaching, research, scholarship and service.

In his inaugural address, Fr. Schlegel shared his desire that Creighton University become more involved in “the deliberations that impact the quality of life and the future of Omaha.” During his presidency, that relationship flourished and the collaborative efforts contributed to a renaissance of downtown Omaha. Fr. Schlegel was inducted into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame and was named a Most Honored Citizen by the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation.

Creighton University experienced much success and growth under Fr. Schlegel’s leadership. His expansion of the campus — in terms of space and new facilities — provided a modern living and learning environment that spurred enrollment growth and enriched students’ experiences. Fr. Schlegel was tireless in his support of Creighton and inspired others in his vision for the future. He presided over the most successful capital campaign in the University’s history, the Willing to Lead Campaign, which raised more than $470 million in gifts and pledges.

In stepping down from the presidency in 2011, Fr. Schlegel wrote: “It has been an honor to serve as president of Creighton University! I will always hold this institution and its people dear to my heart. This is truly a special place.”