Campus Life

Former USF President John Lo Schiavo, S.J., Passes

by Ed Carpenter, Office of Marketing Communications

Former USF President and USF Chancellor John Lo Schiavo, S.J., 90, passed away peacefully at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos on May 15.

Fr. Lo Schiavo, affectionately known as Fr. Lo by those who knew him, presided over a financial, academic, and co-curricular resurgence of USF during his presidential tenure from 1977-91. USF faced a $1.7 million deficit when he entered office and possessed an endowment of just $4.6 million. When he stepped down as president to become chancellor, USF had operated on a balanced budget every year since 1980 and boasted a $38.7 million endowment.

Fr. Lo Schiavo oversaw two major fundraising campaigns, including the $26.8 million REACH capital campaign — USF’s largest and most successful up to that time (1982). That campaign enabled the university to add a wing to the School of Law’s Kendrick Hall and to purchase the Lone Mountain College property, one of the most significant land acquisitions in the institution’s history.

Leader in education, alumni relations, fundraising

In 1982, Fr. Lo Schiavo suspended the university’s Division I Men’s Basketball program, making national headlines. A former all-city basketball player at St. Ignatius High School, Fr. Lo Schiavo felt he had no alternative after repeated violations of NCAA rules, which predated his term. His decision, premised on ethical principles, was strongly supported by university trustees and executive officers. In 1985, Fr. Lo Schiavo restored the basketball program under new leadership and more stringent guidelines. More than 30 years later, his decision to suspend the university’s basketball program is still referenced in articles examining ethics and sports.

Fr. Lo Schiavo stepped down as president in 1991, after 14 years, and became USF chancellor, serving as a significant leader in alumni relations and fundraising. The John Lo Schiavo, S.J. Center for Science and Innovation, which opened in 2013, is a high-tech facility with state-of-the-art science laboratories in the heart of the campus. It is a lasting memorial to one of the university’s greatest leaders. 

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