Fr. John Lo Schiavo, S.J., former president of the University of San Francisco, who presided over a financial, academic, and co-curricular resurgence of the university, died peacefully on May 15, 2015. Born in San Francisco to Italian immigrants, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1942, shortly after James R. Menard, SJ, uncle of Directors Marcel and Barbara Menard. His sixty-five year association with USF began in 1950, when he became an instructor of philosophy. He served as vice principal of Brophy College Preparatory School in Phoenix, AZ from 1958-61, where Fr. Menard spent thirty-three years. Then Father Schiavo became USF’s vice president of student affairs from 1966-1968, during the years when Barbara was in college there. From 1970-1973 he served as chair of the USF Board of Trustees, and in 1977 he was elected the 25th president. As a San Francisco native, he had a deep appreciation for the institution’s great legacy in the city, as well as the many challenges it faced. Chief among the challenges Fr. Schiavo faced on becoming president of USF was the school’s precarious financial situation. Under his leadership, an accurate accounting system was established and the REACH capital campaign was launched. Due to his fundraising efforts USF was able to add a wing to the School of Law’s Kendrick Hall, and to acquire the Lone Mountain College property.
In the mid-1980’s, Fr. Lo headed another capital campaign that raised funds to enable the construction of the Koret Health and Recreation Center. During his presidency the university’s endowment grew, every annual budget was balanced, and new academic programs were developed. In the program from his funeral liturgy it states, “As iconic to San Francisco as the Golden Gate Bride, Fr. Lo, as he was affectionately known, was gracious, funny, with a knack for naturally connecting with people. He touched more lives than anyone in USF’s storied history, presiding over countless funerals, baptisms, and marriages for generations of San Franciscans, saying mass regularly for the Carmelite nuns, and golfing with civic leaders and friends.” He received many awards including the USF Alumni Association’s first Lifetime Achievement Award, an award that is named in his honor and presented to individuals who exemplify the Jesuit ideals of courage, integrity, and selflessness, and those who have acted on their convictions for the benefit of others irrespective of personal sacrifice. Fr. Lo will be greatly missed by his family, friends, USF Alumni, and the city that he loved.