John P. Pelissero, Ph.D., became interim president at Loyola University Chicago on July 1, having previously served as provost. He is also a political science professor at Loyola, where he has been a member of the faculty for 30 years. He joined Loyola’s Department of Political Science as an assistant professor in 1985, was promoted to associate professor in 1988, and then to professor in 1993. He served as chairperson of the Department of Political Science from 1999 to 2002.
Dr. Pelissero’s university leadership roles began in 2003 with his appointment as the first associate provost for curriculum development. He led the development of a new undergraduate core curriculum and supervised academic services, assessment, and learning technology. From 2005 to 2010 he was vice provost for the Division of Academic Affairs, responsible for budgeting, enrollment management, faculty development, and institutional research.
He was named provost in May 2010. As the University’s chief academic officer, he lead academic affairs, including two colleges, seven schools, two institutes, the University Centers of Excellence, and University Libraries. He was responsible for enrollment management and strategic planning, as well as oversight of the Division of Student Development. He served as a member of the President’s Cabinet, the Council of Deans, two committees of the Board of Trustees, the Budget Review Team, and the Development Council.
Dr. Pelissero earned his BA in political science from Marquette University in 1975. He holds a MA in political science and a MPA from the University of Oklahoma. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Oklahoma in 1983. He was a member of the faculty at Texas A&M University from 1983-85.
His academic specializations include urban politics and management, state politics, and intergovernmental relations. He has also conducted extensive research on Chicago and its politics. He has published dozens of articles in political science journals and two books: Managing Urban America, 7th ed., Washington: CQ Press, 2012, (with David R. Morgan and Robert E. England) and Cities, Politics and Policy: A Comparative Analysis. Washington: CQ Press, 2003.
Before beginning his academic career, he was an Army officer, a captain in the Adjutant General Corps. He and his wife, Paula, have lived in Skokie for 30 years. They have two adult children. Their daughter, Carolyn is married to Nick Moretti, who is co-owner of an Italian deli and butcher shop and restaurant, the Chop Shop, in Bucktown. Their son, Steven, is a restaurant manager with Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants in Chicago.
As for his Italian background, his father, John F. Pelissero, was a first generation Italian. His mother, Mary Lou, is Irish. His father was a butcher and food store manager in Bessemer, Michigan (in the Upper Peninsula). Pelissero’s grandparents both emigrated from Italy in the early 1900s. His grandfather, Peter (Pierino) Pelissero was from Meana di Susa, in the Torino district of Piedmonte. He settled in Bessemer, as did many Italians from Meana di Susa, to work in the iron ore mines. He served in the US Army during WWI. His grandmother, Alma Barbacovi, was from Tres, in the Trentino-Alto Adige region. She followed her five brothers who settled in Bessemer. Pelissero has visited with relatives in both Meana di Susa and Tres, Italy, and was able to see the homes in which his grandparents had lived as children.
He has five brothers and three still live in or near Bessemer, Michigan, as does his 85-year old mother. He still visits Bessemer whenever he can and his family has had a cottage on Lake Gogebic for many years. Bessemer and nearby Hurley, Wisconsin, still have large Italian communities, from which he learned a great deal about his heritage.
Dr. Pelissero is a member of the City Club of Chicago, a director of the The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, and a past member and president of Skokie School District 73.5. He and his wife, Paula, a human resources consultant, live in Skokie.