Veronica Gloria Earns New Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship

Joliet, Ill. – Earlier this year, the University of St. Francis (USF) announced its Will County Access Initiative, which offers a full-tuition scholarship to benefit academically-talented but economically-challenged commuter students from under-served populations who dream of earning a college degree.  In another demonstration of its investment in the Joliet area, USF is now introducing its Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship.

“The Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship is designed for local, not-for-profit agency directors and leaders who serve the greater Joliet community and assists them with earning their MBA through USF.  As Joliet’s university, this is a direct way to impact Joliet community members,” said Tracy Spesia, Ed.D., USF professor and Spanish Community Center board president.

At least one scholarship will be awarded annually – subject to demand and external funding support.  Recipients must commit to maintaining board-approved leadership position at their respective agency for two years beyond degree completion.

While future recipients of the scholarship will be determined through an application-based review process, the inaugural recipient of the Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship is Veronica Gloria, Spanish Community Center Executive Director.  As the inaugural recipient of the scholarship, Gloria sees the opportunity the scholarship presents and the lasting impact it, in turn, can create within the local community.

“What excites me most about this opportunity is that it creates sustainable access to higher education for myself and other professionals dedicated to the public good in Joliet. The more prepared we are as a sector, the more we can strategically make a difference in our local community. A quality education at USF can provide us with essential tools to creatively face challenges as change agents in our institutions, communities, and broader systems,” Gloria said.

“Although Spanish Community Center has many successes to celebrate, there are many serious challenges ahead, from devising our first strategic plan, to an impending recession, to the societal challenges that our agency and the underprivileged community we serve face,” she added. “Earning an MBA is a critical towards gaining new skills, insights, and tools to overcome whatever challenges lay ahead for our agency and community. Sharpening my business acumen will help me ask the right questions and seek the best answers to ensure that Spanish Community Center is sustainable and continues to weather the many complex storms ahead.”

Gloria began her MBA studies at USF this fall with a goal of completing the program within two years.

The idea for the scholarship originated with Spesia and her connection to the Spanish Community Center and Gloria.

“Veronica is a gifted and talent young professional and I knew she wanted to further her education.  She has her undergraduate degrees from Harvard University and she is already on the Illinois Board of Higher Education (appointed by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker).  I approached (USF President) Arvid (Johnson) with the idea and that we can strengthen the positive impact our University has on the Joliet community by investing in one of its talented leaders.  Arvid immediately agreed, and the idea continued to build from that point,” Spesia said.

Community Investing in Community

The Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship is offered under a shared-cost structure with financial responsibilities assigned as approximately 25% to the recipient personally, 25% to the Joliet-area agency sponsoring the recipient, and 50% to the University of St. Francis – with the expectation that half of USF’s commitment will be donor-/business-funded.  To that end, USF is proud to announce that the first community business sponsor of the Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship is Joliet-area business owner and philanthropist Terry D’Arcy.

“Terry D’Arcy has long been a strong supporter of the University of St. Francis and so many other important organizations and causes in the Joliet area,” USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., said. “Through his support of the Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship this year, Terry is continuing to invest in the ongoing growth and development of the greater Joliet region by partnering with USF to help one of our bright, young leaders to advance her education.”

Additional details on the Joliet Agency Leadership Scholarship will be made available to local service and community agencies in early 2021. For more information on the scholarship, please contact Eric Wignall, Vice President of Admissions, Enrollment Services, and Marketing at or 815-740-3444.

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Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Fall Re-opening Plans Update

Dear Members of the University of St. Francis Community –

This is the latest update in the series of communications about our operations that we have been providing since early March. It shares important information about the University of St. Francis’ plans for the Fall 2020 term.

USF Plans to Re-open Its Campuses This Fall…

Illinois (and other Midwestern) health officials have announced plans allowing businesses, schools, and universities to re-open in various ways. In most cases, the State is allowing physical locations like stores and schools to re-open with some restrictions on the total number of people attending an event. USF has planned for re-opening campus buildings beginning August 3rd with restrictions to the size of classes, team meetings, and other gatherings to keep the number in large spaces to less than 50 – in coordination with the transition of our region to “Phase 4” on June 26th, per Governor Pritzker’s announcement earlier today.

Reducing Class Sizes, Changing the Calendar, Making Campus Safe…

This summer, University staff members have gone from building-to-building and room-to-room, counted socially-distant seats, and planned where access and exit points will be located. Classrooms and labs are being changed to allow students to work at a safe distance from others, while preserving the welcoming and active learning environment that makes USF a great university.

As with almost every other US university – both public and private – our University is modifying slightly its Fall 2020 term calendar to adapt for COVID-19 and to mitigate against its spread by providing a larger gap between the end of the Fall 2020 term and the beginning of the Spring 2021 term.  Specifically,

  • USF’s Fall Break (originally scheduled for October 19th through 23rd) is being moved and shortened to Tuesday & Wednesday, October 6th & 7th. This means that Fall 2020 classes in ALL formats will now end one week earlier on Friday, December 11th.
  • All on-campus, face-to-face classes will move to a fully-online format, as necessary, after Thanksgiving Break, which begins on November 26th. This change applies to the two final weeks of the semester (the last week of classes and the week of finals).  Residents will be asked to move out after this date.
  • Shortening the semester in this way also allows us to move Commencement to Saturday, December 12th.

(Student athletes in fall/winter sports will be able to stay on campus and participate in games, as necessary.)

These changes are part of a larger, overall plan to re-open the University to both students and faculty members beginning on August 3rd.  Additional details of the plan will be shared with our USF community in the coming weeks. Please know that we are working to create a vibrant campus and to provide high-quality learning experiences for all students, while adhering to the “Restore Illinois” guidelines presented by Governor Pritzker, as well as the “best practices” guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We continue to adapt, plan, clean, and make our campus buildings into a safe environment for students to live and learn with us.

We look forward to seeing you this fall!

Peace and all good things,

Arvid C. Johnson

University of St. Francis Board Extends President’s Contract

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis Board of Trustees extended the contract of current university president Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., at its meeting on Friday, June 7, 2019. Johnson joined the university in June 2013 as its ninth president and will continue to serve in that role through June 2027.

“It is a privilege to continue to serve as the ninth president of the University of St. Francis. USF has come a long way since its establishment in 1920 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. I look forward to many more years of helping the USF community build a Franciscan future through offering academic excellence in programs that prepare women and men to contribute to the world through service and leadership,” Johnson said.

Outgoing USF Board of Trustees chairperson Arthur Scheuber commended Johnson for the positive impact he has had on the USF community since his arrival six years ago.

“During my tenure on the Board of Trustees, we hired Dr. Johnson,” Scheuber said. “He came to St. Francis with a belief in ‘servant leadership’ and was quick to develop strong relationships with the founding congregation, students, staff, faculty, alumni and the community. He also developed a strategic plan that called for the development of measurable goals. In the six years that Dr. Johnson has been at the helm of the university, he has meet or exceeded almost all of those goals.”

“USF’s academic reputation has continued to grow. Dr. Johnson has implemented change that has brought fiscal stability to the university. He has improved our presence in downtown Joliet with the creation of the St. Bonaventure Campus, created a new home for our nursing college, built a new science hall and addressed the parking issues on the campuses.  He has also engaged our alumni and brought more of them back in contact with USF. He has been able to improve our fundraising and increase our student enrollments. More importantly, he has put us on a track to be successful in the future,” Scheuber added.

During Johnson’s time with the university, USF has continued to strengthen its reputation as a top-rated, private, Catholic, Franciscan university. In addition to annually receiving both regional and national accolades for its academic programs from Money Magazine, The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and Colleges of Distinction, USF has seen its enrollments increase and its facilities expand (most recently with the LaVerne and Dorothy Brown Science Hall that opened in 2018) under Johnson’s leadership.  Indeed, the University now operates three campuses in the Joliet region – having opened its St. Bonaventure Campus (anchored by the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center) in downtown Joliet in 2015 and its St. Clare Campus (anchored by Guardian Angel Hall, which houses the Leach College of Nursing) two miles north of the Main Campus in 2016.  Johnson has also helped USF establish multiple international academic partnerships, including an MBA program with the Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic, and similar partnerships with the University of Finance-Marketing in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and the University of Economics and Business in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Prior to joining the University of St. Francis, Johnson served as the Dean of the Brennan School of Business at Dominican University since 2008 and as a Professor of Management since 2001. He presently serves on several boards including the Illinois Council on Economic Education, Will County Center for Economic Development, National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics, the Council of Independent Colleges, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, First Secure Bank & Trust Company, American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley, and Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center Community Leadership Board.

Johnson also has over 15 years of engineering, manufacturing, and senior management experience in a variety of defense/aerospace businesses that preceded his transition to academia in 2001. Within the marketing research industry, he founded and served as the chair of Information Resources, Inc.’s Analytics Advisory Board from 2003-2008, and led that company’s efforts to establish a global research and development function.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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