Saturday, June 16, 2001

Former president of XU 'did wonders'




By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        His shiny pate and bright smile were unmistakable trademarks during his tenure as president of Xavier University.

        Thursday, the Rev. Robert W. Mulligan, S.J., 84, died of heart failure at Loyola Medical Center in suburban Chicago. It was his 52nd anniversary as a Roman Catholic priest.

        Father Mulligan came to XU in 1971 as provost and became president the next year.

Fr. Mulligan
Fr. Mulligan
        “He was a real academician and he really identified with the faculty,” Roger Fortin, historian and acting academic vice president, said Friday. “He did wonders.”

        XU in the 1970s too often perceived itself as a parochial backwater in the firmament of Jesuit universities, Dr. Fortin said. “I think we didn't know how very good we were.

        “But when the new guy from the Jesuits' Loyola University in Chicago said, "You're much better than you think you are,' he raised faculty self-esteem.”

        A Chicago native, Father Mulligan entered the Society of Jesus when its novice program was based in Milford.

        After ordination, he earned his Ph.D. at Louvain University in Belgium and took postdoctoral studies at the University of Paris.

        Home again at Loyola, he was professor of philosophy, department chairman, vice president and dean of faculties.

        Then he came to Cincinnati.

        Father Mulligan moved to St. Louis University in 1982 as executive assistant to the president and corporate secretary.

        The University of Cincinnati awarded Father Mulligan an honorary doctorate and the president of France honored him with the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor for strengthening U.S.-French cultural ties.

        Survivors include a sister, Marion O'Rourke of Winnetka, Ill.

        Mass of Christian Burial will be 7:30 p.m. Monday at Madonna della Strada Chapel, Loyola University.

        Memorials: Jesuit International Missions or Jesuit Partnership, 2245 Gilbert Ave., Cincinnati 45206.

       



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