James E. Hoff, S.J., dies following battle with cancer

Chancellor and former president led Xavier University into a new era | July 23, 2004

Xavier University chancellor and former president James E. Hoff, S.J., died during the early morning hours of Friday, July 23, at the University's Jesuit residence on campus. He had been diagnosed five months ago with cancer of the kidney, which had also spread to his liver and lungs. Hoff, 72, served as University president from 1991-2000 before becoming the University’s chancellor. His responsibilities included various combinations of teaching, fund raising, consulting, retreat work and other forms of priestly ministry.

Born June 23, 1932, in Milwaukee, Hoff graduated from Marquette University High School, later receiving a bachelor of science degree in biology and a master of arts degree in philosophy from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. He also earned a master’s degree in theology from Saint Louis University in 1966 and a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1969.

Hoff planned to attend medical school at Marquette University in the fall of 1953, but opted to enter the Society of Jesus instead. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1965. Before coming to Xavier, Hoff served as vice president of university relations for Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and president of the Creighton Foundation. He also directed Creighton’s School of Medicine, taught courses in medical ethics and theology, coached high school basketball, trained Jesuit novices and counseled terminally ill patients.

Xavier University inaugurated Hoff as its 33rd Jesuit president on April 21, 1991, replacing Albert J. DiUlio, S.J., who left Xavier to become president of Marquette University. During his inauguration, Hoff told students, alumni, faculty and dignitaries that he wanted nothing less than “everything” for the University. Most of all, though, he promised to “prepare students intellectually, spiritually and morally to take their places in a rapidly changing global society and to work for the betterment of society.”

During his tenure, Hoff strengthened the curriculum, bolstered the University’s endowments, created a national alumni chapter, envisioned a nationally recognized basketball program and oversaw the renovation and revitalization of Xavier’s campus, including the Cintas Center, Gallagher Student Center and new housing complexes.

Most importantly, however, Hoff achieved these goals without compromising the Catholic, Jesuit mission of the University.

For more about Hoff, please see the following:

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