By Lauren Grimaldi, Editor-in-Chief
Roosevelt University’s longest serving president Rolf Weil died on September 17. He was 95.
Weil served as the president of the university from 1964 up until his retirement in 1988. His initial tenure with the institution began in 1946 as an economics and finance professor. Prior to being named president, Weil served as the dean of the business college.
In a statement, current university president Ali Malekzadeh said Weil’s hard work at Roosevelt will always be remembered.
“…Weil always put the University’s best interest first, working tirelessly, frequently with the assistance and support of his wife, Leni, to ensure the University, as a modern-day institution of higher learning, would be on track for enrollment growth and financial stability, and a place for upward mobility of its students,” said Malekzadeh.
Malekzadeh also went on to say that Weil was instrumental in building the foundation of the Heller Business College. Additionally, Malekzadeh alluded to many other accomplishments of Weil’s that shaped Roosevelt into what it is today.
“Among many accomplishments, Weil oversaw planning and construction of Roosevelt’s Herman Crown Center, which has since been replaced by the Wabash Building,” said Malekzadeh. “He built the Heller College of Business, including its MBA program, virtually from the ground up. He established an early presence for Roosevelt in the Northwest suburbs with an Albert A. Robin Campus in Arlington Heights.”
An immigrant from Nazi Germany, Weil credited the United States with the success he found after he left his home country. He came with little to no knowledge of the English language.
“He always told me, ‘In what other country could you arrive with no money, and with hard work and commitment, become a university president?’” his son, Ronald said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Upon coming to the U.S. at age 15, Weil worked small jobs prior to attending the University of Chicago. There, he would go on to earn his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in economics.
He documented his initial experiences in the United States in his memoir, “Through These Portals: From Immigrant to University President.” This book focused on his tenure at Roosevelt and his life following his escape from the Nazi regime.
Services for Weil were held on Tuesday, September 19. Malekzadeh said that Roosevelt is planning to hold a memorial for Weil. Details on this memorial will be available soon.