By Drew Modjeski
Roosevelt University President Ali Malekzadeh presented the family of Jimmy Dooley with a diploma for a degree in media studies during a reception held in Dooley’s honor on Oct. 8.
Dooley died on Aug. 4, 2018, shortly before he began his final semester at Roosevelt.
The reception only lasted around 15 to 20 minutes and featured remarks by Provost Lois Becker, Dean of the College of Arts and Science Bonnie Gunzenhauser and President Ali.
All three speakers had nice remarks about Dooley, especially President Ali when he said, “He was such a presence on campus and he had an infectious smile.”
After receiving the diploma, Dooleys parents, Jim and Anna Pries Dooley, gave an emotional speech to the attending crowd thanking them for being there.
“We don’t know a lot of Jimmy’s Roosevelt community. Thanks to the awesomeness of social media we got to see all the people who shared so many wonderful memories of Jimmy,” Anna Pries Dooley said.
After the diploma ceremony, friends and family hung around to enjoy drinks and food, listen to music and talk and remember the life of Dooley.
As to how this event came to fruition, the Chair of the Department of Communications Marian Azzaro said, “Dr. Fallon and Dr. Schiller, who have had Jimmy in classes for a very long time, asked if there would be anything we can do to confer the degree because Jimmy was so close.” After reaching out to their registrar’s office, Azzaro discovered that Roosevelt does have a policy about rewarding a degree to students who unfortunately die within a semester of finishing their degree.
President Ali said that the news of wanting to hold this event in the honor Dooley came up through many people as it went from Azzaro to Dean Gunzenhauser then to Provost Becker before President Ali learned about it.
Awarding Dooley his diploma, and holding a reception for him, meant a lot to Dooley’s family and friends.
“We were speechless, we were stunned when we heard about this,” Jim Dooley, +Jimmy Dooley’s father said. “It’s a great honor and Jimmy would have loved this.”
Matt Harlovic, one of Dooley’s best friends, held a similar sentiment when he said, “Since we started Roosevelt together, we were both in the same orientation group, we were friends throughout high school, we played basketball together, it was really important to me to graduate with him.”
One of the people who helped get the reception put together, professor Peter Fallon, described what this event meant to him when he said, “I think it is a really good thing. It is appropriate. It is an act of kindness. His diploma is a token of our appreciation of his work.”
As the reception came near the end, Jim Dooley did something that him and Jimmy did together a lot, played a few songs. The two were a part of the Dooley Brothers, a local band in the River Forest area.
With his daughter Claire by his side, Jim Dooley played a trio of Beatles songs, “Here Comes the Sun,” “Blackbird” and he closed with the first song Jimmy Dooley ever played, “I Need You.”