Educated by Jesuits, Inspired by Officers, Energized by Students
For some Chicago locals, a Loyola University Chicago education can be a formative four years that directly impacts life’s trajectory. Loyola Associate Professor Connie Fletcher, 65, from the class of 1970, is one of those people.
Just several years after both of her brothers graduated from Loyola, Fletcher’s father lost his job. But Connie Fletcher received scholarships that enabled her to attend Loyola.
“Even today, when I walk around, I think ‘thank God’ my Loyola education completely changed my life,” Fletcher said. “If I wouldn’t have gotten a scholarship, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere.”
Being raised in an Irish Catholic family from Chicago, Fletcher was brought to several of Chicago’s mobster landmarks as a young child. With an aunt running the Lincoln Hall, at the time a retirement home for many Chicago mobsters, she gained an insight into Chicago mob life.
This marked the beginning of her infatuation with law enforcement and Chicago police officers. In fact, her first article was for the Walking Tour of Gangland Chicago.
Later, as a young professional, Fletcher watched her sister Julie work as a Chicago police officer.
“I finally just realized Julie had all of the best stories I had ever heard,” Fletcher said.
This initial curiosity led Fletcher to write five books that were published over the last three decades. The first was an expansion of a story written for Chicago magazine. For her book, “What Cops Know,” she interviewed members of her sister’s tactical team. An interview that started at Murphy’s Bleachers unlocked insight to the city that could only be seen through the police.
“I was thrilled enough to write articles,” Fletcher said. “Writing a book was amazing.”
Each of these books looks inside the lives of law enforcement officials. Through trial and error, Fletcher soon began to realize that police officers were most open and talkative when well-fed.
“I started taking them all to dinner so I knew I could keep them talking at least through dessert,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher attributes much of her success to the beginning of her Jesuit education. Fletcher’s education is so dear to her heart, that when describing the values instilled at Loyola she said, “please don’t make me get teary.”
The professor said a Jesuit education “takes the emphasis off of your success . . . and (on) becoming a person for others. . . . I love AMGD (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam or For the Greater Glory of God) because I just think it is a great motto. It makes you realize it is about doing it for the greater good.”
She believes many Jesuit values fit with journalism because both the education and the craft act as voices for the voiceless.
After earning majors in English literature and classics at Loyola, Fletcher went on to earn her Ph.D. in English literature from Northwestern University. Here, she began her career as a professor, although she said she “couldn’t stand those Medill students.”
Once she realized that her Ph.D. program was leading her and her peers to becoming professors, she began to make her way back to Loyola. In 1985, she returned as an associate professor. Fletcher said she thoroughly enjoyed this teaching position because the students were truly exceptional at Loyola.
Today she continues to write books and was most recently listed in the book, “The Best 300 Professors” put together by The Princeton Review and RateMyProfessor.com. She will continue to “be the difference” for as long as possible.
Fletcher commented that she owes it to her students to walk into the classroom each day, not complain and go all out to ensure they are earning their “dollar value” for their education.
“I am going to knock myself out,” Fletcher said. “It’s not about me, it is about giving these poor devils the best education.”