MAYWOOD, Ill. - Being there when his students need him is what James G. Mendez said is his primary responsibility as the new assistant dean for student affairs at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill.
“Being responsible for the academic, financial and emotional well being of hundreds of medical students is no easy task but it’s the most vital thing that I do here,” the 44-year-old Mendez said. “Being a student at Stritch can be very stressful. The curriculum is very demanding and time-consuming. My role here is to ease as much pressure as possible on the students so that they can concentrate as much as they can on their studies and personal growth.”
Mendez’s responsibilities include providing academic advice and personal counseling, developing policies related to student issues and making sure that students are informed about the school’s policies and procedures.
“It’s giving students a lot of information related to all that,” Mendez said. “Either through events or either through the Web and other types of vehicles that get them the information they need quickly and timely.”
Mendez also helps students to choose a specialty and plan their careers by assisting them to explore their interests, skills, goals and values.
“I tell students when they’re trying to choose a specialty to try and pick something that you truly enjoy doing. It’s a total blessing if you can pick something where on Monday morning, weekend’s over, you have no problem getting up and going to work,” Mendez said. “That’s a blessing. That is good. I can say that about my job. I enjoy what I do and look forward to work.”
Mendez brings almost two decades of experience in academia to his position. Before coming to the Stritch School of Medicine, he served as the assistant dean for student affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Medicine. There he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the college’s office of student affairs.
“James is a valuable addition to our academic team at Stritch,” said Mike Lambesis, assistant dean of student life, Stritch School of Medicine. “He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge that will be extremely helpful in this position. I have no doubts that he will be wonderful with the students.”
Mendez has spent his entire career in academia, initially entering the field in July 1988 as a financial aid counselor at UIC, where he eventually rose to director of medical school financial aid.
“It was a natural transition to move into student affairs,” Mendez said. “You know how money is. It makes people react in so many different ways. Coming out of financial aid, I’ve seen all of that. It taught me to be calm and patient, and to always give people the benefit of the doubt. When I was a rookie financial aid counselor it wasn’t easy but I’ve got 19 years under my belt so I’ve seen a lot.”
A native of Chicago, Mendez said coming to work at Stritch School of Medicine was a relatively easy decision for him to make.
“What’s different about this place is there is a real, organized, focused commitment to volunteerism and community service,” Mendez said. “That’s a wonderful thing that helped me in terms of my decision.”
Mendez earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., and a master’s degree in history from DePaul University in Chicago. He is currently working on a doctor of philosophy degree in history. In 2004 and 2007, he won the Frank T. Sparks Award for Outstanding Service to Medical Students.
His professional affiliations include the American Association of Medical Colleges-Central Group on Student Affairs, Illinois Association of Financial Aid Administrators and the Illinois Committee of Associate Deans. He lives in Homewood with his wife Katrina, daughter Kellie and son James III.
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.