Lissa’s Legacy Lives On

In the heart of Valpo’s vibrant community beats the memory of one of our most beloved Valpo Wonder Women, Lissa Jean Yogan ’82, M.A., Ph.D. With profound sadness yet boundless admiration, we reflect on Women’s History Month celebrating the remarkable life of a woman whose journey exemplifies resilience, passion, and unwavering dedication to education.

Lissa’s connection with Valpo began as a student where she pursued her undergraduate studies in international economics and cultural affairs, graduating in 1982. Her thirst for knowledge led her to Ohio State University where she earned a master’s degree in student personnel in higher education and counseling psychology. She then began her career at the University of Maryland, College Park, as assistant director of commuter affairs and coordinator of instruction and training, and then moved to Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana, where she worked as director of residence life and housing. Her work with underserved and homeless communities awakened a passion for understanding the intricacies of our diverse society. That passion led her just across the street to earn her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Notre Dame in 1994.

Returning to her alma mater in 1995, Lissa embraced her role as a Valpo faculty member with fervor and dedication. Over the years, she made significant contributions to the sociology and criminology department, progressing from a visiting assistant professor to a full-time professor in 2019. Her commitment to excellence extended beyond the classroom, as she held various leadership positions within the University, including associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, assistant provost for faculty affairs, and most recently, associate provost.

Lissa Jean Yogan ’82, M.A., Ph.D.

As a colleague, Lissa was referred to most often as someone to look up to or lend an ear. “Lissa was an incredible human being and mentor. I would not be pursuing my doctoral education without her encouragement and support. She was also a fierce advocate behind the master of social work program and one of the reasons we will be launching the program this fall [2024]. She taught me new ways to teach, research, and advocate, but most of all, she taught me how to lead in a world that is equally uncertain and promising. I am grateful for her example,” says Caroline Ban, MSW, social work program director and assistant professor.

As a professor, Lissa’s impact reverberated through her dynamic teaching style and profound insights into sociology’s intersection with healthcare, sports, race, and gender studies. Her genuine enthusiasm for learning and teaching fostered a nurturing environment where students thrived and discovered new perspectives on the social world.

Outside academia, Lissa cherished life’s simple pleasures — from leisurely walks with her beloved golden retriever, Finnegan, to soaking in the warmth of Lake Michigan’s shores. Her love for family, literature, theater, and travel enriched her life and inspired those around her to embrace the beauty of the world.

Throughout her distinguished career, Lissa’s contributions garnered much recognition and many accolades, including multiple Excellence in Teaching Awards, Mentor of the Year Awards, Social Sciences Dean’s Award for Faculty Research, and Faculty Honoree by Valpo women’s volleyball. Additionally, Lissa was recognized by her peers in the North Central Sociological Association with the 2017 John F. Schnabel Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award and served as president of the association in 2013. Yet, beyond the accolades, Lissa’s true legacy lives on in the lives she touched and the hearts she enriched with her warmth, generosity, and infectious smile.

As we bid farewell to a cherished member of the Valpo family, we take solace in the enduring impact of Lissa Yogan’s legacy. Though she may no longer walk among us in the physical world, her spirit lives on in the countless lives she transformed and the indelible mark she left on our University and beyond. May her memory continue to inspire us to pursue knowledge, embrace compassion, and live life to the fullest, just as she did. And, may her example as one of Valpo’s most beloved Wonder Women inspire women everywhere to wonder what they can do, too.

Lissa Jean Yogan ’82, M.A., Ph.D.