Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Loyola changes charter to allow for non-Jesuit leadership

Sidney Ovrom
Loyola’s 17th president Tania Tetlow holds issue of The Maroon marking her presidential history in 2018. Tetlow was the university’s first female layperson president.

Tania Tetlow, the 17th president of Loyola University New Orleans, became not only the first woman to hold the position, but also the first layperson, in 2018. Since the university’s opening in 1904, the university charter stated that the president had to be a Roman Catholic male priest.


Loyola was founded by a small group of male Jesuit priests in 1847, but the change to allow laypeople to be elected university president did not happen until years later.


Loyola law professor and expert in constitutional law, Larry Moore, S.J., said the university charter had changed the strict requirements for presidency in the early 2000’s under the presidency of Bernard Knoth S.J., who served from 1995-2003. As one of the only duties of the Jesuits was amending the university charter if needed, Moore said that Knoth felt a change was needed in accordance with other Jesuit institutions. 


“More and more Jesuit universities were having a lay president. If it was a layperson, that would create this vice president for mission and identity,” Moore said.


When the Jesuits founded Loyola, they possessed limited power within the university itself. One of these powers was the ability to amend the university charter, which stands as the official legal document of Loyola, according to Moore.


Although the change to the university charter was made over two decades ago, the presidents, up until Tetlow, were still Jesuits.


Alongside Jesuit priests, since the early 2000’s, the university’s Board of Trustees have had the power to amend the university charter. The Board of Trustees meet four times a year to monitor the fulfillment of the university charter and strategic plans. In 2018, the Board of Trustees told The Maroon that the eventual instatement of a layperson as president was not out of the question. 


After Loyola’s 16th president, Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J. retired, the Board of Trustees expanded the pool of acceptable candidates for the university’s presidency.


“Including non-Jesuits into the pool of candidates means that the university can widen its search to include people with the very specific talents required to successfully and sustainably lead the university,” former Interim Provost and Chief Operating Officer, David Borofsky said. 


Students attending Loyola during Tetlow’s tenure can recall the multitude of emails and interactions with the former president that made her one with the community and student body, even during the height of COVID-19. 


Tetlow said being the first lay president of Loyola felt like the honor of a lifetime and also like coming home.  


During Tetlow’s presidency, the diversity within incoming freshmen between 2019-2022, as well as diminishing financial strife on campus, was accomplished with the highest of statistics for the university. Along with helping the university ease out of debt, Tetlow aimed to maintain the Jesuit values of the university’s history, as she believed Loyola lives and breathes Jesuit mission.


“I’ve been raised with Jesuit values and steeped in Jesuit traditions. I was sung to sleep with Gregorian chants as a baby, and my parents had private conversations at the dinner table in Latin,” she said in 2018. “I will lead Loyola with a full understanding that Jesuit values are the core mission.” 


Tetlow said the transition to lay leadership came with risk, as well as opportunity. 


“I had the chance to remind our community of the Jesuit mission, not just at Christmas and Easter, but during hundreds of teachable moments, and to do it in a new voice that sometimes broke through in different ways,” she said. “It has always been true that our mission would fade unless we lay people owned it.”  


Tetlow desired to plant seeds of success during her presidency, and with her departure, wanted to ensure that they were nurtured by whomever came after her, which was exemplified by the start of the new dorm installation and the creation of more graduate programs.


After Tetlow’s departure in early 2022 and seven months of searching for the next candidate, Loyola found a candidate who was no stranger to university leadership and student affairs.


Xavier Cole, Ed. D, has been working nearly 30 years in higher education, and at Loyola, a continuation of working in Jesuit Catholic institutions. Cole became not only the second layperson president, but also the first person of color to be elected. Coming from Marquette University as their previous vice president for student affairs, the Mississippi native and musician intends to put the students and faculty at the forefront at Loyola.


With goals of community service and cleanliness around campus, President Cole strives to prioritize knowing the needs and the faces of the Loyola community.


“The goal is to really get to know our people,” Cole said. “The people are the ones who really make this experience.” 



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About the Contributors
Dajah Saul
Dajah Saul, The Wolf Editor
Dajah Saul currently serves as The Maroon’s Wolf Editor. Dajah is a senior majoring in English with a concentration in Film and Digital Media, and she is interested in pursuing the publication or film industry in her future. In her free time, Dajah loves to read, listen to a variety of music with her headphones at all times, and absorb any form of pop culture in the media to rant about. Dajah can be reached at [email protected].
Sidney Ovrom
Sidney Ovrom, Staff Photographer
Sidney is a sophomore and this is her first year working at The Maroon. She is majoring in digital filmmaking with a minor in business marketing. She hopes to produce beautiful and story-telling images. She loves taking pictures and watching movies with her friends. Contact:[email protected]

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