Loyola names first woman president

The Loyola University New Orleans Board of Trustees has selected its first layperson and first female president with the selection of Tania Tetlow, J.D., as its 17th president since its founding in 1912, succeeding Jesuit Father Kevin Wildes. 

She is the fourth woman president to lead one of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States, according to Patricia Murret, associate director of public affairs at Loyola University New Orleans.

“The Jesuits are thrilled that our first lay president has such a strong Catholic faith and Jesuit background,” said Jesuit Father Billy Huete, a board trustee. “Though we were definitely looking for these attributes in all the possible candidates, it would be hard to find a qualified layperson who has a greater understanding and appreciation of what the Society of Jesus tries to be and do in our contemporary world.”

Tania Tetlow, J.D.

Who is she?

Tetlow’s legacy at Loyola runs deep. She is Catholic and a New Orleanian who grew up on campus, attending Holy Name of Jesus School and visiting her parents – mother Elisabeth Tetlow, who was a Loyola Law graduate, and father Mulry Tetlow, who was a Loyola psychology teacher. 

Her grandfather also attended Loyola on a football scholarship in 1928, and her uncle, Jesuit Father Joseph Tetlow, was dean of arts and sciences. In addition, her aunt, Beth Gaudin, is an alumna, and Gaudin’s husband Felix chaired the alumni association.    

“The many Jesuits in my family may have secretly raised me for this role without telling me,” she joked. “Loyola means the world to me, and I believed that my combination of skills and experiences could help the university at this crucial moment. I also bring useful outside perspectives but deeply understand and value Loyola’s core mission.”

“With her deep roots in New Orleans and Jesuit values, she was born for this job,” affirmed Dennis Cuneo, trustee and chair of the Presidential Search Committee.

Tetlow, who graduated from Tulane University and Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, views Loyola as a tight-knit community of people committed to Jesuit values and excellent education.

“The passion and commitment the Loyola community brings to its work has always impressed me,” she said.

Strong background  

Tetlow brings to Loyola a wealth of experience, as well as strong community, donor and industry relationships.

At Tulane, she was most recently senior vice president and chief of staff, a key strategic adviser to the president, overseeing board relations and government and community affairs; and leading special policy efforts on issues including campus safety, race and diversity, and campus sexual misconduct reforms. She also was the Felder-Fayard Professor of Law at Tulane.

During her time at Tulane, enrollment increased, as did retention and fundraising, and the university experienced great cultural, community and financial transformation, Murret said.

Lead candidate

Tetlow emerged in a nationwide search as the top selection for Loyola’s president from a large, diverse pool of accomplished leaders. Her ties to the local Catholic and Jesuit communities and vision of national excellence for the university played a large factor in her being hired by Loyola. She received a majority recommendation from the search committee, composed of members of the Society of Jesus, the Loyola University New Orleans board of trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni, Murret said.

The university is confident that Tetlow will bring a new and vibrant energy to Loyola while preserving its Jesuit mission. 

“I am absolutely thrilled about the selection of Tania Tetlow as our next president,” said Robért LeBlanc ’00, former trustee, said. “She embodies the essence of Loyola University New Orleans in a way that is difficult to articulate but evokes our mission, and she is the perfect 21st-century leader for our university. This is a sensational choice for Loyola.”

Tetlow has served on a variety of nonprofit boards and city commissions. At the mayor’s request, she led a turnaround of the NOPD Sex Crimes Unit. After Hurricane Katrina, she chaired the New Orleans Public Library Board and raised $7 million to rebuild flooded branches. She was selected for the British American Project, a bilateral leadership organization, and later served as its U.S. chair.

 “I have known Tania for a long time,” President Emeritus Jesuit Father James C. Carter, Ph.D., said. “She is a regular attendee at the Ignatius Chapel community Mass on Sunday and sings in the choir. She has an outstanding professional and academic reputation. She has also strong connections to Loyola and the Jesuit order. I have complete confidence that she will promote our Jesuit identity as well as any Jesuit could.” 

Tetlow will begin as president of Loyola University New Orleans in September and immediately tackle the university’s plans to balance its budget and build resources.

“My mission will be to execute that plan well, to continue to contain costs and grow revenues, all while building on Loyola’s greatest strengths,” she said.

Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald.org.

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