Tania Tetlow, a Harvard-educated lawyer who began her career as a federal prosecutor and rose to second place at Tulane University, has been named the first laywoman and president of Loyola University.
The board that governs Loyola approved Tetlow, 46, as its 17th leader on Friday, eliminating it from a list of three finalists. All the presidents of Loyola before her have been Jesuit priests.
Tetlow said she felt compelled to run for the position in the 114-year-old Jesuit institution because of her Jesuit commitment to public service. . Tetlow has worked for years as an outspoken advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
"I was very educated with the values and mission of the Jesuits … and I felt a sense of duty, that they are supposed to make good use of their talents," he said. "When Loyola thought they might need me, I knew I had to step forward."
While his appointment breaks with tradition, the Tetlow family has deep ties to the religious order of the Jesuits. Tetlow grew up in New Orleans, the daughter of a former Jesuit priest who left religious life to raise a family. His uncle is also a Jesuit priest.
Tetlow's legal, academic and public advocacy work also embodies the ideals of the Catholic university, said Robert LeBlanc, a search committee member who chose it.
"What made Tania so obvious that in her daily life practices, she already understands and embodies the Loyola culture … and, frankly, she has always done it," said LeBlanc. "It was her cultural ability and ability to lead and represent the university that made her the ideal candidate and the perfect choice."
Tetlow is expected to draw on her experience as vice president and principal director of Tulane . of staff to stabilize Loyola's finances after five years of layoffs, program cuts and other belt-tightening measures.
It will have to inspire confidence among the faculty of the university, which voted twice that they had "no confidence" in her predecessor, the Rev. Kevin Wildes, during her 14-year term.
And she will have to prove herself a capable rain for the Uptown institution by making donors and followers of the Loyola network grow.
The work that Loyola has already done as part of its strategic planning process has given the university a good start, said Tetlow. He intends to spend his first 100 days listening and talking to students, teachers, staff and alumni.
In addition to their links with the Jesuits, the Tetlow family has deep connections with the Loyola community. Her grandfather attended school with a football scholarship in 1928, her two parents taught at the university and she still attends church in the Ignatius Chapel of Loyola.
"The Jesuits are delighted that our first lay president has such a strong Catholic faith and a Jesuit environment," said Billy Huete, rector of the Jesuit school community. "Although we were definitely looking for these attributes in all possible candidates, it would be difficult to find a qualified lay person who has a greater understanding and appreciation of what the Society of Jesus intends to be and do in our contemporary world."
After attending Tulane and then at Harvard Law School, Tetlow returned to New Orleans to work for Phelps Dunbar before joining the Federal Prosecutor's Office. From there he passed to the Tulane Law School.
Tetlow is perhaps best known for her advocacy of domestic violence and sexual assault during her time in law school. She spent nearly a decade as director of the Tulane Domestic Violence Clinic and helped design a plan to solve endemic problems in the way the New Orleans Police Department handles sexual assault cases. It was also chosen by the US Department of State. UU As one of four people to represent the country at the international conference on violence against women in Beijing.
In 2015, Tetlow was hired as chief of staff of Tulane's president, Mike Fitts.
"It has been an incredible formation … because I worked with the president of Tulane in almost all aspects of his work and it is rare to have that kind of breadth," he said. "You're usually in that kind of academic depth at the university, I've divided myself and I've learned a lot."
In an email, Fitts said that although the news from Tetlow's appointment inspires many emotions, "the dominant one is pride" for someone who has been a "mainstay". "From the community of Tulane for decades.
"The Loyola community will soon learn what Tulane has known for years, that Tania Tetlow is an extraordinary and visionary leader, an exceptional and impartial colleague and an example of trust and integrity," Fitts said. "She leaves Tulane with our deepest gratitude and our best wishes for every success. We could not ask for a better neighbor. "
Wildes, who will hold a position at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, said that the most important thing for Tetlow is to listen to his faculty and staff.
"We have worked hard in recent years and I feel good about leaving university," he said "But no matter how familiar with that, I think it's good to hear all points of view."
The transition occurs when Loyola has been struggling for half a decade, with the low enrollment rate prompting five rounds of layoffs, restructuring and incorporation into the envelope to pay for operating expenses.
Tetlow said he is not yet in a position to comment on what could be done differently to move forward, but praised the gains the university has made in enrollment and retention, as well as the commitment of its students and teachers.
"I do not see anything that the school can change or do differently," he said. "I am eager to enter the trenches with all the people who have worked so hard on all these issues, I know that everyone here is really focused on execution and committed."
Writer Jeff Adelson contributed to this report.