Loyola University Maryland

Presidential Search

Reflecting on the presidential search with gratitude

This message was sent to the Loyola community on Nov. 01, 2021.

Dear Members of the Loyola Community,

With the search for the 25th president of Loyola University Maryland now completed, we are writing to express our thanks to all of you who contributed, in so many ways, to this complex, months-long, and important process. We know we have selected the best possible leader for Loyola, and we are excited for Terry Sawyer to assume the presidency on Jan. 1, 2022. 

We also want to take this opportunity to expand on the communications and information we provided during the presidential search. It is a good moment to reflect more fully, and with great pride, on the thoughtful, deliberate, and engaged approach that we as a community took in this most critical work in the appointment of our next president, who will be our first lay president in the history of Loyola.

Overview of the Process

First, we are extremely grateful for the diverse group of experienced professionals representing the Board of Trustees, faculty, administrators, and current Loyola students that served on the Search Committee. When we launched our search with Isaacson, Miller (IM) in April this year, we began by holding information-gathering sessions, via Zoom, with every key Loyola constituency. IM led more than 20 listening sessions, ranging from open fora with students, faculty, administrators, staff, the Jesuit community, and ALANA faculty, to smaller group meetings with board members, academic deans, and several important representative groups (including the President’s Council on Equity and Inclusion; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Alumni Advisory Board; the Alumni Association Advisory Board; and student leaders), to one-on-one meetings with senior administrators.

These discussions provided the Loyola community with an opportunity to share their reflections on the state of the institution and their aspirations for its future under a new president. The information gathered in these conversations also formed the foundation for the position profile finalized by the Search Committee in late May. This profile served as the basis for the selection rubric that the Search Committee used throughout its process to ensure objectivity and equitable consideration of all potential candidates. 

Candidate Pool
Over the ensuing months, IM cast a wide net to canvas potential candidates, engaging with more than 200 higher education leaders in order to build a robust and diverse pool of candidates. The candidate pool cut across multiple dimensions of diversity, including religious, lay, gender, ethnic, racial, academic, and non-academic backgrounds. During these months, the Search Committee convened on a regular basis with the search firm to review the emerging candidate pool, to offer feedback and input, to identify candidates for interviews, and to prepare for and hold those interviews with their selected candidate group.  

Leadership by the Search Committee
We are proud and grateful that the Search Committee worked extensive hours, preparing thoughtfully for their meetings and engaging diligently, collegially, and collaboratively in these conversations, sharing and exchanging different perspectives, engaging in open discussion and deliberation, and moving toward important decisions. Following their first Zoom interviews in August, the Search Committee held second sessions in September with a subset of the selected candidates to further inform their decision-making. From those meetings, the Search Committee developed a list of unranked finalists recommended to the Board of Trustees for their final evaluation and selection.

The Board’s Responsibility
There is no more important duty or decision for a Board of Trustees than the selection of an institution’s president. We are proud that Loyola’s Trustees assumed that responsibility with a reverence for faith, a commitment to our Jesuit mission, and a focus on the future of Loyola University Maryland. An eight-person sub-committee of the Board of Trustees was established, which included five trustees who were members of the Search Committee, to interview the finalists and present their findings to the full Board. This sub-committee met for about four hours in person with each of the finalists, engaging in in-depth dialogue and interviews. Additionally, IM performed detailed on-list and off-list reference checks on each of the finalists.

Based on the foregoing and considering the expectations and criteria outlined in the position profile, the eight-person sub-committee—and subsequently the full Board—reached a unanimous decision to appoint Terry Sawyer as our next president and embark on an exciting new chapter in the life of Loyola.

A Promising Future
We recognize that this has been a challenging year for many of you. We take pride in knowing that this process has been conducted in a fair, inclusive, and equitable fashion and that we now have a dedicated new president to guide us in the coming years. We hope you will join us for the special event the Board of Trustees is hosting to welcome incoming President Sawyer to his position on Thursday, Nov. 4. We will begin with 12:10 p.m. Mass, followed by a brief ceremony at 1 p.m. in Alumni Memorial Chapel, and conclude with a 1:30 p.m. picnic on the Quad. We hope to see you there as we celebrate this important moment and look forward to a promising future together.

Again, we thank each of you for all that you have done for Loyola during this transition. As we look forward to our new chapter, we are grateful for all that you do, every day, to make Loyola an outstanding university, deeply committed to its Jesuit, Catholic mission and tradition.

With best regards,

Gerry Holthaus, Search Committee Chair, Trustee
Jim Forbes, Chair, Board of Trustees