Loyola University Maryland


Meet the Staff

Messina Main Phone Line: 410-617-2669
Messina Direct E-mail: messina@loyola.edu
Office Location: Maryland Hall 145 

Michael Puma 
Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Maryland Hall 145

Barbara Kurz
Director, Messina
Maryland Hall 145

Sarah E. Lewis
Assistant Director, Messina
Bowman Hall 227

Carla Taliaferro
Program Assistant, Messina and Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Maryland Hall 145


Headshot photo of Mike PumaMichael Puma, Dean of Undergraduate Studies(he, him)

University of Maryland - College Park
Current Doctoral Student, Higher Education Administration

Syracuse University
Master of Science, Higher Education Administration

Fordham University
Bachelor of Science, Psychology and American Studies

Michael Puma was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and is a graduate of Fordham University (BS, Psychology & American Studies) and Syracuse University (MsEd, Higher Education). He is currently completing a doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration at the University of Maryland, College Park. He spent his first nine years at Loyola in the Office of Student Life serving as both an Assistant Director and Associate Director for Living-Learning Initiatives. In 2011, Puma was named the Student Development Director of Messina. As Director of Messina, he designed and implemented yearly training and professional development opportunities for over 200 faculty, administrators, staff members and student leaders. Additionally, organized programming associated with the first-year Common Text, facilitated academic support sessions for Summer Orientation and Fall Welcome Week and served as a resource for first-year advisors. In 2017, he was recognized as an Outstanding First-Year Advocate Award by the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

In his role as Dean, Mike works closely with the Academic Advising and Support Center, The Study, and the academic components of Messina to help individual students in their formation during challenging times and to develop programs and practices that raise the academic success of all students. At Loyola, Mike has also served as president of Loyola's Phi Beta Kappa chapter and is a member of OUT Loyola - Loyola's LGBTQ group for faculty, staff and administrators. He also is a trained Loyola Safe Zone and Step Up! Bystander Intervention Facilitator and a member of the Strategic Plan steering committee.

Barbara Kurz, Director of Messina (she, her)Headshot of Barbara Kurz, Associate Director of Messina

Arkansas Tech University
Master of Science, College Student Development

Kansas State University
Bachelor of Arts, English Creative Writing
Minor in Leadership Studies

Barbara Kurz was born in Brazil but claims Kansas City as home. Barbara joined the Loyola community as the Associate Director of Messina in February 2022, and is now excited to serve as the Director of Messina. Prior to joining Loyola, Barbara served as the Assistant Director of Housing Facilities at Johns Hopkins University. Barbara has a strong background in Student Life, student development, and leadership development. Working with first year students has always been a passion for Barbara and she is thrilled to work with Messina students. Outside of work, Barbara enjoys being a “foodie” and trying out new restaurants with her partner, reading, and spending time with her dog, Ellie.


Sarah E. Lewis, Assistant Director, Messina (she, her)Headshot photo of Sarah Lewis

Loyola University Maryland
Data Science – Analytics, Micro-credential

Loyola University Maryland
Master of Arts, Liberal Studies

Winthrop University
Bachelor of Arts, Visual Arts
Minor in Mathematics

Originally and proudly from Baltimore, Sarah moved to Japan after completing her undergraduate degree as a participant in the JET Programme from 2009 to 2014, living and working as an English teacher in the port city of Kobe. After returning to the US, she came to Loyola as a program assistant supporting the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Messina, Pre-Health Programs, and National Fellowships, and is excited to continue to support Loyola students, faculty, and staff as assistant director of Messina. Around campus, Sarah also enjoys getting to know first-year students as a Messina mentor, participating in the Common Text Committee, playing chamber music as one-third of the Loyola-based ensemble “3 in Threes,” and showing off photos of her rescue pups, Opal and Luna. She is also in the process of completing her second master’s degree in the technical track of Loyola’s data science program.


Carla Taliaferro, Program Assistant, Messina and Dean of Undergraduate Studies (she, her)

Headshot of Carla TaliaferroEducation:
University of Maryland Baltimore County
Bachelor of Science, Information Systems

Born and raised in Baltimore, Carla worked for Johns Hopkins University supporting two professors in the area of Women, Work, and the Family; and then enlisted in the United States Marine Corps serving in California, Japan, and Mississippi as a Data Controller and a Recruiter. After her discharge Carla made a career of servicing the public through settling insurance claims with a major automobile insurance company. She recently returned to her roots in the academic arena, aspiring to assist in the growth and development of Loyola’s first year students through the Messina Program.



Several students running with arms linked in a grassy field
Your first year

What, exactly, is Messina?

A closer look at Loyola University Maryland's first-year experience.

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