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 

Elissa Derrickson, Ph.D.
Dean of Undergraduate Studies & Faculty Director of Messina
Maryland Hall 145

Michael Puma 
Student Development Director of Messina
Maryland Hall 145

Barbara Kurz
Associate Director, Messina
Maryland Hall 145

Sarah E. Lewis
Assistant Director, Messina
Bowman Hall 227



Elissa Derrickson, Dean of Undergraduate Studies & Faculty Director of Messina (she/her) Headshot of Elissa Derrickson, Dean of Undergraduate Studies

University of Pennsylvania
 Ph.D. Biology

Elissa Derrickson holds a doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania and is an associate professor in the Biology Department. She received the Harry W. Rodgers III Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award early in her career and has been active in engaging students in research, both in the classroom and in her laboratory where her current research focuses on the impact of protein deficient diets on the gastrointestinal tract and on female reproductive success. Her research has resulted in presentation and publication with students in national and international venues. Dr. Derrickson has served as chair of the Academic Senate for seven years, co-chair of a successful Middle States reaccreditation review, Interim Chair of the Biology Department, co-chair of the Pre-Health Professions Committee, and as a member of many university-wide committees. Dr. Derrickson will use her deep and wide-ranging institutional knowledge to help individual students in their formation during challenging times and to develop programs and practices that raise the academic success of all students. In her role as Dean, she works closely with the Academic Advising and Support Center, The Study, and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies. Dr. Derrickson is a member of the Academic Affairs leadership team, and she serves as a resource person for faculty, students, and parents.

Headshot photo of Mike PumaMichael Puma, Student Development Director of Messina (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. Puma 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.  As Associate Director, he helped to coordinate Loyola's First-Year Living Learning Communities and the Ad Infinitum Sophomore Community. He also facilitated the professional staff search recruitment, selection, and training as well as the peer education initiatives for Student Life.  In 2011, Puma was named the Student Development Co-Director of Messina.  Prior to joining the Loyola community, he served as a Resident Director at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.

While at Loyola, Puma has taken part in campus ministry retreats and immersion trips including Spring Break Outreach to Cumberland, MD, Fries, VA, and New Orleans, LA and the Encuentra El Salvador trip. He served as president of Loyola's Phi Beta Kappa chapter from 2009-11 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 University Board on Discipline. 

In 2017, Puma received the Outstanding First Year Advocate award from the National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition.  He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Barbara Kurz, Associate 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 has just joined the Loyola community as the Associate 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.

Abigail Vitaliano standing in front of the Humanities Building on a snowy day
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“Loyola enabled me to become the best version of myself.” A former student reflects on her experience.

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