Loyola University Maryland


Meet the Staff

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

Mary Ellen Wade
Associate Director
Maryland Hall 145

Emily Poyraz
Assistant Director
Thea Bowman Hall 227

Ms. Sarah E. Lewis
Program Assistant for the Dean of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies,
Messina, National Fellowships, and Pre-Health Programs


Messina Main Phone Line: 410-617-2669
Messina Direct E-mail: messina@loyola.edu


Elissa Derrickson, Dean of Undergraduate Studies & Faculty Director of MessinaHeadshot 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 Co-Director of Messina

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 Green Dot Facilitator and a member of Loyola's Commitment to Justice Committee. 

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 and serves as Secretary of the Ednor Gardens - Lakeside Civic Association in Baltimore City.  

Mary Ellen Wade Staff PictureMary Ellen Wade, Associate Director of Messina

Wilmington University
Current Doctoral Student, Higher Education Leadership

Rowan University
Master of Arts, Higher Education Administration

Rowan University
Bachelor of Arts, History with a Secondary Education Certification

In Fall 2013, Mary Ellen Wade joined Messina as Associate Director. In this role, she coordinates the planning, implementation and evaluation of assessment initiatives and fosters development of modules for first-year seminar facilitators to utilize in their Messina courses. Mary Ellen also serves as a Messina mentor for two Messina course pairings. Beyond Messina, Mary Ellen supports the Division of Student Development as the co-chair of the Research Consultation Group, the Loyola liaison to the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators (JASPA), and as a hearing officer for Student Conduct. In summer 2017, Mary Ellen was selected to be a part of Elon University's Center for Engaged Learning’s 2017-2019 Research Seminar on Residential Learning Communities as a High-Impact Practice, conducting research on the relationship between academic and student affairs collaboration and the practice of integrative learning in residential learning communities.

In Fall 2016, she was awarded the Dedication to Professional Service Award by the Maryland Chapter of the Association of College Personnel Administrators (MCPA). She authored a case study that appeared in the 2017 book What Makes the First-Year Seminar High Impact? An Exploration of Effective Educational Practices. In 2020, she received the Outstanding First Year Advocate award from the National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition. 

For five years prior to working with Messina, Mary Ellen was an Assistant Director of Student Life for the Hillside and Gardens Areas at Loyola. During her time in Student Life, she coordinated Resident Assistant Training and Staff Development, Student Staff Selection, and helped to develop the Be a Good Hound campaign. Mary Ellen was also a co-instructor for FE100 and participated in the Encounter El Salvador immersion experience in May 2009.

Prior to Loyola, Mary Ellen previously worked at Georgetown University as a Hall Director. Mary Ellen is originally from Southern New Jersey. Professional interests include fostering connections to institutional mission and values among students and her personal interests include painting, hiking, and road trips.

Emily Kappauf Staff PictireEmily Poyraz, Assistant Director

Loyola University Maryland
Current Master’s Student, Curriculum and Instruction for Social Justice

West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Bachelor of Science, Middle Grades Education (4-8)—Mathematics and Science

Emily joined Messina as a Student Success Specialist in the Fall of 2018.  Prior to joining the Messina team, Emily taught Math and Science at the Middle School level in both Queen Anne’s County and Baltimore County, Maryland.  She is passionate about education, growth mindset, and restorative practices in the student transition process.  Emily enjoys helping others and looks forward to supporting Messina faculty and students in the upcoming year.  Personal interests include community service, kickboxing, and reading.

Abigail Vitaliano standing in front of the Humanities Building on a snowy day
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