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Loyola celebrates the life of Janet Headley, Ph.D.

Janet Headley, Ph.D.

Known for her support of her students and their success, Janet Headley, Ph.D., professor of fine arts and former chair of the department, died April 5.

Headley came to Loyola in 1986 as an assistant professor after teaching at University of Maryland, College Park, and College of Notre Dame. During her time at Loyola, she chaired the fine arts department for 20 years and spearheaded the creation of separate majors in the separate fields of music, theater, art history, and visual arts.

“Her devotion to students and her fellow faculty members was truly exceptional,” said Amanda M. Thomas, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs. “She wanted the best for each of her students and was animated by the opportunities she had for mentorship through advising in Messina and with students studying art history. She had a multitude of alumni with whom she had kept in touch, following their careers and lives.”

Headley also secured the space where the fine arts department is now on the Evergreen campus, according to Gayla McGlamery, Ph.D., associate professor of English. The space was formerly home to the College Center pool, which was demolished, and is now the home of the Black Box theater, classrooms, studio space, and student lounge space.

“I will remember her for all these things, but especially her generosity, intelligence, and wicked wit,” McGlamery said.

Headley earned her bachelor’s in art history from the University of Delaware. She received her master’s at Temple University and her doctorate at University of Maryland, College Park. She was the Andrew Mellon Faculty Fellowship in the Humanities at Harvard University from 1991 to 1992. She also had fellowships with the Smithsonian over her years as a scholar.

Janet Headley, Ph.D., with students

At Loyola, she was known for being dedicated to advising and mentoring her students throughout their time at Loyola and beyond.

Headley often spent her weekends taking her art history students on field trips to area museums, so the students could see the art they were studying in the classroom in person, according to Martha Taylor, Ph.D., professor and chair of classics.

Taylor also remembered Headley as generous and friendly.

“She could make a connection with anyone because she was so genuinely kind and interested in everyone she met. Her generosity was shown by how many Loyola faculty had significant life events celebrated at her house,” Taylor said.

Headley would host parties at her home for her fellow faculty members, from baby showers to book parties for fine arts faculty who became published.

To her colleagues, she will be treasured as a dedicated and thoughtful professor and administrator.

“Whenever I met her for coffee or for lunch—or just to sit in her office to catch up—she made me feel that there was nothing more important to her, nothing more interesting in the world, than being there, in those moments, with me,” Cindy Moore, Ph.D., associate vice president of academic student affairs and professor of writing.

Headley was predeceased by her husband, Phillip McCaffrey, Ph.D., a much-loved English professor at Loyola and a former chair of the writing department. 


A memorial service will be held on Sunday, May 5, at 3 p.m. in Loyola's Alumni Memorial Chapel. Immediately following the service, all are welcome to continue fellowship at a reception in the 4th Floor Program Room in the Andrew White Student Center.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Janet’s memory can be made to the Janet Headley Memorial Fund. The fund will support student activities and/or scholarship in the Fine Arts Department of Loyola College of Arts and Sciences. For questions or info on how to make a gift, you may contact the office of advancement at 410-617-2694.