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Loyola celebrates the life of Andrew Ciofalo, professor emeritus of communication

Black and white photo of Andrew Ciofalo sitting in his office at Loyola

Andrew Ciofalo, professor emeritus of communication, passed away on March 7, 2024. Ciofalo, who established what would become Loyola’s communication department, was 89.

A visionary entrepreneur with a talent for networking and innovative ideas, Ciofalo came to Loyola in 1983 to lead the creation of Loyola’s new writing and media department. Loyola was evolving under the leadership of the president at the time, the late Fr. Joseph Sellinger, S.J.

“Loyola was starting to go through Fr. Sellinger’s upgrade from being a local boys Catholic commuter school to being what we are now,” said Elliot King, Ph.D., professor of communication, who recalled that, at the time, Loyola wanted to establish a journalism program. “Andy being Andy, he didn’t set up a journalism program. He set up a journalism program, a public relations program, and an advertising program. One person, three programs. He was a big thinker.”

It was partly the newness to the department that drew Ciofalo—a native of Brooklyn, New York—to this Jesuit, liberal arts school in Baltimore, where he taught courses in travel writing, book publishing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, and opinion writing.

“What particularly attracted me to Loyola was that its Catholicity struck a responsive chord in my innermost desire to teach in a value-centered college,” he said in a story published in The Bulletin, an employee newsletter at Loyola, in 2002. “In addition, there was a challenge of offering a new major for a new department.”

In addition to hiring the faculty to build the new program, Ciofalo brought to the department a focus on experiential learning and a vision to train backpack journalists at a time when that wasn’t a standard term.

“He was constantly learning himself,” said Mike Memoli, ’04, White House correspondent for NBC News who met Ciofalo while he was a communication major at Loyola. “From afar, Andy might seem like not the most sophisticated or modern person, but his mind was always trying to come up with new ideas. Maybe not all of them succeeded, but he really was so far ahead of his time.”

In 2002, Ciafolo launched the Cagli Program in International Reporting for Loyola, creating a multimedia study abroad program in Cagli, Italy. That program served as an idea for ieiMedia (the Institute for Education in International Media), a multimedia training program that he founded and led in locations around the world. The Cagli Program was the beginning, training students in how to tell stories while handling all the reporting and capturing video on their own.

“That was the whole concept of Cagli. You needed to be able to tell a story in multiple ways,” said Memoli, who found that that journalistic training served him well as he was launching his career. “Andy doesn’t get enough credit for what he built with Cagli—and then iei. He knew that it wasn’t going to be enough to do one thing. You needed to be able to do everything.”

One conversation Memoli had with Ciofalo has stayed with him for years.

“I said, ‘How can you keep going back to Cagli? I feel like you’re going to keep telling the same stories in this town.’ He said, ‘Mike, there are 10,000 people. There are 10,000 stories to tell.’ That’s what journalism is.”

Ciofalo was committed to offering Loyola students experiential learning that is part of his legacy within the department.

“Andy’s passion for experiential learning ran deep,” said Kevin Atticks, DCD, ’97, who knew Ciofalo as a student and then as a member of the Loyola faculty. “He developed the structure for Apprentice House Press, launched the Cagli Program in Italy (which led to his ieiMedia program), and crafted student journalism cohorts at The Baltimore Sun. All with humor, a certain cynicism, and a dose of mischievousness along the way.”

Black and white headshot of Andrew CiofaloCiofalo told the story of how he met Atticks in an elevator on campus and persuaded him to become a communication major. In 2004, Ciofalo was instrumental in starting Loyola's Apprentice House Press, the first student-run publishing house in the country. He gave the reins to Atticks, who still leads it today—and is also Maryland’s secretary of agriculture.

“Andy was always the entrepreneurial spirit behind the department and always looking for new opportunities,” King said.

King recalls how after he got his Ph.D., he went to an academic conference to apply for a teaching position. He applied for every job except the one at Loyola because the ad for the position was so negative. Ciofalo realized King was a Columbia graduate like him and came rushing across the room to tell him to apply. He did, and he got the job.

“It turns out that that was the best fit for me,” King said. “Students loved him—really loved him—and he mentored many of our most distinguished alumni. He had this technique, where he’d start off with this really gruff ‘You all stink,’ and then by the end of the semester, ‘You’re all the greatest thing since sliced bread because of your semester with me.’”

Ciofalo earned a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Brooklyn College and an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University. Before coming to Loyola, he wrote and edited for a number of publications, including New York Daily News, Manhattan East, TV Guide, New York Herald Tribune, and Jersey Business Review. He also served as a lecturer for Brooklyn College, director of development for the New York Institute of Technology, and director of college relations and development for Bronx Community College.

Even while at Loyola, he stayed active professionally outside academia, serving as travel editor for The Catholic Review from 1994-2000 and joining a small literary book publishing company called Galileo Press as executive editor from 1988-1991.

At Loyola, Ciofalo identified and recruited affiliate faculty members who could share their real-life professional experiences, helped bring Mark Bowden, ’73, on as a journalist-in-residence, and provided the rationale for the department’s first computer lab, as well as the Caulfield Lecture Series, which brings journalists to campus to speak on timely topics.

“He had a very unique style. He was not an academic. He was one who had hands-on professional experience,” said Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D., professor of communication and founding executive director of the Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice. “For him, it was not about thinking of the logistics of the field, it was about learning how to tell the story. It was about learning how to look at experiences and be able to document them.”

Whitehead met Ciofalo when she first arrived at Loyola during its Year of the City in 2006-2007. At that time, she was hired because of her experience as a documentary filmmaker. Ciofalo encouraged her to pursue her Ph.D., which she did, leaving Loyola and returning in 2008 to join the faculty. Ciofalo spoke with Whitehead about the importance of considering her path at Loyola.

“Andy was able to work in an environment without a Ph.D. but also continuing to expand his borders. He said Loyola’s a place that you can keep expanding your borders,” Whitehead said. “He said that timing is everything. At Loyola, whatever you want to do, you have to take a look around and read the room, because timing is everything. With launching the Karson Institute and everything that I’ve done, I think very long and hard about timing. I don’t think the Institute could have happened at another time.”

After retiring from Loyola in 2010 and being named professor emeritus, Ciofalo continued to write and run ieiMedia, which has programs in Italy, France, Germany, Israel, Spain, and Norway. In 2018, he moved to Moscow with his wife, Dr. Olga Timofeeva, to care for her three grandchildren there. In November 2023, he published his first book, American in Moscow: Final Thoughts on Life, Love and Liberty.

Ciofalo is survived by his wife, his daughter, Terry Anne Ciofalo, ’87; his son, David Andrew Ciofalo, ’90; his stepdaughter, Jennifer Martyn Tosh, ’94; and four grandchildren, Andrew Gordon Ciofalo, who is a junior at Loyola; Olivia Ciofalo; Emma Tosh; and Jack Tosh.


Loyola University Maryland will remember Ciofalo in the 12:10 p.m. Mass on April 8, 2024, in Alumni Memorial Chapel.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Loyola's Alumni Memorial Chapel, with a reception afterward on the Evergreen campus.