By Doris Yu
November 13, 2015 — Linda LeMura, president of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, is the latest in Le Moyne’s list of groundbreaking firsts: the school was the first Jesuit college founded as a co-educational institution, the first to name a female philosophy department chair, and now the first Jesuit college worldwide to have a lay female president.
In a speech before the Loyola Club of Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30, LeMura expressed her commitment to running a Jesuit university in the modern era. The Loyola Club gathers Jesuit-educated alumni, colleagues and friends for food, fellowship and inspiration, inviting leaders with Jesuit connections to speak at luncheons three times a year. Topics include integrating Jesuit spirituality in everyday life and using spirituality to strengthen communities.
“Change is written into the Jesuit understanding of education. It’s a necessary part of the growth our students both need and desire. But it is also necessary for the institutions that serve these students,” LeMura said. “Yet amid all this change, I take to heart the example of St. Ignatius. It is the common thread of our mission that keeps us, despite all of the shifts and the pivots, on a steady course toward the common good.”
LeMura’s career took many shifts and pivots of its own. Prior to becoming president, LeMura had served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Le Moyne since 2007. She was the dean of arts and sciences from 2003 to 2007. From 1992 to 2003 she had several roles at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, including interim associate dean, professor, graduate program director, chairperson and assistant chairperson in the departments of exercise science and biology and allied health sciences.
A Syracuse native, LeMura was the first in her family to attend college. She received a B.S. in biology and education from Niagara University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in applied physiology from Syracuse University. Her field of research and expertise is pediatric obesity, pediatric applied physiology, lipid metabolism and energy metabolism.
“What we do at Le Moyne, and at Xavier and Georgetown, is that we have special encounters with our students that are sacred,” she said, referencing Pope Francis’ use of the word “encounter” to describe interactions with the marginalized. “Every time we push the envelope and challenge our students intellectually, it’s a form of prayer. Because at the end of the day, we want them to pass it on. At the end of the day, it’s not about them. It’s about taking the gift of education that they’ve received at a Jesuit institution and finding ways to serve the common good.
“[A Jesuit education] distinguishes you from a very crowded pack, because it’s not just about you, but everyone around you and your efforts to make it a better world.”
To learn more about the Loyola Club, visit loyolaclubdc.org.