“Jesuit education is about challenging assumptions, questioning the way things are, and pushing for them to be more just.” - President Tetlow
“This is your moment to become the person you want to be in the world – act with integrity and you will never regret it.” -President Tetlow
Letters to Loyola is a weekly email series from President Tetlow with her latest thoughts or questions for the Loyola community to consider together. Faculty, staff and students are automatically subscribed; others may sign up here.
Tania Tetlow, J.D., is the 17th university president of Loyola University New Orleans. She is the first woman and the first layperson to lead Loyola since the Society of Jesus founded the university in 1912. President Tetlow is also the fourth woman president, as well as the youngest woman president, to lead one of the 27 colleges and universities in the U.S. that comprise the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU.) She joined Loyola in August, 2018 and over the last three years has ushered in a new and exciting era at the 109-year-old Jesuit, Catholic university.
Under her leadership, Loyola successfully completed a turnaround after the most challenging period in its financial history, improving its bond rating, repositioning university finances through careful budgeting, increased retention, continued enrollment growth, and expansion of online, graduate and professional programs. This fall, Loyola happily welcomes its largest first-year class in university history, with more than 20 percent first-year students above target.
A dynamic leader, President Tetlow has also set a clear and attainable vision for the future. The university’s new Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence and Strategic Plan 2020: Courage and Creativity capitalize on Loyola’s strength in diversity, equity and inclusion, while encouraging sustainable and meaningful improvements to programs and enrollment growth. New academic programs created in response to local and regional needs place increased emphasis on healthcare. A new undergraduate nursing program created in partnership with national industry leader Ochsner Health System creates clinical placement opportunities for students and fills a critical gap for the system.
A dedicated fundraiser, President Tetlow oversaw the completion of the $100 million Faith in the Future campaign, Loyola’s most ambitious fundraising campaign in history. Funds raised now go primarily toward scholarships, endowed professorships, improvements to academic programs, and construction of the new Chapel of St. Ignatius and Gayle and Tom Benson Jesuit Center, to be completed in 2022. New student hardship and digital equity funds help ensure that students are able to complete their Loyola education.
When the COVID-19 global pandemic took root in New Orleans in March, 2020, President Tetlow ensured the general safety of the Loyola community and a smooth transition to online and hybrid operations with minimal impact to finances. Consistent, clear communication and new virtual marketing and recruitment tools have ensured that Loyola not only survived, but in many ways, thrived, taking advantage of new technology and bringing lessons learned into future operations.
Prior to joining Loyola, President Tetlow served as senior vice president and chief of staff as well as the Felder-Fayard Professor of Law at Tulane University, where she was key strategic adviser to President Michael Fitts. As a law professor, President Tetlow’s research helped persuade the Department of Justice to reimagine its regulation of constitutional policing. She directed Tulane’s Domestic Violence Law Clinic and raised millions in federal grant funds.
Before her career in academia, President Tetlow was an associate at Phelps Dunbar, litigating complex commercial transactions. She also served as an Assistant United States Attorney, prosecuting everything from violent crime to fraud cases.
President Tetlow graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a bachelor of arts degree in American studies and is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School as well as a Harry Truman Fellow. A Catholic and a New Orleanian, President Tetlow has deep family ties to the Jesuits and has been a member of the Ignatius Chapel community at Loyola since she was six years old.
The Rev. Justin Daffron, S.J.
Interim President Select
The Rev. Justin Daffron, S.J. was named Interim President Select of Loyola University New Orleans in February, 2022. He brings a wealth of higher education administrative experience to his post, having served as the Vice President for Mission and Identity at Loyola University New Orleans since July 2019 and previously held top posts at fellow Jesuit universities Saint Louis University, Loyola University Chicago and Spring Hill College.
His key strengths are innovative thought leadership and vision, a passion for building community, and desire to accompany students through a transformational experience. Throughout his career, he has built relationships that foster philanthropic investment, demonstrated stewardship of human and financial resources, and advocated for justice, diversity, equity and inclusion. Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives have long been important to him and over the course of his career, he has been responsible for bringing in a total of over $5 million in grants to create systems of support for low-income and first-generation students.
At Loyola University New Orleans, Daffron served as a critical member of President Tania Tetlow’s leadership team, starting in April 2019. In 2019-2020, he engaged the entire Loyola community in the Mission Priority Examen, a self-study process conducted at the request of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus and with the support of the Jesuit Provincials in the United States and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). This exhaustive exploration of the university’s Jesuit, Catholic identity resulted in the successful reaffirmation of Loyola’s Jesuit Catholic identity by the Society of Jesus.
Naturally, the self-study process of the Examen heavily overlapped development of the university’s strategic plan, Courage and Creativity 2020. Father Daffron played a key role in the plan’s development, jointly leading a trustee task force to advance ideas for long term strategies that would have the potential for strengthening Loyola’s reputation and financial position. He also co-chaired a board strategic planning committee that authored Loyola in the 21st Century—an action plan to address future institutional challenges and opportunities in response to the global pandemic.
As Vice President for Mission and Ministry, Father Daffron led a committee that completed the design of the planned $6 million St. Ignatius Chapel and Benson Jesuit Center, created a formation program for the Board of Trustees in Jesuit Catholic identity and diversity, equity and inclusion, and taught undergraduates about Ignatian Spirituality. He also provided interim executive leadership for online education for 18 months, making way for a new Dean of Online Learning and the future City College.
Prior to joining Loyola New Orleans, Father Daffron served as Special Assistant to the President of Saint Louis University, where he developed growth strategies, particularly in the health field, and a strategic plan for transformative undergraduate education. At Loyola Chicago, as Associate Provost for Strategic Planning and Academic Services, he led a task force positioning the university for the future; he also served as the Vice President for Advancement, leading fundraising and alumni relations. At Spring Hill College, he was Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs.
Father Daffron has served on the boards of Xavier University in Ohio, Spring Hill College and a number of Jesuit high schools around the country, namely: St. Ignatius College Prep, Sacred Heart Academy, Loyola Academy, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, and Strake Jesuit College Prep. Currently, he is the School Chaplain for the Academy of the Sacred Heart, New Orleans, pastoral assistant for the Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, and a member of NOLA Ready Volunteer Corps.
A cum laude business graduate of Centenary College, Father Daffron did his novitiate training at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, La. He holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from St. Louis University, a Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif. and a Ph. D. in higher education administration from Loyola University Chicago, where he wrote his dissertation “Jesuits working in higher education: Satisfaction with the core curriculum at American Jesuit Colleges and Universities.”