Dr. Xavier Cole has been named president of Loyola University New Orleans (LOYNO), the storied Jesuit institution in Louisiana announced on March 23.
He is the second layperson to fill the role in the 119-year history of the school, and the first African American or person of color. Cole succeeds Dr. Tania Tetlow, who stepped down in early 2022.
“I see my role at Loyola New Orleans as an opportunity to work intentionally with a world-class faculty and staff to help form the next generation of ethical and moral leaders,” Cole said in a welcome message to the university community.
“It’s a chance for me to give back to Loyola New Orleans a fraction of what an Ignatian formation has given to me.”
Raised in Biloxi, Mississippi, roughly 90 miles from New Orleans, Cole has served as vice president of student affairs at Marquette University since 2016, following stops at Washington College and Loyola University Maryland. He completed his doctorate in higher education management at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, writing his dissertation on mission and identity programs and Jesuit universities in the United States.
Cole has said that his experience with Jesuit education at Loyola Maryland eventually prompted his return to the tradition at Marquette, where he became co-chair of the Mission Priority Examen. He also served as a visiting team member for the same program at Creighton University and Seattle University.
“Dr. Cole is a uniquely experienced higher education administrator who has dedicated his career to the study and preservation of Jesuit, Catholic institutions in America, and to the service of their students,” said Stephen Landry, chair of the board of trustees at LOYNO.
Cole is also a Catholic and served on the parish council of the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee, a Jesuit parish on the campus of Marquette. He joins a vibrant Black Catholic community in New Orleans, a majority-Black city where a plurality of residents adheres to the faith.
On Friday, March 24, one week after he was unanimously elected to the LOYNO presidency, Cole was officially introduced to the university community in person, speaking of his optimism about the new position.
“One thing you're going to learn about me is that I'm a glass-half-full guy. I am a generally joyful guy, and I'm absolutely a hopeful guy,” he said.
“I'll be a hopeful leader.”
In Milwaukee, Cole’s colleagues have expressed their appreciation for his service and his dedication to the university’s mission.
“His genuine care was felt across campus, especially during his leadership of our COVID-19 Response Team,” said Marquette president Michael R. Lovell.
“He has positively impacted countless facets of the university, and I look forward to working with him as a presidential colleague at Loyola New Orleans.”
Cole will begin his tenure at LOYNO on June 1.
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger and a seminarian with the Josephites.