Donna Woodruff had immediate interest in March when she learned Loyola Maryland would need a new athletic director.
Former Greyhounds athletic director Jim Paquette had just announced that he would step down in June, and Woodruff, in her 13th year at Stony Brook, serving as deputy director of athletics since 2014, thought the Patriot League program would be an ideal promotion.
That hope became reality Tuesday when the university's president, the Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., introduced Woodruff as the school's new assistant vice president and director of athletics in front of administrators, alumni and members of the athletic staff.
"I'm not looking to go places just to go places," said Woodruff, a 49-year-old Philadelphia native. "So, yes, Loyola definitely stood out when I heard the current athletic director was stepping down. I said in my head, 'That's a good job. That's a good place.' "
When Paquette, who led the athletic department since 2010, cited his desire to "pursue new opportunities in collegiate athletics and higher education" as reasons for leaving, according to a news release, Loyola formed a search committee and partnered with Parker Executive Search firm.
That brought Loyola to Woodruff.
"Having this be a Patriot League school, close proximity to Philadelphia and a place that she genuinely thought she could make a contribution were really her criteria," said Woodruff's husband, Mark, Stony Brook's director for facilities and services.
"It definitely is exhausting," Woodruff said of her lengthy audition, "but like I said, very energizing. Now, it might not be as energizing if you weren't finding you matched with the values and the mission and what you were seeing from those people."
The search committee felt the same.
Woodruff, a 1990 graduate of Penn, held administrative roles at her alma mater and Villanova before moving to Stony Brook.
At the Long Island school, she oversaw aspects ranging from financial operations to human resources to student-athlete development and compliance. She also served a four-year term as a member of the NCAA Division I Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Cabinet through July 2016.
Particularly, the search committee was impressed with Woodruff's role in helping Stony Brook, which entered the Division I level in 1999, build a foundation against its tougher competition.
"The success they've had in terms of basketball, lacrosse and soccer was something that the committee definitely recognized," said Jeff Nattans, a co-chair of the search committee and a member of Loyola's board of trustees.
As Woodruff thanked her family and the network of support that helped her reach this point, she couldn't suppress her smile in a suite that overlooked Ridley Athletic Complex, home for Loyola's lacrosse teams.
Woodruff had starred on Penn's lacrosse team, earning three All-Ivy League selections to pair with her two as a field hockey player. She was also on the Quakers' lacrosse and field hockey staffs as an assistant coach after graduating.
"I'm not going to be coaching, and I'm not going to be playing — you wouldn't want me to do either of those," Woodruff joked about her role with Loyola. "I don't know everything about everything, but hopefully I have some good insight and perspective because of my experiences as a student-athlete, a coach and an administrator."
Woodruff expects lacrosse will help boost the Greyhounds' athletic department on a local and national scale.
The men's lacrosse team won the national championship in 2012 and reached the semifinals last season. Though the Greyhounds fell in the first round of this year's tournament, sophomore attackman Pat Spencer is one of five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the nation's best college player.
Woodruff hopes that foundation will grow under her leadership.
"She really was impressive in terms of her leadership qualities, and her ability to bring people together, having a really consensus approach," Nattans said. "Donna's very nice, but she's very, very competitive."