Maravene Loeschke, an alumna, former professor and dean at Towson University, will be returning to her alma mater as the university's next president, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced Monday, Sept. 19.
Loeschke, currently the president of Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, will take over effective Jan. 1, 2012.
"The beauty of it for me is that I went there, and I got this wonderful education that's been the foundation for my whole career," Loeschke said Monday from her home in Pennsylvania.
"To have the opportunity to go back and serve as president at the end of your career is the most incredible privilege and honor," she said. "I can't even describe to you what it's like to have this awesome responsibility in my hands."
Loeschke, who grew up in the Towson area and attended Parkville High School, received her bachelor's degree in theater and English from Towson in 1969, and also earned her master's degree in education from the school.
She spent more than 30 years working at the university, highlighted by a stint as the dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, 1997-2002.
She left Towson in 2002 to serve as provost of Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, where she was credited with shaping undergraduate mentorship, creating the University Diversity Action Plan, reorganizing academic divisions and increasing funding for faculty development.
Loeschke became president of Mansfield University in 2006 and oversaw the development of the school's first inclusive strategic plan, and focused on diversity on campus and the relationship between the university and the community.
Towson launched a search for a new president in February, shortly after then-president Robert Caret announced his departure to take the presidency of the University of Massachusetts.
University System of Maryland Chancellor William Kirwan said Loeschke's experience at Mansfield showed she was the right person for the job.
"Clearly, Dr. Loeschke brings a philosophical alignment with the USM goals of closing student achievement gaps, increasing the number of young people in Maryland with college degrees, and responding to the state's workforce and economic development needs," Kirwan said in a statement.
Fifth District County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, said he's interested in Loeschke's experience in bringing universities and the surrounding communities together.
"I think we're all very proud of Towson's reputation and its position as a leading research institution," Marks said Monday. "I would hope that the new president would continue to reach out to the community, to not surprise people with sudden developments, and to work very hard to increase the amount of housing on Towson University's campus."
Loeschke said Monday night that she's "very anxious" to build the relationship between the community and Towson University.
"One of my visions for any institution is that the line between the community and university becomes less and less distinct, in that the community feels welcome to come on to the campus and the students go into the community in responsible ways, such as through service," she said.
"I'm very, very interested in that relationship. I think it's a responsibility of a university to be a partner in the community."
As far as other visions she has for the university, Loeschke plans to "relearn Towson" before making any big decisions.
"I've been away for 10 years," she said. "Obviously, I respect its past because it's in my heart, but I'm also absolutely respectful of where it is. Towson is known nationally in a lot of areas, and I want it to be known in 30 more."
Marks added that he met with former president Caret on his first day in office and continued to have a good relationship with Dr. Marcia Welsh, the interim president.
He said he hopes to develop a similar relationship with Loeschke when she takes office, something Loeschke said she hopes can happen soon.
"I'd hope to do that before I even start," she said. "I do have responsibilities here that I want to complete, to leave Mansfield in a tidy, safe place, but there are some conversations I need to have before that."