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After years of ordained leadership, Loyola University Maryland names layperson Terrence Sawyer as next president

Loyola University Maryland has named former attorney and longtime senior administrator Terrence M. Sawyer as its next president, a major departure from the private Jesuit institution’s tradition of selecting ordained priests to lead the North Baltimore school.

The university’s board of trustees voted unanimously to select Sawyer, who currently serves as Loyola’s senior vice president, following a national search for its 25th president. Previous president Rev. Brian F. Linnane retired in June after leading the university for 16 years. Sawyer will begin on Jan. 1, officials announced Wednesday.

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“Our search identified many talented leaders, but it was clear that Terry holds the greatest promise as the president who can — and will — move Loyola University Maryland forward,” said James Forbes, chair of Loyola’s Board of Trustees, in a statement.

Loyola University Maryland has named former practicing attorney and longtime senior administrator Terrence M. Sawyer as its next president.
Loyola University Maryland has named former practicing attorney and longtime senior administrator Terrence M. Sawyer as its next president. (Courtesy of Loyola)

Sawyer, a Towson resident and New Jersey native, earned degrees from University of Maryland, College Park and Widener University School of Law before working as an attorney for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. He practiced civil and criminal law in Baltimore City and is a member of the Maryland State Bar.

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Sawyer came to work for Loyola in 1998 as special assistant to the president for government and community relations. He was named vice president for administration in 2004, serving as a liaison to the Board of Trustees and overseeing multiple university departments. And he was named vice president for advancement in 2015, according to Loyola’s website.

In recent years, Sawyer has led the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, overseeing the planning and successful reopening and operations on campus. He also led multi-million dollar fundraising efforts for the university and taught as an affiliate professor in Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business and Management.

Sawyer said in a Loyola news release that he was humbled and honored to serve as president, acknowledging challenging times ahead for higher education.

“I look forward to working alongside my colleagues across the University in meeting the moment and leading Loyola in this next chapter of its long and illustrious history,” Sawyer said. “The extraordinary Jesuit, Catholic liberal arts education Loyola delivers to its students is unparalleled. In this moment, we can lean into the richness of our values and tradition, while enhancing Loyola in innovative ways for the future.”

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While the incoming president will become the university’s first layperson in charge, Sawyer comes to the position with some formal Jesuit training. He graduated from the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities’ Ignatian Colleagues Program, which is designed to educate administrators and faculty in the Jesuit and Catholic tradition of higher education, university officials said in the release.

“Terry values Jesuit, liberal arts education, knows Loyola’s strengths and challenges, and has a compelling, foundational vision for defining and shaping Loyola in the years ahead,” Forbes said. “He’s a critical thinker with a sound business sense and an appreciation for intellectual inquiry. He’s also a relationship builder who is ready to help Loyola achieve still greater success with a deep commitment to its Jesuit identity, academic success, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

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