Maravene Loeschke has resigned the presidency at Towson University due to health reasons. This is no papering over of some "real reason" for her leaving; President Loeschke has as much or more widespread and deep support as president than any such leader has or has had not only at Towson, but perhaps anywhere.
President Loeschke was Towson's best president, and this is particularly impressive in view of the consistent excellence of her predecessors.
Towson's growth and flourishing has been due in large part to the truly excellent presidents and provosts Towson has had in the last four decades. In fact with the exception of one short-lived presidency and one dishonest provost — whom President Loeschke dispatched — we have had nothing but forward-looking, responsible and ethical leaders in TU's preeminent positions.
In recent years the late president Hoke Smith's salt-of-the-earth, lengthy and stable tenure of two decades and his aggressive protégé Bob Caret's overseeing of the expansion of Towson tempered by his demand for commensurate state support, has made Towson's physical plant and general reputation non pareil among comprehensive universities.
Almost all university presidents now see their job as primarily fundraising and maneuvering their schools to a better financial stability.
President Loeschke broke this mold and, while attending to these necessary and significant functions, also became the students' and faculty's best agent and representative.
She attended to faculty promotion and tenure and student organizational concerns, as well as being a critical voice in the governance of the university and still paying attention to the small details. When I would transverse the campus with her she knew the names and individual circumstances of more students than anyone else at Towson. She went to all the sporting events and played with the band. One cannot do justice to all of her interactions with students, faculty and staff because they were so constant and manifold.
I had my first major — by which I mean beyond my control — problem with a faculty member who had achieved ad hoc power over my academic freedom and teaching of courses during her tenure. President Loeschke, to make a long story short, completely solved the problem through presidential intervention. No presidents to my knowledge would have taken the time to intervene for one faculty member, even with academic integrity at risk.
I wrote the following sentiments for our school newspaper in September, after it was announced that President Loeschke would take a leave of absence: "Competence in leadership, which Towson's administration has in abundance, is important, but integrity is even more so. The reason Towson has been in a renaissance since President Loeschke assumed office is because she, along with her choice for provost, Tim Chandler, effected a morality of process that has led to transparent decision-making. This doesn't mean that all decisions are necessarily correct, but they are made without deception and in the interest of the university and its students. … We all wish the best for President Loeschke. Her leadership, the best of the best in Towson's last 40 years, has guaranteed Towson's continued excellence. She will come back at the end of this term to an academically and financially strong university, thanks to her and others' leadership."
Well, President Loeschke will not return next year, but the transformative confidence and excitement that she has instilled in Towson as well as the personnel changes she has superintended will carry this exquisite university through the foreseeable future.
We have seen in Maravene Loeschke the best leadership there is, and it has created a unique and lasting élan at Towson University.
Richard E. Vatz is the longest serving member of Towson's University Senate. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.