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Le Moyne May Soon Become First Jesuit College to Appoint Laywoman as President

Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., reportedly appears set to announce that Provost Linda LeMura will become the president of Le Moyne, making her the first laywoman president of a Jesuit college or university in the country, according to Religion News Service.

Just last year, LeMura reportedly anticipated that a woman would be named head of a Jesuit college.

“The (church) hierarchy is predominantly male,” LeMura reportedly told Today’s CNY Woman. “The Jesuits, however, tend to be a little bit more progressive in their approach in terms of education and in leadership roles. I think if anyone is going to break the ceiling in terms of the Catholic hierarchy, I suspect that a Jesuit institution will be stepping up to the plate very soon.”

LeMura has been provost of the University for about five years.

A number of Jesuit colleges have named lay presidents in recent years, a consequence of the declining number of Jesuits.

John DeGioia was the first lay president of a Jesuit university, being named president of Georgetown University in 2001. Two other women have run Jesuit colleges in the past but both were nuns. Sister Maureen Fay was president of the University of Detroit Mercy from 1990 to 2004. Sister Francis Marie Thrailkill acted as interim president at Wheeling Jesuit University.

LeMura will follow the current president Fred Pestello who is leaving to become the president of Saint Louis University.

“The really central thing is (LeMura) is an excellent administrator who knows that school well and that she is very knowledgeable about and committed to the Jesuit system and the Jesuit spiritual tradition,” Fr.  Michael Sheeran, President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, reportedly said.

Out of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S., just 18 will be led by Jesuits. In the past forty years, the number of Jesuits in the U.S. has reportedly plunged from 6,616 to 2,547.

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