Loyola to Celebrate Inauguration of President Xavier Cole

Xavier Cole

NEW ORLEANS — Loyola University New Orleans will celebrate the inauguration of Dr. Xavier Cole as its 18th president at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10 at Holy Name of Jesus Church.

Cole is the first person of color and the second layperson to serve as the university’s president. The inauguration ceremony will include an academic procession and remarks from Cole, representatives of the university community, elected officials and other higher education leaders. 

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Cole has been on the job since June, and he said he’s focused on learning how the 119-year-old school, which has about 4600 enrolled students, can serve the needs of the community.

“One of my top priorities since my arrival at Loyola has been to engage with the business community and identify opportunities for Loyola to develop academic programs that give students the skills that are most in demand by local businesses,” Cole told Biz New Orleans. “Loyola has a long history of forming dedicated servant leaders who have helped shape New Orleans for the better, and I intend to build on that tradition.”

Before joining Loyola, Cole served as Marquette University’s vice president for student affairs. His appointment by unanimous board vote on March 17 followed a seven-month national search by a committee representing faculty, staff, students, alumni and parents.

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“We have found a real gem for our students in Dr. Cole,” said Robert LeBlanc, chair of the presidential search committee, when Cole’s selection was announced. “Throughout his career, he has been guided by Ignatian-influenced education ideals of fortifying the mind, body and spirit.”

Raised in Biloxi, Miss., Cole earned a bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Mississippi and a master’s degree in history from Miami University (Ohio). He said he discovered his passion for student affairs as a resident advisor at Ole Miss and then as a graduate hall director at Miami.

In 2013, Cole earned his doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. He has led the division of student affairs at Marquette since 2016. He earned praise for chairing Marquette’s COVID-19 response team, starting in the demanding days of March 2020.

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At each stop in his career as a senior administrator, Cole has performed on the trombone and euphonium in student orchestra pits and jazz bands. (His mother sang professionally; his father was a band leader.)

Before his role at Marquette, Cole spent more than two decades at higher education institutions in Maryland. From 2014 to 2016, he was vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Washington College in Chestertown, Md. From 1995 to 2014, he held various positions at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore.

Today, Cole serves as chair for the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education executive doctorate alumni board. From 2017 to 2022, he was vice chair and director of the education committee on the board of Messmer Catholic Schools, a K-12 network of Catholic schools serving Milwaukee’s north and west sides.

Cole will take the reins from Fr. Justin Daffron, who served as interim president after the departure of Tania Tetlow, Loyola’s first women and first lay president. Tetlow was named the 33rd president of Fordham University in early 2022.

“I am committed to strengthening this thriving institution by seeking out mission-aligned partnerships, promoting our financial health and stability, and investing in those who work and learn here,” Cole said earlier this year. “There is so much possibility for us to rise up to meet the needs of our city, our state, and our region – needs in the business community, education sector, and healthcare fields. Loyola has the necessary academic programs not only to prepare future successful employees, but to position them as trusted leaders.”

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