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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Loyola University New Orleans has a new president who the university’s Board of Trustees is calling an “empathic, student-centered leader of Jesuit institutions”.

On Friday, the university unveiled Dr. Xavier A. Cole as Loyola’s 18th president and the first person of color to hold the position. Additionally, Dr. Cole is the second non-ordained person to lead the university.

Dr. Cole currently serves as Vice President for Student Affairs at Marquette University in Wisconsin and will assume his brand new role on June 1.

“Dr. Cole is a uniquely experienced higher education administrator who has dedicated his career to the study and preservation of Jesuit, Catholic institutions in America, and to the service of their students,” said Stephen Landry, Chair of the Board of Trustees. 

The search for a new leader took seven months and was conducted nationally by the Presidential Search Committee, says the board. The search came down to four finalists who were invited for a final interview back in February.

“We have found a real gem for our students in Dr. Cole,” said Robért LeBlanc, Chair of the Presidential Search Committee and Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees. “Throughout his career, Dr. Cole has been guided by Ignatian-influenced education ideals of fortifying the mind, body, and spirit.” 

The university says Dr. Cole’s musical hobby sums up his love of student life and makes him well-suited for a campus within the birthplace of jazz. His history as a trombone and euphonium player, coming from a musically inclined family allowed students to understand on a level higher than a student affairs professional.

Dr. Cole, who is from Biloxi, Miss., received his bachelor’s in history from the University of Mississippi, his master’s in history from Miami University (Ohio), and his doctorate in higher education management, which coincides with his passion for student affairs, from the University of Pennsylvania.

“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. 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.” 

Xavier A. Cole, Ed.D

Dr. Cole is making the move to the “Big Easy” with his wife historian Susanne DeBerry Cole, Ph.D., and Mingus, their feisty cairn terrier.

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