Fordham Names First Woman and Layperson to Lead University

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Tania Tetlow has been named the 33rd president of Fordham University. She will be the first layperson and first woman to lead the university in its 181-year history. Her tenure begins July 1.

Fordham announced her appointment Feb. 10. She succeeds Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., who last September announced he would step down after this academic year after serving 19 years as president. His last day in the post is June 30.

Ms. Tetlow, a former law professor and current president of Loyola University New Orleans, has deep ties to the Jesuits and New York. 

In a video message to the Fordham community, Ms. Tetlow said she is “honored beyond measure” to have been chosen as Fordham’s next president, and she shared what it’s like coming from “a family full of Jesuits.” 

“They taught me that faith and reason are intertwined. They instilled in me an abiding curiosity to find God in all things …They sang me to sleep with a Gregorian chant and taught me the absolute joy of learning.”

“Fordham is the reason that I exist,” she said. “My parents met there as graduate students and got married, and I was born in New York.” 

“Fordham loomed large in my family. It was an institution of breathtaking excellence in the most exciting city in the world.”

(Her father, Louis Mulry Tetlow, who is deceased, was a Jesuit for 17 years before he left the order.)

She was a child when she and her family left New York for New Orleans; at age 16, she earned a Dean’s Honor Scholarship at Tulane University, where she later earned a Truman Scholarship that took her to Harvard Law. 

Ms. Tetlow has served as president of Loyola New Orleans since August 2018, becoming the first woman and first lay president to lead the institution since it was founded by the Jesuits in 1912. 

“The Board of Trustees and the search committee were deeply impressed by Tania Tetlow from the moment we met her,” said Fordham Board Chair Robert D. Daleo, Gabelli ’72, noting the board voted unanimously to appoint Ms. Tetlow after a nationwide search. 

“She is deeply rooted in, and a strong proponent of, Ignatian spirituality and will be a champion of Fordham’s Jesuit, Catholic mission and identity,” Daleo added. 

Father McShane said, “Her commitment to Jesuit pedagogy and to Fordham’s Jesuit, Catholic mission is both deep and well-informed. I shall rest easy with her in the office I have occupied for almost two decades.”

Before being named president of Loyola, Ms. Tetlow was senior vice president and chief of staff at Tulane University, 2015-2018. She also served at Tulane as associate provost for international affairs, the Felder-Fayard Professor of Law and director of the university’s domestic violence clinic. 

From 2000 to 2005, she was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

As a federal prosecutor, she specialized in general crimes, violent crimes and major narcotics cases.

She earned a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude and a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Tulane University, cum laude.

She and her husband, Gordon Stewart, are the parents of two children.

Ms. Tetlow is the niece of writer Father Joseph Tetlow, S.J., who served for eight years in Rome as head of the Secretariat for Ignatian Spirituality. He is writing full time at the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas. 

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