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Women Leaders in the Ignatian Family

Linda M. LeMura, Ph.D.

Title: President

Institution: Le Moyne College

Location: Syracuse, New York

Do you have any other Jesuit institutional connections?

  • Board member of the College of the Holy Cross, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and the International Association of Jesuit Universities

What does your job entail?
I am responsible for developing the overall strategic direction and leading major initiatives for the college. This has included developing collaborative partnerships with other higher ed institutions and advocating for increasing Pell Grants to address racial and economic inequities in higher education access.

What is your favorite part of your job?
By far, my favorite part of the job is interacting with and getting to know our students. Even though my schedule makes it challenging, I make it a priority to meet with individual students, student groups and students who are leaders in campus governance, athletics, ministry, the performing arts and other areas vital to our community. As a lifelong educator, I recognized long ago how satisfying it is to be around young people and feed off their innate creativity, natural curiosity and ambition as they develop into confident and adaptable adults.

I’m drawn to the words of Superior General Arturo Sosa, SJ, in the Universal Apostolic Preferences, and the section on accompanying young people in the creation of a hope-filled future. “To accompany young people demands of us authenticity of life, spiritual depth and openness to sharing the life-mission that gives meaning to who we are and what we do. Having these, we can learn, along with the young, to find God in all things, and through our ministries and apostolates, we can help them live this stage of their lives more profoundly. Accompanying young people puts us on the path of personal, communitarian and institutional conversion.”

Despite the many obstacles and challenges they face in this complex and often troubled world, the more I am around them and see firsthand what young people are capable of accomplishing, the more optimistic I become about our future.

How does Ignatian spirituality shape your approach to work?
This year marks my 20th year in Jesuit education. As my roles have changed at Le Moyne, I have been blessed to work with many wonderful Jesuits, each with their own nuances about spirituality and how magis and cura personalis shape our collective work.

As a scientist, perhaps the most influential Jesuit for me was the late George Coyne, SJ, who I brought to Le Moyne in 2012 and was fortunate to have on our faculty for eight years. George was a world-renowned astronomer who directed the Vatican Observatory for almost 30 years. His views reconciling science and religion caused serious reflection in the church. A true renaissance man, his Catholic faith and Jesuit formation guided him. He was also a pragmatist. One of my favorite quotes from him is “There are dimensions to me that are not just the thinking person, but the person who is much richer, the person who has other emotional experiences, psychological experiences, these experiences also enrich me.”

Ignatian spirituality serves as a wonderful guide to my work and my life, an anchor that helps me navigate and make sense of the complexities of our world and our existence. The profound humanism at the heart of this spirituality, including being people for others and serving the oppressed and marginalized, ground me and help me recommit myself each day to my job and the task at hand.

How could the Jesuits and the church as a whole foster women’s leadership more effectively?
By acting with intentionality. When discussing important matters, all of us should ask who is missing from the table. I am heartened by some significant advances in women being elevated into an increasing number of leadership roles, particularly within Jesuit higher education. Since I became the first lay woman to become president of a Jesuit college or university in the U.S. in 2014, there have been eight other institutions led by women. I’d call that progress!