Tania Tetlow, J.D. Announced as the New President of Fordham University 


Last Updated 10:54 a.m. ET


In a post on the Fordham University Instagram, Fordham announced Tania Tetlow, J.D., as the 33rd president of Fordham University. 

Tetlow is currently the 17th president of Loyola University New Orleans, a private Jesuit university with a student population of 3,759. In 2018, Tetlow became the first layperson and female president at Loyola University New Orleans since the university’s founding in 1912. Tetlow will make similar history at Fordham, as she becomes the first woman and non-Jesuit to hold the university president position. 

Tetlow was raised in New Orleans by her mother and father, a former Jesuit priest. She earned her undergraduate degree from Tulane University in 1992 and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1995. After graduating, she served as a law clerk and a law associate where she litigated commercial transactions, civil fraud and First Amendment cases. She also served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana where she prosecuted 19 jury trials specializing in general crime, violent crime and narcotics cases. 

She began her career in academia in 1998, working as a part-time adjunct professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and in 2005, she rose to full professor at Tulane Law School. She also directed Tulane’s Domestic Violence Law Clinic where she raised $2.3 million in federal grant funds. In 2015, she moved to the administrative side of academia, becoming both the Associate Provost for International Affairs and Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff at Tulane University, the positions involved coordinating the school’s international activities like study abroad programs and joint degree partnerships and implementing the President’s academic, administrative and financial vision. In 2018 she became the president of Loyola University New Orleans, making her the youngest female president to lead one of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. 

At the time of Tetlow’s inauguration, Loyola University New Orleans was in financial trouble after five years of layoffs, program cuts and other money saving measures. Tetlow was able to stabilize the situation by improving the school’s bond rating, re-working the university budget, increasing retention, continuing enrollment growth and expanding online, graduate and professional programs. 

Tetlow also oversaw and organized the Faith and the Future Campaign, a $100 million campaign focused on raising money for scholarships, endowed professorships, academic program improvement and construction of the new Chapel of St. Ignatius and Gayle and Tom Benson Jesuit Center. 

In response to the 2020 racial reckoning that occured in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Tetlow, like many other university administrators, sought out to develop a diversity, equity and inclusion mission for the school. The two strategic initiatives — The Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence and The Strategic Plan for Courage and Creativity — attempt to invest in creative programming, recruit and retain underrepresented faculty and staff and strengthen advocacy and support.

Another huge challenge Tetlow faced in her time as president was the repercussions of the abuse allegations against former Loyola vice president Rev. Ted Dziak, S.J. in April 2021. Some Loyola students were dissatisfied with Tetlow’s response, saying the email she sent to the Loyola community regarding the allegations was “tone deaf” and “didn’t send the right message about victims and survivors.” 

Two years into Tetlow’s tenure as president, she was faced with one of the most daunting challenges for university administrators around the world: the COVID-19 pandemic. When Loyola students returned to campus for the fall 2020 semester there was some criticism surrounding the school’s lack of mandatory surveillance testing, data tracking and lack of accommodation from professors. Students were required to provide a negative test before returning to campus, but Tetlow explained the school did not have the means to provide frequent testing to students. The school now has a mandatory vaccination policy, although they still do not require surveillance testing. 

One of the most voiced concerns in the Fordham community surrounding the new president is that Tetlow is not a Jesuit priest. Unsurprisingly, similar concerns existed when Tetlow began her career at Loyola University New Orleans. But Tetlow holds Jesuit values close to her heart, especially being the daughter of a former Jesuit priest, and she aimed to implement those values into her work at Loyola. At the time of her inauguration Tetlow said, “I was very much raised with Jesuit values and mission … and felt a sense of duty, that you are supposed to put your talents to good use.” 

We are watching history unfold at Fordham University as Tetlow becomes the first woman and layperson president. There is sure to be much discussion and excitement surrounding this monumental moment and the Fordham community waits in anticipation for the changes to come.