By Joe Della Posta and Molly McCarthy, Office of Communications, Le Moyne College
Not long after being named president of Le Moyne College in Spring 2014, Linda LeMura, Ph.D. was walking through Grewen Hall, likely on her way to one of a half-dozen meetings on her calendar that day, a cellphone pressed against her ear. Dr. LeMura was in midstride when she spotted the College’s newest Fulbright Scholar nearby. She politely paused her phone conversation, approached the student and wrapped her in a warm hug, telling her how proud she was of her achievement.
Moments like this one are why LeMura does what she does. She relishes her students’ success. From the day they arrive on campus to the day they cross the stage at commencement, she is committed to their development not only as scholars, but also as human beings. She champions their achievements and marvels at their capacity to do hard things. In fact, LeMura believes that this generation’s resiliency in the face of hardship is “severely underestimated.”
On the days when leading a complex organization with more that 600 employees and approximately 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students is at its most challenging, testing her own resolve, LeMura remembers her students. She reminds herself that she is leading the team that is nurturing these young people to be a force for good in the world. And that knowledge fills her with a sense of joy that fuels and sustains her.
LeMura arrived at Le Moyne in 2003, from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. After serving as Le Moyne’s dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, she was promoted to the role of provost in 2007. When she was named the College’s 14th president eight years ago, the news made headlines nationally and internationally. She was the first female layperson to lead a Jesuit college or university in the United States. But, as Sharon Kinsman Salmon ’78, then chair of the College’s board of trustees, pointed out, LeMura was also unquestionably the right person for the job. She was someone with “superb leadership skills, a deep understanding of Jesuit ideals, and appreciation for the many challenges facing higher education today.”
Under LeMura’s leadership, Le Moyne has enjoyed extraordinary success. In 2021, the College completed the $100 million Always Forward campaign, the largest in its 75-year history; welcomed its seventh-consecutive historically large, talented class to campus; and saw its endowment grow to a record $255 million. As president, Dr. LeMura has prioritized fully embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion in the College’s Jesuit mission. She has led Le Moyne through the Covid-19 pandemic, during which she temporarily moved to a home just off campus, so that she could be closer to her students. In addition, during LeMura’s tenure, the College received naming gifts for the Purcell School of Professional Studies and the McNeil Risk Management and Insurance Institute. It established its first doctoral program in executive leadership (a second doctoral program in health care is expected to launch in the fall), along with Master’s degree programs for those pursuing careers as occupational therapists and family nurse practitioners.
A Syracuse native, LeMura is the fifth of six children whose parents immigrated to the United States from Sicily. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Niagara University, a Catholic institution in the Vincentian tradition, and her Master’s and doctoral degrees from Syracuse University. It’s clear that she is inspired by the Jesuit charism: to be people for others, to act in the service of faith and the promotion of justice, and to model contemplation in action. She takes seriously the responsibility that she and other lay leaders have to help maintain this nearly 500-year-old tradition, particularly at a time when fewer people are entering vowed religious life. Early in her tenure as president, she joined several members of Le Moyne’s Board of Trustees in traveling to Spain for eight days to follow in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius, which she described as “a deeply emotional and moving experience.”
The College’s Board recently announced that it has extended LeMura’s contract until 2026, which would make her the longest-serving president in the College’s history. She looks forward to expanding the College’s reach and influence through a variety of new and expanded partnerships: with the City of Syracuse to promote environmental sustainability, with local health care providers to champion medical equity, and with the College’s closest neighbors to continue building a sense of community and cooperation.
LeMura also looks forward to growing the College’s ERIE21 Program, which was created as a bold response to two of the region’s greatest challenges: persistently high poverty and a lack of skilled workers needed to meet the demands of today’s economy. And, of course, the College will continue to promote dynamic new ways of teaching and path-breaking student research.
While much has changed for LeMura since that spring morning early in her presidency, as she reflected during last fall’s Mass of the Holy Spirit, much has remained the same: “Le Moyne College has, indeed, set the world on fire. It is a fire that burns but does not consume. It illuminates, yet it casts no shadows. Its warmth leaves no one in the cold, and its light leaves no one in the dark.”
To learn more about President Linda LeMura, please click here.