Q and A with Maravene Loeschke
The Towerlight: Did you ever see yourself as President of Towson University?
President Maravene Loeschke: No, I just never did. I was going to be an actress. And after I found out I loved teaching so much I was really delighted to switch. But president of the University, no, no it was not part of the plan. This was one of the reasons I said in the inauguration last Friday, when I spoke directly to the students to pay attention to what drops in unexpectedly from the skies. You don’t know what life has in store for you and half of what you’re planning is not going to happen and things you could never imagine are going to happen.
TL: How is being president different from being in the theatre department?
ML: Well that was so long ago because I left the theatre department to be the Dean of Fine Arts here. So that was 15 years ago. Then I left here to become the provost of Wilkes University and that was five years ago. Then there was five years as president of Mansfield. So the difference, I couldn’t even begin to tell you. If somebody told me tomorrow ‘You must go back to teaching,’ I would say, ‘Cool. I love it, are you kidding me? That’s no kind of punishment.’ There’s no job on earth like being president of the University. They’re very different. In the classroom, particularly in an acting class, you get to work one on one with students. You get to rehearse scenes, you get to work with students outside of class, you get to critique their monologues, you work with their nervousness, you work with their speech. Here, you don’t see students nearly as much as I want to. But I don’t get to work with students like you do as a teacher. So I kind of like helping to transform people’s lives from a place to a better place. Doing that as a president is different from doing it as a teacher, but you’re still doing it.
TL: As President what’s your biggest goal, where do you see yourself and Towson?
ML: I want Towson to be a national model for how to do things well in a number of areas. One of them is innovation and teacher preparation, a second is to prepare people in for a world of STEM. We want to be known nationally for our leadership development of our students so when they leave here they are prepared to make a positive change. We want to be a national model for how to address immediate and all standing issues regarding to diversity. Particularly we would like to think that we’re finished with that, we don’t have to deal with that anymore, but we know we’re not. How does a campus handle that? I would like people to say ‘Well, let’s look how Towson does it?” when their values are threatened. When their students are feeling offended by things that people are doing. I want people to look to us as a model. I want us to be able to provide an internship for almost every student if we possibly can. So I have this whole list of things that I’ve extracted from a big strategic plan that we have. We’ve pulled it down to eight major goals. I want people to look to Towson and say “My gosh, students have a wonderful experience there, how do they do it?”
TL: Part of that experience is Homecoming, what are you looking forward to about Homecoming this year?
ML: Well there’s two things, one is very personal. One for me is it is a homecoming. I was announced a year ago a week before homecoming to be the president but I didn’t get here until January. I think homecoming will always have a special place because a year ago it was announced and this year it was inauguration. But homecoming is so important because our alumni feel so great about this institution. I don’t care where I go, I don’t care if I’m at a 60th reunion or five-year reunion, the feelings are the same. Everyone talks about individual attention, everybody talks about the faculty who really care, everybody talks about how much experience they have outside the classroom, how much opportunity they had for leading things and doing things, how much they felt safe here and all kinds of reasons. So it’s a place to welcome people back and say ‘Come home for a weekend, come be a part of the fun of everything.’ The other part is athletics. There are two major doorways to campus where the community comes in. One is the arts. So when you’re doing 25 theatre productions a year and seven exhibits in one gallery and seven in another gallery and 150 music performances, that’s a lot of people coming in to see beautiful work. The other place is athletics. People come to see the games. They love the whole vitality of it. Football brings tremendous vitality to a campus because you’re in there and the cheerleaders are cheering and the band comes out and everyone’s screaming and yelling and everyone’s in black and gold—it’s just pure vitality and pure fun. So it’s just a time when you celebrate that you ever were at Towson or that you are at Towson or that you’re sitting here next to someone who went here 40 years ago and then down here is someone who went here five years ago. It’s just so cool.
TL: Can we expect to see you at this year’s Homecoming festivities?
ML: Oh, I’ll definitely be at the game. I’m going to pop into as many events as I possibly can but focusing mostly on alumni because I get to see the students during the whole year but I don’t get to see the alumni. So I’ll be focusing mostly on alumni events. But I get around each week at a lot of events. It’s my favorite part of the job. Being with the students and seeing their work—whether it’s on the field or at a play or whatever. It’s just such a great way to spend a day so I can’t get enough of that.
TL: Where on campus do you feel most at home?
ML: Probably anywhere with the students, always with a big group of students. And the fine arts building because I spent 32 years in that and helped design it.
– Compiled by Megan Flannery