By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — An opportunity to make a contribution to higher Catholic education as a university president led Jamie Loftus to accept the presidency of Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee.
“This was a good opportunity for me, Irene and the girls,” said the St. Ambrose University vice president of enrollment and student services in Davenport.
Loftus said he received a call last summer from someone who heard he had aspirations of becoming a college president. “Would you be interested,” he was asked. “Yes.”
Loftus and his wife, Irene, drove to Milwaukee during the late summer to walk around the campus and get a sense of the community. “We had a terrific impression.”
Cardinal Stritch is a Catholic university founded by the Sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi in 1937. Current enrollment is around 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students; the university has several campus sites in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Cardinal Stritch “fit with my sense of values and skills. I liked their heritage and values. I think I am a good fit for them. I want to help students learn and succeed — at whatever level that might be.
“There will be some challenges — I’m sure — but those will be opportunities,” Loftus said. He looks forward to collaborating with the community “in this terrific mission.”
Like St. Ambrose, Cardinal Stritch is grounded in liberal arts. “I will not lose sight of that.”
In addition to interviews with Loftus, university staff talked with the family — especially the Loftus’ youngest daughter, Claire, who is still in high school. Loftus said Claire took a liking to the university because its former name was St. Clare College. The Sisters of St. Francis “embraced all of us, but also worked with Claire.”
On Dec. 14, Cardinal Stritch University announced Loftus as president effective July 1. He said his wife and four daughters traveled to Milwaukee for the welcoming and introduction. “It was a marvelous and joyous occasion.”
The family received a wood carving of St. Francis and a small stained glass artwork of St. Clare. “It is very visible in our home.”
From now until he officially begins work as university president, Loftus will make monthly trips to Cardinal Stritch as part of the transition process. “We also will look for a place to call home and find a place for Claire to complete high school.”
David Hawke, chairman of the Cardinal Stritch University Board of Trustees, said the board voted to select Loftus because of his collaborative leadership style, solid experience and lifelong commitment to Catholic education.
“We are pleased to have Dr. Loftus take the helm at Stritch. He is a dynamic, experienced and highly respected academic leader with a demonstrated commitment to Franciscan values.”
Loftus praised the St. Ambrose community for its support during his 21 years with the university. “They have been incredibly supportive and congratulated Irene, me and the girls. I can’t thank them enough. It has been very special.”
Loftus said he will miss the St. Ambrose community, “there’s no doubt about that. There is a huge place in my heart for St. Ambrose.”
“While saddened to lose such an effective administrator, the Ambrose community is also excited for Dr. Loftus and this wonderful opportunity,” said Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ. The president of St. Ambrose added, “Dr. Loftus will bring leadership, passion and significant experience to his new position as a university president. It has been a privilege to work with him and we wish him the very best with our utmost gratitude for 21 years of service.”
With his wife’s family still in the Quad-Cities, the family plans to make trips back to the area. “I’ll be back. It’s only three hours by interstate max.”
About Jamie Loftus
James (Jamie) Loftus will become president of Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee on July 1. He has been with St. Ambrose University in Davenport since 1990.
Loftus earned his B.A. in psychology and M.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame. He earned his doctorate in planning, policy and leadership studies from the University of Iowa.
Loftus has served as assistant dean of continuing education, director of the master of pastoral studies program and director of professional development at St. Ambrose. In 1995 he was made director of the newly established ACCEL program. In 1998 he was promoted to vice president for enrollment management and in 2002 assumed oversight responsibility for student services.
Loftus is married to Irene, an attorney and former chancellor for the Diocese of Davenport. The couple are parents to Bridget, 22; Kathleen, 21; Molly, 18; and Claire, 15.