Heights Alive

By Ashley M. Casey  |  Photography by Kimberly Cook

Women are at the head of the pod in Le Moyne College’s Madden School of Business, and provost Linda LeMura couldn’t be prouder. 0913 cover story edit DSC_0922

A little more than six decades old, Le Moyne College is in a constant state of flux. The evolution of the Madden School of Business is the next chapter in the college’s short but colorful history. And provost Linda LeMura couldn’t be happier to be elbows-deep in creating history on the Heights, especially when she’s rubbing those elbows with a squad of vibrant, intelligent female colleagues. With growing female populations in both the student body and the faculty, women are making a splash with the Dolphins — especially in the Madden School.

In October 2011, Le Moyne announced the creation of the Madden School of Business. Prominent 1971 alumnus Michael Madden, who in 1997 founded the Madden Institute for Business Education to bring speakers to Le Moyne business students, presented his alma mater with $7 million to create the business school that was officially named after him in April 2012. Madden is co-founder and managing partner of BlackEagle LLC, an investment firm based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

In addition to its much-anticipated renovations (including the advanced trading center), the Madden School is also expanding its internship and mentorship programs and will be introducing a living learning community for first-year business students. Recently featured in the United Kingdom-based CEO Magazine, the Madden School boasts three female department heads and other women who have been instrumental in the school’s success. At the head of the pack is Linda LeMura.

“The women in the Madden School are extraordinary, talented individuals who can work at any college or university they wanted,” LeMura said. “They chose to be at Le Moyne because they know this is a distinctive place of higher learning where they can make [a] huge impact at our college and for the next generation of women leaders.”

LeMura, who also serves as vice president of academic affairs, is Le Moyne’s first female provost and is one of only six female provosts among the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities nationwide. A native of Syracuse, she is very familiar with what she called the “richness” of the “Catholic intellectual tradition.” She attended Catholic elementary and high schools and graduated from Niagara University, which she attended on a scholarship for basketball. LeMura went on to receive her master’s and doctorate in applied physiology from Syracuse University.

Departing her hometown once more, LeMura rose through the ranks at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. She served as a professor, graduate program director and chair of the departments of allied health sciences and exercise science and biology — she felt it was time for a change.

“[Bloomsburg is] a secular state university, which was very rewarding, but there was something missing from the atmosphere that made me desire something more in terms of my career path,” LeMura recalled.

After 15 years at Bloomsburg, she saw that her hometown’s Jesuit college was searching for a new dean of arts and sciences.

“Growing up in this community, I had always heard so many wonderful things about Le Moyne College, its Jesuit mission and history and tradition. I wanted to become a part of a school with such a rich history, so I decided to apply for the position,” LeMura said. “One thing led to another and ultimately I was named the dean of arts and sciences [in 2003].”

LeMura’s ascent into educational leadership came at a cost to the other parts of her career. “My family and friends would probably tell you that I put my heart into everything. But in order to do things really well, you have to let some things go,” she explained. “For example, I was emerging as an expert in the field of pediatric obesity before it was labeled the ‘epidemic’ it is today. Had I remained as a professor and researcher, I would have made substantive contributions to the scientific literature on childhood obesity.”

She also faced the work-family balance with which working women often grapple. LeMura is married to Dr. Lawrence Tanner, a paleobiologist who is a professor in Le Moyne’s natural systems science program. The two have a daughter, Emily, who is now a sophomore at Fordham University in New York City.

“Early in my career, I often struggled to find the proper balance between spending quality time with my husband and daughter, and spending time in the physiology laboratory so that I could sustain a productive research program,” LeMura recalled. She was determined to publish research papers and apply for grants.

“In order to get that kind of work done, you need big blocks of time,” she added. Luckily, she wasn’t alone in her search for balance. “Fortunately, the small cadre of women biologists with whom I worked were wonderful mentors. They were role models for me in terms of how they allocated their time to their families and to their professional obligations.”

Despite the challenge of balancing her work with her personal life, LeMura continued to find success at Le Moyne. Four years after she accepted the deanship, she was chosen as acting interim provost and later was named provost and vice president of academic affairs.

“I knew that Le Moyne, being a Jesuit institution, revered this combination of the compatibility of faith and reason and also this notion of service, of preparing ‘men and women for others,’” she said, echoing the late Very Rev. Pedro Arrupe’s articulation of one of the pillars of Jesuit education.

Women have certainly garnered more focus on the Heights. As the female student population has increased to approximately 61 percent at Le Moyne, the number of female faculty members has risen to nearly one-half.

“If you took a look at the faculty during Le Moyne’s early days, certainly it was populated by Jesuits and male lay faculty. Over the decades the college was interested in recruiting female students. You need female professors in order to demonstrate to students the balance in the academy and to bring the female voice and perspective to the table, whether it’s in the classroom or in committees or in leadership positions,” LeMura observed. “It’s essential to have all forms of talent at the table in order to make good decisions. … Moving forward I suspect you’ll see more women engage in leadership roles, not just at Le Moyne, but in the Jesuit system in general.”

Like many Jesuit schools, Le Moyne finds the demographics of its leadership changing as well. In addition to LeMura, two other women hold vice presidential positions: Deborah Cady Melzer is the vice president. 0913 cover story edit DSC_1033

According to John Hunter, director of financial technology for the Madden School of Business, business school benefactor and namesake Michael Madden had the vision for the cutting-edge trading center housed within the Madden School. Although other business schools have similar centers, Le Moyne’s “mini stock exchange” stands out among its peers. “SU has one, Seton Hall has one, Siena has one, Canisius has one,” Hunter said.

In addition to providing the standard data on stocks and bonds, students can browse more than 40,000 platforms of financial information through state-of-the-art Bloomberg financial research technology. Madden’s trading center will feature 12 Bloomberg Terminals and 30 terminals with Morningstar, another financial data system. “Bloomberg is probably the leading financial information system in the world,” Hunter explained.

The center promises to be visually impressive as well. “We will have a live feed ticker tape running around the ceiling … showing all the stocks and trades and different exchanges. We will have a set of world clocks with all the different time zones around the world, and then we will have large display screens in the front of the room and on the sides of the room, which will display a lot of this financial information that can be used by our faculty for teaching purposes,” Hunter said. “There’ll be live television feeds coming in from different financial news networks. So in essence, it’s going to look somewhat like if you watch a financial news station during the day … The only difference is we won’t be doing any live trading.”

Hunter added that the trading center will feature StockTrak software, which teaches students to invest using mock stock portfolios. “We can use that for the Le Moyne Investment Club and then hopefully we can use that for investment challenges open to the whole campus,” he said. “A club or a team or an individual could come in and join our investment challenge and manage a portfolio for a year and see how they do.”

Another significant happening for the Madden School is Le Moyne’s July 2013 acquisition of the Pedro Arrupe S.J. Program of Christian Social Ethics in Business, formerly a part of the Woodstock Theological Center at fellow Jesuit school Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The Arrupe Program, which will be under the jurisdiction of the Madden School’s Center for Reflective Leadership and Business Ethics, studies the balance of faith and work as well as sustainability, leadership and ethical issues. Ninety-three Jesuit higher learning institutions worldwide will be collaborating with Le Moyne on the Jesuit Case Series to examine case studies of business ethics in action.

The Arrupe acquisition and the trading center are not the Madden School’s only leaps of progress — the Madden School has announced partnerships with Syracuse University, Cornell University and ESADE, a Jesuit business school in Barcelona, Spain. Business students will also be teaming up with Welch Allyn’s medical research spinoff company Blue Highway to develop high-tech medical device applications. The school is also preparing for the 2014 Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business reaccreditation process.

For student development and Mary Cotter is the vice president for institutional advancement. LeMura said that she expected the upward trend of women within Jesuit institutional leadership would continue on a steady trek.

“Historically, it’s true that most [Jesuit schools’] deans and provosts — and certainly, virtually all presidents, because they’ve all tended to be led by Jesuit priests — were males but I’m seeing that the pipeline is starting to diversify,” she said. “As you have more female chairpersons of academic departments and then subsequently deans, you will start to populate the provost pipeline with more women. … Ultimately, we hope that one of the Jesuit institutions in the United States will ultimately hire a female president. We now have a handful of institutions that are led by male lay presidents but no one has hired a female yet.”

LeMura noted that the Catholic higher educational system mirrors the climate of change within the broader Catholic Church. “The hierarchy is predominantly male. The Jesuits, however, tend to be a little bit more progressive in their approach in terms of education and in leadership roles,” she said. “I think if anyone is going to break the ceiling in terms of the Catholic hierarchy, I suspect that a Jesuit institution will be stepping up to the plate very soon. Hopefully … in the next generation of presidents it’ll be the norm to consider a woman to lead a Jesuit institution.”

Founded in 1946, Le Moyne is the second-youngest Jesuit higher learning institution in the country. Its only younger “sibling” is Wheeling Jesuit University, located in West Virginia. Given its double status as a young, Jesuit school, it is no surprise that Le Moyne has a progressive attitude toward women in academia.

“Le Moyne itself was sort of a trendsetter when it opened. It was the first Jesuit school to open as a coed school. So it’s always been kind of the young upstart Jesuit school that was sort of ahead of its time,” LeMura explained. “We continue to respond in that way, that we want to be ahead of the curve, so to speak, in terms of who we place in leadership roles and why in order to put the best talent pool in decision-making capacities in order to steward the college well.”

Coming up in the sciences of 1980s academia, LeMura found that her field was largely dominated by men, especially when it came to positions in academic leadership or administration. As a result, she had to put forth as much as or more effort than her male colleagues in order to garner equal consideration.

“I was able to navigate the ranks primarily on the strength of my credentials. I think that it’s important for women to assume from the start that they need to have outstanding academic training and phenomenal academic experiences in the academy that [allow] them to compete on a level playing field so that they never feel that they were a choice simply because of their gender,” she said.

It is apparent that LeMura truly has an unparalleled sense of dedication not just to Le Moyne and its values, but to the students she serves. “Our graduates will make a difference not in their first job, but in their first ten jobs over the course of their lives, and I have this deep sense of gratification that in some small way, I’m making a contribution to this incredible 500-year tradition [of] Jesuit education,” she reflected.

LeMura also acknowledged the importance of her work to the women who will succeed her. “I take the hiring of the next generation of female scholars and professionals very seriously because I know they bring so many distinctive talents to the table, and I’m blessed that at Le Moyne College the entire community sees the richness of all the voices that are involved in educating students,” she said.

When it comes to her own contributions to Le Moyne, LeMura isn’t too humble to downplay what she has brought to the table. “I’ve brought an entrepreneurial spirit, a desire to have our faculty work across boundaries to prepare our students to solve the complex problems of the 21st century. We’re breaking down the academic silos that existed in the 20th century at Le Moyne because we’re so nimble in so many ways and we can respond very quickly here at the college given our scope,” she explained. “From where I sit, there is never a dull moment.”

Le Moyne’s relative youth spells continual evolution for the Madden School and the college as a whole. “In institutional terms, Le Moyne is still an adolescent,” LeMura remarked. “Our oldest graduates are still living, many of them, which is a stark reminder of how young we are in the institutional landscape of higher ed.”

As for LeMura, she has no plans to leave Le Moyne anytime soon. “As long as I’m able to contribute to this evolution of this fantastic Jesuit college, I envision working incredibly hard with this generation of faculty members to lay the foundation for the next 100 years of Le Moyne,” she said. “The decisions that we make every day lay the foundation for the future of this college to continue to impact this community and beyond in ways that we can’t even begin to calculate, by the integrity of every student that walks these halls.”

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Ashley M. Casey

Ashley M. Casey is a journalist based in CNY. Her work has appeared in Today's CNY Woman, The Valley News, and The Finger Lakes Vacationer. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012.

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