By: Carley Milligan, Editor-in-Chief
Live music, a solo dance performance and the kind words and support of friends, family, students and more, worked in harmony on Friday at a memorial service to celebrate the life and legacy of President Emerita Maravene Loeschke.
SECU Arena was packed with individuals who came to honor the life and work of this important and beautiful woman, and I was touched and moved by the stories and words of those who spoke.
From Interim President Timothy Chandler and former SGA President Brandy Hall, to the large number of professors from the Department of Music and Theatre Arts, each had a unique story to tell the audience when they took the podium. Alongside others they shared memories of the happy, sad, difficult and funny times they shared with Loeschke, showing the scope of the profound effect she had on all that she came into contact with.
Many spoke of her incredible ability to find time to make each person she came in contact with feel valued and special. Others commented on her impressive professional demeanor, which was friendly and engaging, as well as tough and driven. But throughout the speeches and stories it was clear that the one thing Loeschke valued above all else in her position was the individual experiences of the thousands of students she worked with here and at other universities.
I must admit that I only ever met Loeschke on one occasion in Oct. 2013, at the celebration of the Theatre Department’s 50-year anniversary. This was just months prior to her announcement of her illness and later resignation, and at the time of meeting her I wish that I had taken more advantage of that rare opportunity to really absorb who Loeschke was.
My single memory of her was that she was kind and filled with earnest enthusiasm about the success of the department, and in this night in particular, was accompanied by her husband Richard Gillespie. I didn’t realize at the time the rare treat I had received of snagging a brief, solitary interview with the two of them outside of the noisy chatter of the reception in the Center for the Arts.
I tried to reflect on this experience during Friday’s memorial, but felt as though my partially remembered, single moment of contact with her could barely stand up next to the overload of stories and outpouring of emotion from those who truly knew her. It became quite clear from these testimonies to her character that in her brief tenure as University President, Loeschke had reshaped Towson University into a reflection of who she was, and that the campus and community had truly benefitted from that. The effect she had on both the individuals in the university and the university itself is incomparable.
The void that was left behind in the office of the president must be filled.
Of course, Interim President Timothy Chandler has done well to hold this spot, and I believe that as a university we are thankful to have someone already so invested in Towson to keep our ship afloat so to speak.
However, Towson has had two presidents and two interim presidents in its last ten years, leaving a sense of unease for many who wonder what, or who, will be next for our university. Whose will be the next face that represents Towson to the legislators in Annapolis, who will be the next to sit in the resident’s office and look out over the campus and say “it’s time to change this, or it’s about time we did something about that.”
While Chandler has expressed the desire to make his current position permanent, the presidential search committee has remained silent on any news of who Towson’s next president might be, or even when a decision will be made.
Although it is difficult to say goodbye to Loeschke and everything that she did throughout her long career at Towson, in her ‘final bow’ on Friday she gave us the greatest farewell we could have hoped for.
However, time moves forward and the university must move with it. We have bid farewell to and mourned our last great Towson University President, Maravene Loeschke, and now it is time for someone new to come and make their mark on our institution.
One thing is for certain however; whoever takes her place will have some mighty big shoes to fill.