Dear Loras Alumni and Friends,

This morning, I met with our faculty and staff to provide my annual “end-of-the-year” campus update. At the close of my remarks, I shared that the next academic year will be my last as Loras’ president.

I plan to retire from the Loras presidency on May 31, 2025. My five-year contract comes to an end, and I have decided that it is a good time to turn the reins over to a person who is looking for a new challenge and an opportunity to pursue new ideas. At that time, I will have served at Loras for forty-one years, including twenty years as president. As I step away from the presidency, the Board of Regents has requested that I continue my work at Loras to support the presidential transition and assist with our historic Enduring Values, Vibrant Vision campaign. I have readily agreed to serve in this limited capacity.

Spending forty-five years of my life on this special campus has been a blessing. It is a privilege to have served my alma mater all these years, even as it was a surprising, unexpected set of circumstances that led me to serve as a staff member, let alone as its president.

As most of you know, Loras has been especially personal to me. As the oldest among six siblings from Crystal Lake, IL., five of us attended Loras. We were raised with limited means in a modest home with loving parents. Loras was transformational for me and provided a personal, spiritual, and professional trajectory for which I will always be grateful.

When I became president, Lisa and I had six children ranging in age from eleven to four. Lisa was selfless and exceptional in raising our children while always supporting Loras and me. Five of our six graduated from Loras. Our daughter-in-law is a Loras graduate, and one son-in-law is a Loras graduate and serves as Loras’ head men’s soccer coach. Several extended family members have also been part of the Loras community.

I have loved my time at Loras and enjoyed engaging with many of you throughout these cherished years. Students have buoyed my soul, alumni have energized my work, faculty and staff have renewed my daily commitment, and the board has challenged me to be better and offered steadfast leadership with deep care for the College we all love. Perhaps most important to me, the College has inspired me to deepen my Catholic faith. What little I did for Loras, my alma mater, gave back to me ten-fold. Collectively, you have encouraged, supported, endured, and forgiven me. I am forever grateful to you for allowing me to be a part of this incredible community all these years.

I am humbled by the leadership provided by our Board of Regents to include dedicated and capable chairs in Kevin Malone (’69), Tom Tauke (’72), John Schmidt, Tony Reardon (’72), and Rich Scalise (’76). Our National Alumni Board, regional alumni chapters, and all our alumni were always so selfless, welcoming, and forthcoming. It’s been a pleasure to be an active member of our local, regional, and national associations. I learned much and only hope to have contributed a bit. From the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation to the Association of Catholic Colleges & Universities, from the National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities to the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, from Seton Hall University Board of Regents to the American Rivers Athletic Conference, I have loved learning from each experience and bringing Loras’ unique perspectives.

My heart has always been with our campus community. My administrative colleagues have worked long hours, served selflessly, and led admirably. Our staff is beyond dedicated, capable, and mission-consonant. Our faculty are incredibly student-centric, tremendously accomplished, and exceedingly great teachers. Our students have made me smile every day. I have loved most every interaction and am always inspired by their willingness to allow me to be part of their unique and complex lives. Their stories made me excited and committed to working hard every day. I will miss my daily interactions with this amazing community.

These are hard times for higher education, especially for private Catholic institutions. Please join me in praying for and financially supporting Loras. Know that I will always be a proud, annual financial contributor to and advocate for Loras. I hope you will, too.

I especially encourage you to join me in supporting the leadership transition. The new president will need you as much as I depended on you. In the weeks ahead, board leadership will be taking the next steps to move forward. As things evolve, Board Chair Rich Scalise (’76) will keep you informed.

For now, know that I am committed to working hard and achieving more success throughout the next year and beyond. We have much yet to do to further advance the goodness of Loras.

James E. Collins (‘84)