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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Former assistant to the president reflects on her experiences at Loyola

Vicki Weller, who retired on Jan. 17 as assistant to the president, likened her job to an air traffic controller. “Everything that lands or takes off that has to do with the president goes through my office,” she said. She joined Loyola College 38 years ago, but for the last 20, Weller has been in the president’s office, managing his schedule, coordinating his cabinet meetings, planning luncheons with staff and administrators and serving on committees herself, like the one that created the AMDG award. Over the course of her career, she worked directly with two different presidents and witnessed the growth of a small, Catholic commuter college into a larger, more prestigious university.

Weller started her Loyola career in the vice president of finance’s office in the mid-70s. At the time, the university was much smaller. According to Weller, the Human Resources office consisted of one director and a part-time secretary, and the Financial Aid office housed only a director. All of these were housed in Maryland Hall, before the Sellinger addition.

Weller remained in that office for 18 years until Rev. Joseph Sellinger, S.J. (Loyola president 1964-93), passed away in office. When Rev. Harold Ridley, S.J., accepted the offer to fill the position, he started looking for an assistant; Weller applied and “was very fortunate to be hired and have the extreme privilege of working for Fr. Ridley for 11 years.”

They both worked out of a small office in Armiger House, the president’s residence, where the two of them constituted the entire President’s Office. Eventually they brought on a secretary and expanded into other rooms, but the two particular additions to their staff need an explanation: Weller’s Shetland sheepdogs.

“Fr. Sellinger had always had a dog. He had two black labs. The first one was named Kelly… and Kelly was a fixture on campus. She’d be all over the place, stealing students’ lunches, and the students loved her,” Weller said. When Fr. Sellinger became ill, Kelly’s successor was adopted by a local family.

According to Weller, this caused some confusion when Fr. Ridley took the office. “When Fr. Ridley came, people would come in [to the office] and say, ‘Where’s your dog?’ He’d say, ‘I don’t have a dog.’ ‘What? A president doesn’t have a dog?’ At Loyola that was unknown,” Weller said, laughing. When she got a new Shetland puppy, she brought it into the office one day and asked Fr. Ridley if he would mind since it was hard to house break a puppy when she was working all day. He relented, and, Weller said, “[the dog] became a regular employee.” Two years later she got another sheltie, and brought them both to work with her every day. “People just loved them,” she said. “Students would come here and say, ‘Where’s the dog?’ They’re a nice ice breaker—they just make you smile.”

Looking back, Weller said, “It was really a very extraordinary period of time. Not only my own personal experience, but the institution growing.” Under Fr. Ridley, the campus added the FAC and the Sellinger Business School building and renovated the College Center, Beatty, Jenkins and Maryland halls. Loyola was also expanding its outreach for students, recruiting for the first time on the west coast and internationally.

What Weller really valued about that time, though, were the people she worked with. “I would come into work and think, I get paid for this? [Fr. Ridley] was just such a wonderful person, and of course the people at Loyola are great, and that’s why I’ve been here as long as I have. People come and go, but the place seems to attract really nice people—people who are very sincere about what they’re doing and devoted to the institution and the students and the mission, and it shows.”

In 2005 Fr. Ridley passed away in office, as well, and Rev. Brian Linnane, S.J., was selected to replace him. “We were very fortunate.” Weller said. “Fr. Linnane is an extremely intelligent and very exceptional person, an exemplary Jesuit, and we were very fortunate to get him here,” particularly considering the small pool of Jesuits available.

Once Rev. Linnane joined, the Office of the President moved to its current location in the Humanities building, where Weller enjoyed being more involved in the day-to-day campus routines. She says that the University has continued in the same direction under Fr. Linnane, “keeping up with what’s current and in demand, and yet staying with the core values and the core education.” Even though the student body has grown, she believes the University maintains “the small college feel” and personal attention that has always attracted people to Loyola.

“It’s just been a place that I’ve always been very proud to be associated with,” Weller said. “I think that it comes down to that basic genuine quality that everyone has about what the University is all about, what we hope to achieve for the students who are graduating here.”

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Former assistant to the president reflects on her experiences at Loyola