After four years in the role, Michael Andrews, P.h.D, is set to step down as director of Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center (JFRC) in June, according to a Jan. 13 email sent out by the Office of the Provost.
His last day as director will be June 30. The process of selecting a new director began in January and has now been narrowed down to three finalists, according to Loyola provost Norberto Grzywacz.
Since first becoming director in 2017, Andrews completed several projects for the JFRC including the completion of a new residence hall, chapel and outdoor basketball court at the Rome campus.
Andrews oversaw the redesign of the JFRC Foundation and Director’s Advisory Council, which were both set up to involve supporters and alumni to enhance planning for the JFRC. He also helped to revamp the Alumni Board, a group composed of Rome Center alumni meant to grow and support the JFRC alumni community, according to an email from JFRC.
Andrews said Grzywacz asked him to step down because the Office of the Provost had a new vision for academics and study abroad. According to Grzywacz, Loyola has created a new Office of Global and Community Engagement, which plans to develop new strategies including partnerships with universities in other countries and allow both Loyola students and students from other universities abroad to take classes together.
“This is simply a change for strategy for the university as a whole,” Grzywacz said. “The grand vision is that every student at Loyola will have a form of engagement with communities outside.”
Grzywacz told The Phoenix after a series of evaluations of Loyola’s abroad campuses, the office decided it needed leaders who were compatible with the new vision.
Andrews said he was unaware of these formal evaluations for the university’s new vision. However, he said he believes the new changes being implemented by the Provost are different from what he was originally hired to do as JFRC director. Andrews also said it seemed like a natural time to step down with his administrative contract ending June 30.
After leaving his position at the JFRC, Andrews said he will focus his time on the College of Arts and Sciences, where he will formally be a professor for Loyola’s department of philosophy. Andrews said he has a long background in philosophy including his studies at the Gregorian University in Rome.
Andrews also taught “Renaissance Philosophy of Art and the Human Person” in Florence and Rome while directing Seattle University’s “Italy Summer Study Abroad Program” for eight years, according to Andrews.
“I look forward to working closely with my philosophy colleagues, being back in the classroom and learning from my students,” Andrews said. “At heart, I am and always will be a teacher. It’s my human vocation and what I love doing. Everything else is ‘filler.’”
Andrews said his decisions as director were determined by how something would impact a student’s success and how it could contribute to Loyola’s Jesuit mission. For example, as director, he said he helped establish a new Global Health Initiative for nursing students, along with the health and wellness center in Rome that offers support for student health needs.
Students were last seen on the Rome campus at the end of February 2020, before COVID-19 cases started to increase in the U.S. The campus has not been in use for any educational purposes and was only open for a brief period for issues related to maintenance and renovation, according to Grzywacz.
The Office of Provost is hoping to announce the new JFRC director in March with a July 1 start date, according to Grzywacz. Along with finding a new director, Grzywacz also said the university is evaluating vaccination distribution and regulations in Italy to decide on a plan for students looking to study abroad in the fall.
The school has asked for students looking to travel to any country to apply to go abroad, but to also make alternative plans in case of cancellation.