Academic Vice President invests in students, faculty by giving to Loras


Dr. Donna Heald joined Loras College in July 2017 as vice president of academic affairs.

Since then, she has joined the thousands of alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends who annually give to Loras. She sees it as an investment in the students and faculty.

“I’ve been so impressed with Loras students,” Heald said. “They are exceptionally bright and talented, multitalented. They excel in the classroom, in athletics, in music and theater. It’s just been a delight to meet them and to learn from them.”

To Heald, it’s also important to support Loras faculty. “They do amazing things working with students at all levels, in and out of the classroom,” she said. “They’re the ones who provide the transformative experiences to students. Ultimately, that’s why we’re all here — for the students.”

Heald is a northeast Pennsylvania native who had never been to Iowa before she applied for her position at Loras. She earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Scranton and her master’s and doctorate degrees in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. She came to Loras from The Sage Colleges in New York, where she was associate provost and dean. Prior to that, she served at Fordham University as associate dean for science education. Throughout her career, she has taught chemistry at the undergraduate and graduate levels, general education courses and vocation-based courses for students considering careers in the health professions.

Her administrative experience was good preparation for coming to Loras, she said, given the implementation of the new general education program and the graduate programs that are being developed. For her, Loras was a good fit because she wanted to return to Catholic higher education, where she has spent most of her career.

“I wanted to serve as vice president for academic affairs so that I could work collaboratively with the faculty to set the vision and direction for academic affairs and also contribute to strategic planning at the institution,” she said. “When I learned of this position, it caught my attention.”

She liked that Dubuque was a community on the Mississippi River and admired the pride she sensed throughout the community and on campus. Also, she wanted to work at a college where faculty value teaching and working with students in and out of the classroom.

“Loras’ emphasis on experiential learning was very attractive to me,” she said.

The support Loras receives from its army of loyal alumni and other supporters is also impressive.

“Students are able to apply what they learn and accomplish their goals because of the grants and scholarships they receive as a result of that support,” she said. She added that faculty and staff benefit as well, regardless of whether it is a small donation to support a lecture series or a large gift given to fund construction or renovation of buildings.“

“Every gift makes an impact,” she said.