State of the University Address
President Michael J. Garanzini, S.J.
It is an honor to come before you once again, at the start of a new academic year, to report to you the state and condition of the University, and to reflect on some important matters that lie before us as educators and as members of the Loyola University Chicago community. I’d like to use this State of the University address to assess three matters:
- How we are responding to recent successes and present challenges brought on by growth?
- How are we strengthening our competitive position regionally and nationally?
- What are the internal and external challenges to do so?
How is Loyola going to achieve its mission in the midst of new challenges?
A university, any university, that is not consciously responding to the challenges before it, and not doing so in light of its unique mission, is likely to drift and to find itself squandering time, opportunity, and its legacy. My message is simple: although we are doing well—the institution is advancing in every way—we would be foolish to become complacent. Significant challenges lie ahead, and I’d like to detail them for you in a few minutes.
A. Responding to recent successes:
As we look back on the past five years, we recognize that our University has changed in significant ways. We’ve grown from a 12,000 student body to one approaching 15,000. We’ve addressed deferred maintenance issues in almost all of our buildings. We’ve built two new residence halls. The John and Terese Terry Student Center and the Raymond C. Baumhart, S.J. Residence Hall were dedicated just this past week. We’ve added a state-of-the-art science center to enhance our teaching and lab facilities. A fourth building, a new Information Commons, is under construction. It will double our library and study facilities. We’ve restored salaries for faculty and staff to competitive levels and we’ve begun hiring new colleagues to join us.
1. The physical growth of the student body:
To meet the challenge of the recent growth of the student body, we will continue to hire new faculty. This fall we will begin recruiting for another eleven new positions in the College of Arts and Sciences, and an additional seven in other schools. This fall we welcomed over 65 new faculty members, including 20 who are tenure-track. In addition, several endowed chairs have become available and several new chairs are being created. These chairs are fully funded and will begin to give us resources for proper support of the endowed chairs that we currently have and the ones we anticipate adding. In all, we hope to add ten endowed chairs to the College during the campaign and another six to various professional schools. Medicine hopes to add ten as well.
The refurbishing of Dumbach Hall was one of several projects this summer to upgrade classrooms. New technologically-enhanced classrooms were added to several buildings, including Crown Center, 25 East Pearson Street, and student residence halls .
2. Greater clarity and participation in shared governance:
A Task Force on Shared Governance delivered its report to me last spring, and I can say that its recommendations have been nearly completely implemented. I have approved many of the new amendments to the Shared Governance Charter proposed by the Faculty Council and we will begin implementing these recommendations shortly. There are three key concepts in the amended charter. The first is to expand participation in the University Policy Committees, and the second is to put control of appointments in the hands of various elected groups like the Faculty Council, Staff Council, and Unified Student Government, or those members representing these stake-holders in University policy. The third involves the selection of chairs for the Committees. I want to thank Linda Heath and Fred Wezeman and the task force members for their hard work and the deliberations that led to what I think will be a more successful and representative shared governance process.
3. Restoring our diversity:
Last year was also a time to assess how we are dealing with the recruitment and advancement of women. The Women’s Commission presented a report in June which has also been the focus of serious discussion and deliberation. We’ve begun implementing its recommendations, but as my response to the Commission indicates, the issue of under-represented groups is a broader and more vexing one than just the under-representation of women in key administrative leadership roles. If we are, as we say in the opening lines of our mission statement, "a diverse community seeking God in all things," we are challenged to add African-Americans, Latinos, and other under-represented minorities to our ranks in leadership, as members of the faculty, and in key staff positions as well. As the Provost has pointed out, our problems were exacerbated by the fact we did not hire new colleagues to replace those who left for a five- or six-year period. Efforts to downsize our operations in those years allowed us to continue to serve students in and out of the classroom but they did not allow us to compete for those talented women and members of minority groups who would be enriching our ranks today. I want to thank the members of the Women’s Commission for their hard work and to say that we want to commit ourselves to do all we can in each job search and each promotion we undertake.
B. Strengthening our position regionally and nationally:
1. New Programs:
A number of new programs is being launched, many of which are multidisciplinary in nature. Building on our core strength in health sciences, the School of Business has collaborated with the Medical Center to launch a Health Care Management MBA program. Other new multidisciplinary degree programs that are up and running include bachelors programs in Advertising and Public Relations, Bilingual-Bicultural Education, Bioinformatics, Black World Studies, Forensic Science, Health Systems Management (in Nursing), Human Services, International Media and Film Studies, Journalism, Management and Organizational Leadership (for adult students), Sport Management, and the interdisciplinary Honors Program. Graduate programs that have come online include: Advertising and Public Relations/Integrated Marketing Communication, Clinical Research Methods, Health Care Management (MBA), Health Law, School Technology, Science Education, and Social Justice.
Future interdisciplinary programs that are in development include graduate programs in Communications, Environmental Sciences, Genomics, Public Policy, and Risk Management (MBA), and undergraduate programs in Allied Health Care (for adult students) and TV-Radio-New Media Production.
2. New Opportunities for faculty:
I already mentioned the building up of our faculty with new positions and with endowed chairs. Strong leadership at the departmental and school level is now in place to help shape the future academic profile of the institution. I know our deans are committed to increased opportunities for faculty, such as leave of absence and increased travel and research funds. This past year money was set aside to support several international conferences which would involve our use of the Rome Center and the Beijing Center for international symposia on issues selected by our colleagues and for our home campuses here in Chicago. Several of the recently created Centers of Excellence are planning to host important meetings of specialists from around the country. A $1 million endowment was created for assisting deans to support faculty on competitive leaves of absence. More money will be put into travel to assist faculty invited to present papers at national and regional meetings.
3. Improving our fiscal position:
In the area of fiscal management, we are creating a very strong and financially secure University. Last year was Loyola’s strongest year yet. Reserves have been restored that will allow us to finance several projects without borrowing. A fund has been created that will allow us to retire more than $200 million dollars of University debt by the year 2020. Endowment has been restored to the level it was in 1996 before we began spending un-designated funds and reserves to balance the budget. And, more than $45 million was re-invested in infrastructure and new facilities and technology projects, a few of which I mentioned earlier. These include a new fine and performing arts center which is now under construction, a complete renovation of Sullivan Hall for a single-stop student services center, a renovation of the Madonna della Strada Chapel and the major, multi-year overhaul of Mundelein Center, which is scheduled for completion in three more years.
4. Adding new facilities:
The new Information Commons is surely our most visible effort to bring us squarely into the information age and to help us achieve a long-needed, state-of-the-art facility for study and for scholarly research. This project is scheduled for completion a little more than a year from now and will add 60,000 square feet to our library at the Lake Shore Campus. The libraries downtown on the Water Tower Campus are also scheduled for renovation and will follow on the heels of the Lake Shore addition.
5. Increasing external support:
Much of this would not be possible without assistance from alumni and friends. In addition to the previously cited accomplishments, Loyola had its strongest year in development and fund-raising, with total giving in excess of $35 million. Alumni giving was at an all-time high, as were donations from friends of Loyola. On Monday evening, we announced to the Medical Center’s Leadership Society (the society of major donors) three new significant gifts, including a $10 million donation from one of the trustees of the Medical Center.
A new public awareness and branding campaign was launched and has been, by all measures, highly successful both internally and externally. It has been popular with students, parents, and alumni, many of whom have commented favorably to us in writing. In sum, our faculty and resources for them are being built. Our capital needs are being addressed and enhanced. Our fiscal health has been restored. Our alumni and friends are being re-engaged. Finally, we appear to be more attractive than ever to prospective students. The total number of applications this past year was over 20,000, up from only 7,000 five years ago. This has led to the largest class in Loyola’s history, with 2,134 first year students and 736 transfer students, for a total of 2,870 new students.
Our ability to respond to these opportunities and the challenges that come with them as effectively as we have thus far are the result of the hard work of many people. We have much to be grateful for. We’ve been blessed by talented colleagues who work hard each day for Loyola: by faculty who teach each day and manage to continue their research, by administrators and staff who facilitate the academic enterprise, and by alumni and friends who support what we are doing because they believe that it truly matters.
In particular, I would like to note some special accomplishments:
- For bringing in the largest class in Loyola’s history and leading the transition to the new Sullivan Center, Terry Richards, Eric Weems, and their staff in Admissions and Financial Aid;
- For leading us to greater financial security, clarity, and discipline, Bill Laird and his colleagues in the Finance Office;
- For his leadership in completing the new student center and residence hall on the Water Tower Campus, and for the dozen other renovation and improvement projects undertaken this past year, and for keeping us safe, Phil Kosiba and his colleagues in the Facilities Division;
- For the planning and infrastructure improvements, as well as new services in technology, Susan Malisch and her colleagues in Information Technology Services;
- For helping us tell our story to the external world, and for the new efforts at keeping us informed within the University, Kelly Shannon and her colleagues in University Marketing and Communications;
- For the work of the advancement division, which has reconnected us with friends and alumni and has begun laying the groundwork for a major campaign, Jon Heintzelman and his colleagues in Advancement;
- For the work of some special assistants to my office, who have brought considerable new resources to Loyola, John Costello and Phil Hale;
- And finally, I want to thank the members of the Student Affairs division, especially Fr. Salmi, for their tireless work on behalf of our students. The welcome events earlier this month demonstrated their competence and professionalism and received praise from dozens of parents and students. The many other activities for and with students preparing them to adjust to college life and accept the new challenges of a Loyola education have given us an exceptional start to the new year.
6. New Challenges Ahead:
While it is certainly an enjoyable experience reporting to you about the way we are meeting our present challenges and restoring our competitive advantage, I believe it would be foolish on our part if we were lulled into complacency or a false sense of security regarding challenges that we will continue to face. So before I address the question, "How are we re-appropriating our past to better meet the demands of our mission?" I would like to enumerate some challenges that I believe are already upon us. This will better set the stage for a consideration of our mission.
Internal challenges that we need to address include include retention, selectivity, and faculty cultivation.
Our retention rate is indicative of the fact that we are not yet able to attract and retain the most gifted and dedicated students. We have brighter, better prepared students, but our retention rate does not reflect that we are meeting their expectations. Our freshman class is a bit smarter each year and is still reflective of the kind of University we are and hope to remain—we draw our students from the city and other urban areas, we are dedicated to educating a diverse student body, and we are increasingly national and global. A third of the students identify themselves as non-Caucasian. A third are first-generation college students. Those from Chicago are from both public and private schools—in fact, our largest feeder high school is Lane High School. This freshman class contains 48 National Merit finalists, and over 600 of these students won merit scholarships. While we can be proud of those numbers and the quality of students we bring to the University, our retention rate and graduation rate have not budged over the past decade. A task force is busy working on this issue and I look forward to their recommendations. We might ask ourselves: Are we as helpful a place as we think we are? Is our curriculum as cohesive and challenging? Are we taking the right students?
b. Competition, especially for graduate students:
Our graduate enrollments are also stronger, but we should be more competitive. The School of Social Work continues to grow. The nursing school has as many students as it can accommodate. The School of Law had a remarkable increase in applications and recruited its strongest class ever, raising the LSAT averages by two full points, which is nearly unheard of. IPS, the School of Education, and the Quinlan School of Business are up in graduate enrollments. Our masters and doctoral programs in the Graduate School are doing remarkably well. Dean Attoh is shaping enrollments and with the assistance of a strong group of graduate program directors, is building masters and doctoral classes that are academically stronger and more diverse geographically, racially, and culturally. We need to invest in more graduate assistantships in the years ahead in order to better compete for the top graduate students. Our graduate students bring a great deal to our University and assist us in delivering our educational program. I don’t want to take their contribution lightly, and so the best way to show appreciation is to assist them in completing their program in a timely and affordable manner. Clearly, we need to do more to assess and meet the competition for top-quality graduate students.
c. Orienting faculty for mission:
The new faculty each year are stronger, and many show a keen interest in Loyola and want to know what it stands for and what kind of place this is. But how successful are we at incorporating them into our mission? While the caliber and enthusiasm of this group is impressive, and while we can feel confident that we are attracting new colleagues who are gifted scholars, is it clear to them how the values of this institution are promoted and how we wish to do so in our curriculum and in our mentoring of students? Do they know what we mean by our values, our heritage, and our tradition? Do we provide them merely with the support that will allow them to succeed as members of a discipline, or do we bring them into our particular way of seeing our mission in higher education and scholarship? Are we guided by a clear vision of what we want to accomplish here as a Jesuit, Catholic, urban, research University in order that they might join us in that effort?
Three external pressures that we need to address include a resistance to rising tuition costs, the changing world of health care, and questions of our relevance and service.
d. Resistance to rising tuition costs:
Many of you have no doubt seen the press reports and know about national pressure to hold down the cost of tuition and increase accessibility to higher education. The public is weary of the rise in tuition each year and we could be pricing ourselves out of our historic market if we are not careful. We certainly will face pressure to keep tuition increases at minimum levels. Recent increases have helped pay for the expansion and renewal projects outlined earlier. So, less money from tuition means tighter budgets in the future.
e. Changing world of health care:
Our Medical Center continues to do well but the health care world—a world of increasing competition for good leaders, for good research faculty, and for funding for patient care— is only going to become more challenging. How? ow? We will be increasingly challenged to do more, serve more patients, attract more attention, and attract a better patient-payer mix. Dr. Barbato’s retirement has led naturally and realistically to a time of introspection, and, hopefully, his replacement will lead to a time of renewal. His service to the institution has been enormous. His steady hand has guided the Medical Center to achievements that would have been difficult or impossible to foresee a decade ago, let alone hope for.
f. Questions of our relevance and service:
A more divided Church and society will continue to view the academy as a place that is weak when it comes to supporting strongly held values. The Church, in particular, which is entering a period of stress where its own relevance is questioned, will continue to watch with skepticism our development and direction.
C. Re-appropriating our mission:
Responding to each of these will require different strategies, but one thing that can assist us is distinguishing ourselves as a unique institution.
In some instances, more money can help us. Better planning could help. But I would contend that only by becoming more authentically who we are and claim to be in our mission statement will we be capable of meeting these and other challenges in the years ahead. Why does truly becoming "a diverse community seeking God in all things" and being dedicated to promotion of faith and social responsibility help us to better meet these challenges? It would give us a renewed sense of purpose and it would help us with the choices we will face. It would give us an authentic place in the regional and national world of higher education. In short, it would renew our sense of purpose and direction.
There was a time, not too long ago, when we did not reflect on our mission as a Jesuit, Catholic, urban institution. We may have been aware of our position vis-à-vis the other great institutions in Chicago and worried about our competitive status as a research institution. But we did not speak about the other key descriptors of our identity—that is, our nature and mission as a Jesuit, Catholic, Jesuit, and urban institution. They may have been obvious to some, an embarrassment to others, or too perplexing to allow for comfortable discourse and dialogue.
Last year, in January, in two separate trips, the deans and vice presidents went to examine how two other Jesuit universities understand themselves as Jesuit institutions within their particular nation and region in the world. One group went to San Salvador to visit the catholic University of the Americas. The other group went to Peru to visit the Jesuit University in Lima, Ruiz de Montoyo. Both institutions take as a starting point that to be relevant, a university that is Catholic and Jesuit must deal with the pressing social issues of the culture in which it is embedded.
At both institutions, we discovered a lively debate over the appropriate ways in which a university should conduct itself, how it should establish its priorities, how engaged it might be, and in what ways. The respective and proper roles of curricula , of teaching, and of research were explored alongside those of service. In neither place did we encounter an attitude that all activities, all research, and all pedagogy ought to be directed toward any one particular aim, but we did see consensus that the university ought to stand for something—that it should be known as a place where, in the case of these two institutions, the plight of the poor is taken seriously and where social justice is a prevailing theme.
This past summer, the vice presidents and deans spent some time exploring the notion that our university ought to stand for something and be distinguished by some ethos or, more precisely, ought to take its mission more seriously. We discussed how we might, as an institution, become more true to our mission and advance our institutional identity as a Jesuit, Catholic, research institution in and connected to the City of Chicago. Our thinking went something like this: our present solid financial, academic, and enrollment footing should enable us to think more concretely about how to develop as a world-class institution in each of these significant identity areas.
We asked ourselves the following questions: How can we be more connected to the City of Chicago, more linked in terms of our research and service endeavors to the enormous needs of our urban environment? How can we be more authentic in our service to the Church, especially through an appropriation of the rich heritage of the Catholic faith and tradition to today’s problems and challenges? How can we be an even more significant contributor to the Jesuit network of institutions and the aims of the Society of Jesus?
Of course, we academic administrators cannot answer these questions on our own. Therefore, it was recommended that we launch several initiatives that will widen the discussion and spread the responsibility for how we might address these questions as a community.
First, we propose to enter into an institutional discussion of how better to connect with the City of Chicago and work with key agencies, groups, and neighborhoods. Programs like Magis obviously have a role because Magis is already doing this. Our Centers of Excellence have begun doing this—especially in terms of service and research. Increased internships and placements for students, as well as volunteer opportunities and more involvement with the city’s cultural institutions are envisioned.
Secondly, enhancing our Catholic identity and heritage and increasing our service engagements, especially in those ways we are uniquely qualified—in research and reflection—will also be explored in the days ahead.
How do we become more engaged in an exploration of the social justice dimension of our mission as a Jesuit institution? Some of the initiatives mentioned earlier—for instance, support for academic conferences, support for the Centers of Excellence, more research leaves for faculty—are all part of the strategy to explore these opportunities. In addition, a Council on Social Justice will be formed for us to learn from one another since many faculty are already well-versed and well-practiced in gearing their research and teaching to questions of social justice. When I think of the potential we have at Loyola—our health center, our long tradition in applied ethics, our doctoral programs in the humanities, our array of professional schools, and, finally, our location in one of the most dynamic cities in the world—I cannot help but think we have the raw material for becoming one of the most prominent Catholic institutions in the country. Those other Catholic institutions who seek to lead in this area may have more financial resources at the present time, but we are not hampered by geography, by breadth of academic program and interest, or by diversity, conditions that can be limiting for institutions without these advantages.
I will be inviting individuals to explore this issue with me. In the days ahead I would like to create a symposium, a sustained conversation, on what Loyola ought to do to enhance its dedication to its mission. I do not see this as the exclusive domain of trustees, but they are very interested in participating in this conversation with us. I do not see this as a question the administration can tackle alone. It is very much a matter which would require faculty and staff engagement. It necessarily would be inclusive of rank and academic interest area, of religious background, and of the various campuses. I hope you will be open to hearing more about this work.
Again, thank you for your hard work throughout the year to make Loyola University Chicago the excellent institution that it is.