The Year Ahead
There is a palpable uptick in energy on our campuses as July becomes August. Staff from student development, student academic services, residence life, and campus ministry have been busy throughout the summer working with returning students on orientation programs for our newest Ramblers. Contractors, facilities staff, and grounds crews are completing summer projects, enhancing our campus for the new academic year. Along with many of you, I look forward to meeting our new students and their families later his month, and in the discussions at New Student Convocation focused on the First-Year text, Ghosts in the Schoolyard authored by this year’s speaker, Eve Ewing. The book is a compelling and well-documented look at social divisions, racism, and school closings in Chicago and I would recommend it to everyone--not just our newest students.
The book centers on the complex factors that enable institutional racism and economic inequality. Our take-away as a University community is to identify how we can continue advancing social justice through research, scholarship, and action across and between disciplines. Faculty and staff from our schools, departments, centers and institutes are in ongoing contact with community partners, students, and community residents as we seek to provide educational opportunity and access both on and beyond our campuses. Just two good examples from this summer are Science Sisters Day at our Health Sciences Campus and the Pathways to STEM workshops hosted in July at our Lake Shore Campus.
During the summer months, many of Loyola’s incredible faculty continue to work unabated, teaching, engaging in research and service, and preparing for fall classes. Our 2019 Sujack Award Winners, recognized late in the spring semester, exemplify the best in teaching and research in the College of Arts & Sciences at Loyola. It is a joy to learn more about how they are leading their fields and serving our students and the wider community. In September, at Faculty Convocation, we will recognize outstanding faculty from across the University. Our University’s academic reputation has never been stronger and extends beyond the Chicagoland region. This recognition is driven by the breadth of knowledge, depth of research, and excellence in the classroom of our faculty. For the first time, at least half of our incoming freshman class, this fall, will be coming from outside of Illinois; just one indication, among many, of Loyola’s growing national reputation and our nationwide recruiting efforts.
It was wonderful being able to visit with so many faculty and staff at the Feast of St. Ignatius Day Picnic. I want to extend a special “thank you” to the many University community members who participated in Ignatian Service Day projects. Your work reflects so well on the university community and your efforts make all of us proud. Next week, we will gather to celebrate the remarkable graduates of Arrupe College at their third annual commencement ceremony. These students have persevered through many challenges and obstacles and can often speak first-hand about their experiences with the systemic dysfunction described in Ghosts in the Schoolyard. They achieved success at Arrupe, receive associates degrees, and pursue life-changing career paths or continue on to four-year degree programs at Loyola Chicago, Marquette, Loyola Maryland, Loyola New Orleans, University of Illinois, DePaul, Dominican, and the University of Southern California. This innovative educational model, steeped in the Jesuit notion of cura personalis, is helping the national educational community find new paths to college affordability, support, and success for first-generation students from underserved neighborhoods.
Starting this fall and extending through December 2020, Loyola University Chicago will join in commemorating the 150th anniversary of its founding. The celebrations kick off in fall 2019, with more robust programming commencing in January 2020 to mark our anniversary year. The official “birthday” of Loyola is September 5, 1870 – the first day of classes at the original St. Ignatius College. A number of events will occur around this historic date. In addition, Loyola has been chosen to as the host institution for the 2020 Opus Prize. The 150th celebration will culminate with special events around this prestigious award in November of 2020. Please watch for regular updates and ways you can become involved from the Celebration 150 Committee co-chaired by James Prehn, S.J., Vice President, Chief of Staff, and Rector of the Jesuit Community, and Janet Sisler, Vice President for Mission Integration.
Loyola University Chicago is not the only special birthday about to be celebrated. A special Rambler is about to celebrate her 100th! Please join us on August 21 at the Damen Student Center, when we celebrate the 100th birthday of Loyola’s Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, B.V. M. Help us mark this special day by coming together to eat birthday cake, sing happy birthday, and honor the incomparable Sr. Jean, whose unique work and ministry has touched thousands if not millions of lives at Loyola and around the world. Through her very presence, she exemplifies and models what is best about our Jesuit mission and university community.
Our University is dedicated to shaping extraordinary lives and is driven by remarkable people who bring ingenuity, passion, creativity, and commitment to animate our mission. It can never be stated often enough; you have my deepest gratitude for all you do for Loyola Chicago and our students each and every day. I look forward to a year of rich collaboration on work that extends beyond our campus borders to impact lives and communities for the betterment of the world.
Dr. Jo Ann Rooney