2018-2019 Academic Year Welcome
September 4, 2018
Dear Members of the Loyola Community,
Welcome back to a new academic year at Loyola.
The beginning is always exciting and full of potential, with the anxiety of long to-do lists outweighed by the anticipation of reconnecting with our community friends and re-engaging with our work and our passions. We look forward as well to new frontiers–encountering new subjects, new students, new friends and colleagues, new points of view, new challenges, and new discoveries about ourselves and the world.
Over the summer, I participated in a weeklong gathering in Bilbao, Spain, where leaders from Jesuit institutions from around the world met to engage in dialogue around critical issues impacting their institutions today and to collaborate on ways to address them. Acknowledging the need to continue the collaborative work into the future, the charter establishing the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) was also signed. The underlying mission of IAJU is to support the Jesuit apostolate of higher education "to promote the development of a more just and humane world for the greater glory of God."
What does this mean for us as we return to our work at Loyola University Chicago and how must we approach this challenging mission now and into the future?
During an address to the assembly at the meeting, Father General Arturo Sosa called upon Jesuit colleges and universities to work for reconciliation and peace and to anticipate the needs for the future. He also challenged all of us to go to places that are not easy to reach and that others have avoided. For faculty and staff at Loyola, that means we must continue to extend and deepen our work and relationships, that we thoughtfully engage in civil discourse and dialogue to discern our calls to action, and that we embrace our creativity to develop and support programs, activities, and learning communities preparing our graduates to focus on changing the world for the better. For students, it means making the most of the opportunities to both extend and deepen their insights about themselves and the world. It is also about finding ways to use that knowledge and their gifts in service to others. Together, we are educating students to challenge boundaries, work across social and political divides, and become engaged citizens of the world.
The Jesuit tradition is nearly 500 years old but one of its chief characteristics is its attention to the need of the current era while also anticipating the emerging needs of the future. Loyola has been a part of the fabric of Chicago for nearly 150 years and has always reached out to first-generation students and those who have been underserved by higher education. We cultivate diversity of background and viewpoint on our campus as an educational value. It makes our community stronger and more vibrant; it deepens and enriches the educational conversation. Our Jesuit framework, dedicated to the care of the whole person and respect for each individual, compels us to model reconciliation and community. This includes authentic hospitality, inclusive excellence, empathic dialogue, critical thinking, and imaginative scholarship.
This is not just theory. These are qualities that we aspire to live every day: in the classroom or clinic, in the laboratory or library, on the playing field, and with our family and friends. This year will offer a range of important opportunities to come together as members of this community to recognize and extend our work and to grow as colleagues and as a community. We will celebrate the five-year anniversary of Loyola's Institute of Environmental Sustainability, which has rapidly become one of the nation's leading centers for urban sustainability and a model for environmental research, action, and outreach. The manner in which IES has helped Loyola wrap sustainability throughout its curricula and campuses is an apt example of the Jesuit method and ethos in higher education. We are motivated in this work for numerous reasons but find special solidarity with the most vulnerable people who have been pushed to the margins. In so doing, we care for the whole person, for the whole planet, physically and spiritually.
This year, we welcome the largest freshman class in our history. In the coming days and weeks, we will announce new action steps from a task force established in the spring to enhance and make more transparent the work of our Campus Security office. More broadly, we will be addressing issues of race, inclusion, and personal experience at Loyola and in society by continuing a community-wide discussion begun last spring around the Diversity Climate Survey. As part of Ignatian Heritage Month in November, we will invite the community to participate in an Institutional Examen, which will be a searching inventory and measure of our performance against mission. It will empower us as a community to identify where we can do better in fulfilling best practices and our ideals today and into the future. These opportunities for us to listen and learn from each other will animate and energize our efforts to model Jesuit dialogue, reflection, and action. I encourage everyone to participate in some form in these community reflections. They are integral to our tradition, will form the basis of our future strategy, and will motivate us to be inspired and responsive to the needs of the larger world.
I am deeply grateful for each and every member of our staff and faculty and all that you do every day for students, for your disciplines, for our University, and our society. Our mission has never been more important. Let us seize the opportunities this year to truly make a difference and to educate remarkable future leaders who will help guide us to more just, sustainable, and beautiful world.
Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD
Loyola Links. On August 11, I spoke to the second graduating class of Loyola's Arrupe College. It is always a joyous and inspiring occasion as Arrupe graduates and their families and friends celebrate their accomplishments. You can read more about Arrupe's Impact in Chicago's High Schools here and my remarks to the graduates here. Over the summer, Loyola was ranked number 5 among the Top 10 Most Eco-Friendly Colleges by College Magazine. Last week, throngs of Loyolans came to the Damen Student Center to help our Sister Jean celebrate her 99th birthday. Last month, Chicago Magazine spent some time with her. In two weeks, we will welcome Loyola's closest friends and supporters to raise scholarship resources for first-generation students at the annual Founders' Dinner.