Reflecting on the Academic Year
May 4, 2017
Dear Members of the Loyola Community,
The end of the spring semester is upon us, and we are preparing to congratulate the more than 4,000 students who will walk across the stage at this year's Commencement ceremonies. As we conclude the academic year and I reflect on my first year at Loyola, the many interactions with our talented students, faculty, staff, trustees, donors, and friends who are so passionately devoted to and invested in Loyola have stood out and been a source of inspiration to me. Their unwavering commitment to our Jesuit, Catholic heritage and mission is truly extraordinary and something for which we should all be thankful.
Access, Affordability, and Innovation
As we have discussed throughout the year at numerous meetings and forums, we are in a financially strong position at Loyola to proactively address numerous challenges that face us—and all of higher education—related to affordability, access, and financial stewardship. For us, it is about balancing that dynamic tension between cura personalis and cura apostolica, with both being rooted in our mission. Entering the next academic year, our strong recruitment efforts will bring a bright and diverse group of new undergraduate students to Loyola in the fall, as we continue working hard to ensure that as many students as possible—both new and returning—have access to our transformative education. The tuition increase for the 2017–18 academic year for continuing students was deliberately designed to be significantly lower than in recent years. This past February, we launched a year-long comprehensive review of our operational and fiscal priorities, which includes the participation of faculty, staff, and administrators on five financial working groups. These University-wide efforts will enable us to strategically plan mid- and long-term for the benefit of the institution and, most especially, for our students both present and future.
As we look forward together, our focus must continue to be on innovation and Plan 2020, maximizing opportunities to attract and retain new students; diversifying and building our revenue streams; growing our endowments and expanding our alumni engagement; establishing new partnerships with corporations, communities, and foundations; and enhancing translational research across all our campuses. Not only will innovation be key to the future of Loyola University Chicago but it will ensure that we are preparing our students in the best possible ways for future professions and challenges that are not even on our radar today. We are already guiding our students’ growth and skills in areas like critical thinking, communication, and complex problem-solving and reasoning, which will continue to be key in expanding global interactions. The new Student Innovation Fund, announced in the spring, was developed to encourage direct student involvement and has already received a dozen applications by students and registered student organizations across our campuses with more expected this fall. This initiative, coupled with the Academic Innovation Fund and Innovation Team that was announced earlier this year, is the first step in inspiring all of us to embrace innovation—doing things differently, acting on new opportunities for growth, and positioning our financial and human resources to support the highest mission-critical work.
In March, we were delighted to announce that Michael Kaufman, JD, was appointed dean of the School of Law, and this week we enthusiastically welcomed Damon Cates, EdD, as our new senior vice president for advancement and Steve A. N. Goldstein, MD, PhD, as dean of the Stritch School of Medicine. This summer, we will be joined by Goutham Menon, PhD, the new School of Social Work dean, and Michael Andrews, PhD, the new director of our John Felice Rome Center. Each of these talented academic and administrative leaders brings extraordinary experience, acumen, and a commitment to our Jesuit, Catholic mission, and their contributions to Loyola will greatly benefit the University and our broader communities.
Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse
The passionate engagement of students, faculty, and staff in the series of University-hosted civic engagement and civil discourse events this semester wonderfully reflects the desire of Loyolans to gather as members of a shared, diverse community to discuss, debate, and deliberate different perspectives and viewpoints on important issues. Our institutional promise—to embrace difficult societal issues facing us and the broader communities—is central to the success of Plan 2020 and, even more importantly, to the experience of our students, faculty, and staff that make up the Loyola community. This is the way for us to influence the future of our communities and society in ways leading to positive transformation. We will renew our efforts to create ongoing, meaningful opportunities for dialogue and debate this fall, and to further engagement by all so that we can realize the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves.
Many in our Loyola community will spend the summer participating in internships and service learning, continuing studies both locally and abroad, conducting research, and preparing to welcome students back for the fall semester. Despite this busy agenda, I encourage each of you to take some time to step back, recharge, and enjoy the summer months. On a special note for those of you who are graduating this month, congratulations on this milestone achievement! All of us at Loyola are very proud of every one of you and look forward to the many ways that you will embody the words of St. Ignatius and "set the world on fire."
Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD