2017-2018 Academic Year Welcome
August 22, 2017
Dear Members of the Loyola Community,
The start of a new academic year fills me with excitement as I look forward to all that we will accomplish and discover. Whether we are engaging in service projects locally or globally, pursuing breakthrough research in health care and science, joining with our community partners to improve local K-12 education, or working with new entrepreneurs to start neighborhood businesses and so much more, we are finding new and innovative ways to set the world on fire.
By their very nature, universities must be the ideal location, and offer the perfect setting, to safely explore your interests and transform your life. And yet, the repulsive events involving white supremacists on a college campus in Charlottesville this month remind us that our country remains deeply flawed. This is a significant moment for our nation, and bolstered by our Jesuit and Catholic mission, we must stand unified against such bigotry and hatred.
A Jesuit, Catholic education prepares individuals for more than just a job or a career—it transforms you and allows you to go out into the world and serve as a change agent in service to one another, particularly those marginalized and underserved. The hate on display in Charlottesville—and globally in Spain and Finland—has absolutely no place in a civilized society. I call on each of us, our Loyola community, to be sure that it has no place on our campuses. The first step in ensuring that we remain an open, welcoming, inclusive community is a relatively simple one: We must engage with each other respectfully and thoughtfully. Start by taking the time to get to know your classmates and colleagues—turn and talk to that person you see in the elevator every day, find common ground with a student organization that represents a perspective different from your own, or seek out individuals you disagree with and commit to a better understanding of each other’s views. This enables us to fully embrace and live out the principles and values imparted to us by St. Ignatius and makes them come alive in our contemporary world.
Loyola University Chicago is a community made stronger by our diversity. We welcome everyone—of all faiths, backgrounds, and identities—and we will not tolerate discrimination. We are dedicated to moving the world forward, and to do so we must be able to encounter philosophies that we disagree with and have conversations that sometimes make us very uncomfortable. Only when we take the time and spend the intellectual energy to learn all sides of an issue will we be able to successfully engage and advocate for our position. It is a university’s responsibility to challenge you, present you with a spectrum of ideas, and teach you how to responsibly sort through opinions and information. Spirited debate is critical to the success of our students and to our University. When we reflect on our own perspectives, learn to respectfully hear one another, and participate in discourse in a way that illuminates and advances dialogue and understanding, we grow as individuals and as a community. Yes, we intend to change the world.
When you joined Loyola you committed yourself to be a person for others, someone devoted to tackling the most complicated issues and doing what you can to elevate the most marginalized in our society. I ask each of you—whether student, faculty, or staff member—what will you do this academic year to make a difference? How will you go to the marginalized, as we are called to do, and effect change within our community, our city, and our world? What frontier will you explore and understand better than we do now?
We must live out the ideals of our mission and continue doing so every day. Providing access to institutions like Loyola, for example, is critical and is the cornerstone of our Arrupe College, which celebrated its first graduating class earlier this month. Issues of health equity demand our attention, and many innovative initiatives are underway. Awareness and care for our environment in responsible, sustainable ways will impact not only us but also future generations to come, and our Institute of Environmental Sustainability is leading the way. There are examples like this all across our University, and we must continue this important work if we are to resolve the divisive societal issues in front of us.
Universities across the country, including ours, will open their semesters with a renewed commitment to conversations around race relations and diversity. How lucky we are to be welcoming Wil Haygood, author of our First-Year Text, Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America, as our speaker at the New Student Convocation on Friday afternoon. All faculty and staff are encouraged to join me in participating in this timely address and wonderful tradition. I am eager to meet all our students—approximately 16,700 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students across the University.
I wish you the richest of experiences in your academic and extracurricular pursuits throughout the year. May we all continue to embrace our differences and celebrate our diversity as the source of our strength as we come together in the spirit of our shared mission to seek God in all things and contribute to the greater common good.
Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD