Transforming the Narrative
January 16, 2018
Dear Loyola Community,
Whether you decided to travel for the holidays or stayed in town, welcome back to a new semester at Loyola University Chicago. As we reflect on Epiphany and move into a new year, I wish everyone in our community success in discerning your path, discovering your unique strengths and gifts, gathering new knowledge, and directing your insights and passions toward the service of others.
We come together in the spirit of community, resolved to push the frontiers of our individual and collective knowledge to arrive at new insights and skills. In a fractious time in politics and culture, we recommit ourselves to remaining a welcoming and inclusive campus. We engage respectfully and thoughtfully in civil discourse. We look critically at ourselves and our communities and find ways where we can continue to improve. We embrace opportunities to serve in our professional, academic, and personal spheres.
I can think of no more appropriate way to return to this work and this mission than to take some time to honor and reflect on the legacy of Dr. King during the 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Loyola. Sponsored by the Executive Council for Diversity and Inclusion, the theme of this year’s celebration is “Transformative Thinking: Transforming the Narrative Toward Justice and Peace.” I encourage all to participate in the reflections, discussions, and multifaith celebrations during the week. I particularly encourage you to consider volunteering at one of many opportunities across the city on MLK Service Day, Friday, January 26.
I am taken aback to realize that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s martyrdom. In that half-century, our culture has evolved and our laws have progressed, yet deep divides and stubborn inequalities remain. Racism persists, with its legacy of health, economic, and achievement gaps.
In a time of loud voices and extreme politics, our Jesuit mission has never been more vital. Education through all levels including graduate school is the primary driver of social and economic mobility in American society. Loyola, through teaching, research, and service, continues to advance effective and meaningful change. We work to assure that a Loyola education is accessible to students from all backgrounds who will advance their horizons and push new frontiers. Along with others, we will continue to speak out about provisions in state and federal regulations that would limit access to college and graduate education. We continue to advocate for DACA students and other state and federal programs that support students and families with financial limitations.
All of you who make up our special Loyola community continually inspire me and so many others. In your studies and service work, you are transforming the narrative and moving us toward justice and peace. Even with rigorous academic schedules, you commit thousands of hours of direct service to the community every semester as a result of deeply held faith. Your involvement in research and clinical outreach helps serve patients and families and address inequities. Across disciplines you excel and grow and go on to provide service, education, hope, and healing. You add your distinct voice to the world. We are proud of your accomplishments and even more impressed with your impact.
Dr. King famously said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Drawing upon King’s words, President Barack Obama said decades later, “The arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own.”
I ask you to use your unique talents, determination, faith, and passion to bend this arc in the ways only you can. Advance knowledge, compassion, and justice with all your voice and talent. This semester, take full advantage of opportunities to be challenged and changed, to study and reflect, and discuss and debate, to serve your community and fellow human beings. Take time to listen and to take care of each other, and reflect upon what we as individuals and as a community can do for the world.
All the best wishes for a wonderful semester.
Dr. Jo Ann Rooney