By Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.
As I prepare to deliver my 2019 convocation address, “Educat3d,” in Sacred Heart Chapel tomorrow, I take this opportunity to thank you for advancing our university through your ambition, dedication, and commitment to our mission. I am honored to collaborate with each of you in making LMU a force for good in the world. Reflecting on this past year, I offer highlights of what we accomplished together in pursuit of our shared vision.
ACADEMIC QUALITY AND RENOWN
Our latest national ranking is a collective triumph: LMU is No. 64 among the nation’s elite higher education institutions, according to U.S. News & World Report. This recognition places us among the top six private universities in California, with CalTech, Stanford, and USC, and in the top four Jesuit universities in the country, with Georgetown, Boston College, and Santa Clara. Our increasing reputational capital and visibility continue to position our academic excellence.
Our first-year undergraduates also exemplify our soaring academic achievement. We continue to recruit high-potential students who become high-impact leaders. The Class of 2023 hails from 42 states and 53 countries, and they earned an all-time high average high school GPA of 3.9. They were selected from a record-breaking pool of more than 18,500 prospective students—a 40% increase in applications over the past five years. This was our most selective year, with an admit rate of 44%, which ensures that our students are among the best in the nation.
A COMMUNITY OF IDEAS
Be it in the classroom, library, or public forums, our LMU community engages a spectrum of ideas and promotes lifelong learning. Our learning becomes exponentially meaningful when we share it, on and off the bluff, when we are willing to connect, meld, and grow. The following highlights exemplify our commitment to championing a thriving and intellectual community:
- As the William H. Hannon Library celebrates 10 years of bold information stewardship, they also celebrate a decade of insightful conversations showcasing our renowned faculty’s scholarship with Faculty Pub Night. Upcoming programs include a talk about the need for enhancing library information skills, a discussion about the politics of abolitionism, and an exploration of critical discourse in intercultural theatre.
- The rhythm of words stirred minds this summer at CFA performances of “As You Like It” and “Pericles”: Shakespeare on the Bluff drew 2,400 theatregoers to Lawton Plaza and Playa Vista.
- 2,000 Angelenos celebrated community and music under the sun at our fifth annual Salsa Fest.
- The Portal, an immersive storytelling showcase, was co-hosted by SFTV and Film Independent at our Playa Vista Campus, where more than 500 boundary-pushing and curious minds intermingled with mixed reality experiences.
- Earlier this month, LLS and SFTV partnered with the Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association to engage scholars, lawyers, innovators, and students in solving the legal and business issues raised by emerging technologies at “TechTainment 5.0” at our Playa Vista Campus.
- We welcomed four-star Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski to campus for Seaver Spotlight. Pawlikowski, the third female Air Force general officer to reach four-star rank, shared her experiences as a woman in engineering and in the military.
- The CSJ Center’s ongoing Justice and Spirituality on Screen series is surveying ideas about faith and culture through the lens of contemporary film.
- Laband Art Gallery, in collaboration with LGBT Student Services, Asian Pacific Student Services, the Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination, and Iggy’s Yarnsters, presents the West Coast debut of artist Antonius-Tín Bui, whose work explores how intersectional gender identities are reflected in today’s culture. “Finding Heart (tìm tim)” runs through Dec. 14, 2019.
- On Oct. 29, as part of the 2019 Bellarmine Forum, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti will discuss emerging trends in public policy that will impact the future of the region and share his vision for expanding L.A.’s leadership as a global and sustainable city.
These highlights showcase a few special moments among many that lay a foundation for scholarship, teaching, and forming students poised to create the world they want to live in.
A COMMUNITY WITH GLOBAL IMAGINATION
Our global imagination continues to flourish. Some examples of our reach:
- Our Bioethics Institute hosted Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, who spent the day at LMU speaking with students and faculty about the complexity of bioethical issues in our contemporary world.
- The Global Policy Institute hosted Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser to former President Barack Obama, with BCLA students moderating a nuanced dialogue across a scope of global and domestic policy issues.
- In cooperation with our Irish Studies program, we welcomed the Irish Prime Minister Leo Eric Varadkar, who celebrated the opening of the Irish Consulate General in Los Angeles and spoke about expanding Ireland’s partnership with the creative industries in L.A.
- From learning about multicultural counseling alongside peers at the Jesuit IBERO in Mexico City to an interdisciplinary graduate course on urban education and theology in New Zealand, our SOE students engaged a range of immersive graduate study abroad programs and global experiences this summer.
- An interdisciplinary team of undergraduate CBA students placed second in the Global Finals of the KPMG Innovation and Collaboration Challenge, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- And as part of the celebration of Unity Park in the restored Ethiopian National Palace in Addis Ababa, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia—and 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate—Abiy Ahmed unveiled an LMU Tsehai Publishers
A COMMUNITY THAT CARES
Our LMU community continues to make strides in fostering a more welcoming and inclusive environment through our campus-wide implicit bias initiative. So far, this fall, all incoming undergrads have participated in implicit bias workshops as part of Student Affairs’ LMU CARES. Implicit bias workshops for faculty and staff are ongoing and give us an opportunity to engage in illuminating conversations, reflect on our biases, and discern how we might become better. If you have not done so already, please take a moment to register for an upcoming workshop.
2019 marks the 20th anniversary of our Feed the Hungry Program, one of the many ways our students, faculty, and staff serve our most vulnerable community members. This commitment to social justice, and desire to deepen our understanding of those in need is essential to who we are as a Catholic university with Jesuit and Marymount traditions. That’s why Princeton Review ranks LMU No. 3 in the nation for “students most engaged in community service.” We provide a quarter-million hours’ worth, annually.
As we wait for the Supreme Court to hear arguments about the fate of hundreds of thousands of immigrants protected by DACA, the higher education community must remind Congress of the benefits our country has experienced thanks to Dreamers: they contribute to our communities, and they strengthen our economy. They represent what is best about America, which is why I called on colleagues to urge Congress to pass legislation to protect our Dreamers. I ask each of you to do the same. This is not a political plea; it is a shared human responsibility.
The polarization we experience in this country and across the globe is often distressing and overwhelming, and sometimes we need extra support to surmount the challenges. Student Affairs’ wellness initiative, “You’ve Got This,” brings awareness to all health and wellness resources across campus, encourages students to take ownership of their personal well-being, and, when appropriate, to normalize, not medicalize, everyday difficulties.
LMU also contributes to guardianship of our planet:
- We are once again the National Champs for Recyclemania! We swept the 2019 tournament, winning the Per Capita Division and the main event Grand Champion Diversion Division. No university has ever done this.
- LMU CURes partnered with Southern California Edison and the nonprofit Gottlieb Foundation to create a 60-foot-high Osprey nesting pole. The site coheres with Ballona Wetlands ecology recovery while offering valuable research opportunities for our students.
- Last week, the Alliance for Women Philanthropists hosted “Climate Change: Thinking Globally. Acting Locally.”
PROUDLY PROCLAIMING OUR IDENTITY
Our mission makes everything possible. With gratitude for our community’s collaboration and participation, I share that Father General Arturo Sosa, S.J., officially reaffirmed LMU’s Catholic and Jesuit identity in a letter that represents the formal conclusion of the Mission Priority Examen process begun in 2017. This affirmation also, of course, sets us to approach the issues that the process identified for improvement.
Our new visual identity is debuting on our three campuses, and it is already unifying our story, with examples like the launch at LMU Loyola Law School. All seven schools and colleges are now aligned with our brand position. Also aligned: Gersten Pavilion. As our roar soars, we will honor Hank Gathers’ legacy in spring 2020 by inaugurating a statue of him in front of Gersten. I look forward to seeing a packed pavilion when we cheer on our teams over the coming season.
Part of lionizing athletics involves re-invigorating our athletics facilities to give our student athletes and our fans an outstanding experience and to renew the ferocity of our pride as Lions. To this end, we have applied to amend our Master Plan with L.A. city, and we are engaging our neighbors and community leaders to garner support. I ask for your support throughout this process.
With University Advancement’s guidance, we will inspire our entire LMU community, and beyond, to play a meaningful role in our comprehensive campaign and realize our collective vision of creating the world we want to live in. We have much to accomplish this coming year, and even more in the years to come. Our extraordinary faculty, our inspiring rankings, our record-breaking first-year class, and our rising renown require that our LMU family grows as we seek to realize our vision.
Together, we will build upon our efforts to ensure that the world knows who we are, and of what we are capable. Thank you for your scholarship and creativity, for your compassion and curiosity, and for your dedication to advancing our mission.