Message from the President
October 14, 2016
Dear LMU Community:
I look forward to sharing my convocation address with you next Tuesday, Oct. 18. In the spirit of the magis, I titled my speech “Out-of-Body Experience,” so we may further explore our inclusivity, our creativity, and the distinctive foundations of our Catholic, Jesuit, and Marymount educational philosophy. I will interconnect our accomplishments with our global-imagination ambitions as I challenge our community to pursue a shared vision for LMU’s future.
We are partway through a productive 2016-17 academic year, and our campus is abuzz with activity as our faculty, with grace and passion, guide and inspire our students in their intellectual and creative endeavors. Our talented faculty, student development professionals, and campus ministers continue to forge our institution’s path forward, and their drive toward academic excellence and personal transformation is noticeable in each student I encounter. The Wall Street Journal recently published its inaugural rankings and listed LMU among the top 10 percent of higher education institutions nationally—and the 4th-ranked (and first, in the west) among the nation’s 28 Jesuit institutions. While we welcome the public recognition, we also realize that our many prestigious rankings do not make an extraordinary university; you do.
In anticipation of our convocation, I share updates and highlight some efforts underway to advance our community:
- Our academic programs continue to explore interdisciplinarity. Examples of our faculty’s outstanding achievements are too numerous to capture here, but recent works by these selected areas provide a glimpse of our impact when academic disciplines interweave: the World Policy Institute, the Academy for Catholic Thought and Imagination, CURes, CMAST, and the Documentary Lab. These areas, among many others, showcase global imagination.
- Our first-year class is the most accomplished and diverse in LMU’s history. Emerging from our largest and strongest applicant pool ever, the Class of 2020 is record setting: we received more than 13,400 applications from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 100 countries. The average SAT scores rose an impressive 21 points from the previous year to 1244.
- Loyola Law School welcomed another stellar incoming class. We were more selective with the students we admitted and still increased yield and enrollment, reflecting LLS’s recent successes, including its significant improvement in national rankings, its graduate placement rates, its nationally renowned evening program, and its unparalleled reputation for preparing lawyers for justice-laden practice.
- We continue to pursue a significant LMU presence in Playa Vista/Silicon Beach. To ensure that all logistical and financial decisions address the relevant academic processes and priorities, Senior Vice President Lynne Scarboro and recently appointed Special Assistant to the Provost John Parrish are coordinating communications among our colleges, schools, and operational units.
- Our community coalesced in solidarity at last month’s Mass of the Holy Spirit, when an impactful homily inspired the large congregation and linked the diversity of our campus with the diversity of our broader civic community. On Feb. 22, 2017, Stephen Privett, S.J., past president and current chancellor of the University of San Francisco, will visit our campus and speak about diversity, the common good, and Catholic social teaching. Mission and Ministry will provide further details.
- I continue to engage our underrepresented students’ representatives as we make progress on our shared goals. We setup a websiteto encourage engagement and increase transparency as we move forward together.
- Intercultural Affairs, along with psychology faculty, is spearheading efforts to uncover and examine our implicit bias, conscious and unconscious, and has launched a training program for students, faculty, and staff. Our senior leadership team participated in a summer workshop on implicit bias, and we are committed to recognizing and addressing the individual and systemic biases these processes reveal.
- Student Affairs has made significant progress in several areas, including: (1) expanding LMU CARES, our nationally recognized program for fostering healthy relationships, by adding an inclusion-respect-community component; (2) including ethnic, cultural, religious, and LGBTQ+ topics in LMU CARES’ Courageous Conversations, mandatory training for all incoming students; (3) relocating departments to promote greater interactions among student groups after completing an audit to evaluate the effectiveness of its diversity programs; (4) moving forward with plans to construct all-gender bathrooms in the Malone Student Center to serve all our students.
- University Relations exceeded our fundraising goals, bringing in over $43 million in gifts and pledges last year. We also exceeded our targets for the Scholarship Initiative, with over $94 million to date and an anticipated completion by the end of the calendar year. We have formed a comprehensive Campaign Planning Council, chaired by Mitchell R. Butier ’93, CEO of Avery Dennison, to begin planning our next comprehensive campaign.
- Search committees are currently engaged in filling two vital positions that will become vacant at the end of academic year. The positive impacts of Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Hellige and Vice President Robert Caro, S.J., will be known by our institution for many years to come. The search processes for their successors are rigorous and comprehensive. Thank you for your continued engagement and support of our search committees. And, thanks to Dean Tina Choe, Faculty Senate President and Associate Professor Elizabeth Drummond, and Associate Professor José Badenes, S.J., for leading these searches.
- In August, we established Harriet Tubman Press, a publishing imprint of TSEHAI Publishers in the Marymount Institute for Faith, Culture and the Arts. Harriet Tubman Press is one of the few university-related imprints devoted to African-American scholars and writers. The first volume, “Voices of Leimert Park,” will be launched in December.
- Marketing and Communications is making progress as we expand our visibility, evolve and position LMU’s brand, and increase our reputational capital. Our University of Silicon Beach™ and LMYOU campaigns, among others, are first steps to ensuring we are no longer the “best kept secret on the bluff.” In the near future, I will share additional updates on our Brand Development Initiative.
LMU is a place of academic excellence where conversations of consequence happen, where the service of faith and promotion of justice is (yes, is—the two, at LMU, are indelibly bonded!) always at the forefront of our hearts and minds, and where our spiritual resources are mobilized to make a difference in the global community. With a sense of joy and purpose, we continue to bring about a better world. In preparation for next week’s convocation, I invite you to reflect on what you most appreciate about LMU and which aspects of our shared vision ignite your passions. I look forward to our time together this coming Tuesday!
With continued appreciation and thanks,
Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.