Spring 2018 Welcome Back

Message from the President
January 12, 2018

Dear LMU Students:

Happy New Year, Lions! As we begin the spring semester, I welcome you back to campus by sharing observations, by highlighting engagement opportunities, and by reaffirming our mission and values. Our community thanks you for continuing to share your talents and ambitions with the LMU family. 

We have many reasons to celebrate our individual and collective accomplishments from the fall semester, and St. Ignatius’ magis reminds us that we always benefit when we seek to be our most intellectually rigorous, our most creative, and our most compassionate. In that spirit, two developments last semester deserve our attention:

  • I applaud our students for making their voices heard through #BlackatLMU and other avenues of expression. We hear you and are committed to working together to address experiences that run counter to our mission and values.
  • The Snapchat post that was circulated in social media late last semester was reprehensible and hurtful. The sentiments expressed represent neither the LMU community nor our values. We are investigating this matter as we strive to understand what occurred and how we can support responsible and civil dialogue.

Our commitment to social justice requires us to identify causes, examine motivations, and act productively. Our university leadership, notably Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Lane Bove and Vice President for Intercultural Affairs Abbie Robinson-Armstrong, will continue engaging you on these matters so we may learn, improve, and address issues that surface. We will report our progress publicly on our Inclusive Excellence website.

I learn from our students all the time—from your steadfast support of our Dreamers to the way you have stood in solidarity through the challenges that come our way. I thank ASLMU and our other student groups for leading conversations that inspire our community to think more thoughtfully about the impact of our speech. Civil discourse is fundamental for a university to thrive, and we will continue to have conversations—at times uncomfortable ones—but we will learn from each other.  

Our 2018 on-campus activities are replete with opportunities to work together to foster empathy and expand our minds. The following are noteworthy events in which I hope you will participate. 

  • On Jan. 18, Campus Ministry and Black Student Services will host an annual prayer breakfast, celebrating the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • On Feb. 13, Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts will host “A Day of Kinship with Rev. Greg Boyle, S.J.” Father Boyle will discuss his new book, “Barking to the Choir,” which reminds us that even the smallest acts, when bolstered by unconditional love and kindness, have the power to change the world.
  • On March 22, the 2018 Mary Milligan Lecture will feature Professor Kristy Nabhan-Warren’s “Américan Woman: The Virgin of Guadalupe and Maternal Warrior Accompaniment of Her Latino/a Children.” Our Lady of Guadalupe is a symbol of female empowerment and Mexican identity. Her iconic image and enduring humanity inspire us to protect and care for society’s most vulnerable.
  • On March 23-24, I encourage you to participate in the 10th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. This is a terrific opportunity for students to develop and present research and creative works to the LMU community. The application deadline is Feb. 9. Last year, submissions from two of our political science students, Candace Yamanishi (“Achieving Diversity in the Los Angeles Unified School District”) and Nadine Iskandar (“The Ethical Dimensions of Western Counter-Terrorism Approaches that Feature Muslim Women”), were selected to present at the 2017 National Conference for Undergraduate Research.
  • On April 10, in commemoration of Mission Day, the Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination and Mission and Ministry will sponsor a town hall discussion on the mission pillars and priorities of LMU, including our commitment to addressing social justice issues. 

I hope that these and other upcoming events open our hearts and allow for moments of reflection. We must self-examine. We must acknowledge our biases, our privilege, and normative social influences. We must learn more about ourselves and be willing and open to change. Leading the way, Intercultural Affairs, in partnership with Campus Ministry, Human Resources, and Student Affairs, are improving our understanding of implicit bias and using that knowledge to produce change in cultural norms across the university. We will continue to engage this initiative with workshops for students, faculty, and staff. As lifelong learners, we welcome difficult yet illuminating conversations that transform and enrich our lives.

We also must persistently seek and engage in truth. We live in a time where the idea of truth is often attacked, and incomplete information may lead to misjudgments and mutual recriminations. Electronic communication and social media enable opinions and rumors to proliferate rapidly, while the patient, diligent practices of discovery and verification, which are required for thoughtful deliberation, are often scarce. Our passion for promoting a just and inclusive world must harmonize with our commitment to discernment and mutual understanding. We know that in the end, these are complementary, not contradictory values. 

On Monday, we observe the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Nearly 50 years after his assassination, his words, his actions, and his resolve continue to resonate and inspire, rousing us to do better. At LMU, we educate with purpose as we aspire to be persons for and with others. Like Dr. King, we celebrate, honor, and cherish diversity, inclusivity, and justice rooted in the belief that we are all sacred children of God. 

Our foundational values are immutable. I invite you to review my prior messages in which I discuss our distinctive mission and identity: who we have been, who we are, and who we strive to be. No matter what the circumstance or issue of a given day, these foundational values remain. 

We all belong at LMU—your gifts, your truths, and your love embolden our campus community. As I wish you many successes this year, I hope that your creations are interleaved with inspiration, imagination, and empathy. Together, we are Lion Strong!

With sincere appreciation and thanks,

Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.