Toward a More Inclusive LMU

Message from the President
April 26, 2016

Dear LMU Community:

As we move swiftly toward the end of our academic year, I offer this update to highlight our diversity and inclusion efforts, inspired by our continuing dialogue to improve our campus climate. I am encouraged by the emerging partnerships formed among students, faculty, academic leaders, student development professionals, and staff to respond to incidents throughout the year, and more importantly, to promote candid dialogue and constructive progress toward achieving inclusivity for all.

We can do better. Progress requires action; to date, we have taken the following steps:

·         Abbie Robinson-Armstrong, vice president for intercultural affairs, is creating an implicit bias training program for all students, faculty, and staff, and we will roll it out next fall following appropriate conversations with campus constituents;

·         Our senior vice presidents and deans will work within their divisions and colleges/schools to consider and recommend improvements to campus climate within their areas and university-wide;

·         LMU Cares, our nationally recognized program for fostering healthy relationships, will be expanded next fall to include a new component on inclusion, respect, and community with input from students, faculty, and staff;

·         Our Provost Search Committee will ensure that all candidates demonstrate an understanding of the cultural and educational needs of all LMU students throughout the search and hiring process, reflecting our broader efforts to hire faculty, administrators, and staff who reflect our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and our Catholic, Jesuit, and Marymount mission;

·         We are actively increasing our scholarship matching programs for African-American and Latino/a students in collaboration with our African-American and Latino Alumni Associations;

·         Provost Hellige and our enrollment management team are working to ensure we continue recruiting a talented pool of applicants from underrepresented groups, while doing everything possible to bring them into our community;

·         Loyola Law School has appointed an Equity and Inclusion Task Force, which, among other mandates, will advance community training programs and address incidents when the dignity of community members is threatened or compromised;

·         Student Affairs is working with Facilities Management to create additional all-gender restrooms by fall 2016;

·         We will expand our support for our DACA students by developing a user-friendly list of internal resources with the aim of increasing transparency and embracing some of the most vulnerable members of our community;

·         Our senior leadership team and I are committed to ongoing dialogue with our underrepresented student groups, continuing the many conversations from which we have benefited this year. Tonight’s town hall with our African-American students and me is one such example.

Please note that these actions are additions to an already-strong support system, which includes: the Office of Intercultural Affairs, Campus Ministry, LGBT Student Services, and Ethnic and Intercultural Services, which includes Asian Pacific Student Services, Black Student Services, Chicano/a and Latino/a Student Services, Jewish Student Life, and Intercultural Advancement, and our many programs that seek to support students from underrepresented groups, such as TLC, ACE, and First-to-Go. Of course, while we have made progress, the restless energy of the magis propels us to engage these issues in new and proactively positive ways.

I applaud our students for their active engagement and response to events and incidents on the national stage and within our community this year. They rallied to support the students at the University of Missouri and other institutions plagued by racial discrimination last semester. They leveraged their creativity to replace an offensive mural image with one that expresses unity and hope. Our African-American student leaders have developed a list of shared goals, demonstrating their dedication to improving our campus climate. Our Latino/a student leaders responded with unity to the vandalism of the immigration wall and are developing their own set of goals. Our LGBTQ+ students stood together in solidarity to ensure their voices are heard, and they are working closely with the administration to provide continued education and awareness about the issues impacting this community.

I am proud to be your president. This dialogue and struggle to develop a campus that embraces all persons encourages and enlivens me. I am reminded of the example provided by our dear friend and LMU alumnus Greg Boyle, S.J., when he speaks movingly about “widening the circle of compassion.” This summer, I challenge each of us to imagine LMU as a circle, and then imagine no one standing outside it. Whatever our personal identities, our respect and care for one another must always win out.

With sincere appreciation and thanks,

Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.