- September 20, 2012
- 10:36 am
- Akanksha Jayanthi
Faculty gathers; kicks off year
Themes of scholarly success, sustainability, and prospects for the future resonated throughout Mundelein Center on Sunday, September 9 at the Sixth Annual Faculty Convocation, which drew a crowd of nearly 350 people.
The convocation is held in the fall to celebrate the official start of the academic year and to welcome, honor, and recognize the Loyola faculty, past and present.
“It’s an important academic ritual that brings faculty together as members of a distinctive community—a community of scholars,” says John Pelissero, PhD, provost.
This year, 90 new faculty members join the Loyola community, pushing the student faculty ratio down to about 14:1. Pelissero and Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., president and CEO of Loyola, also used this time to address the faculty about future goals and academic plans.
Pelissero first acknowledged the advancements of the past year. He said the retention rate rose to 87 percent and on-time graduation rose to 60 percent. He also mentioned the increased strength and diversity at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The average ACT score for incoming freshmen is at an all-time high. The percentages of non-Caucasian and out-of-state students have increased, and there are about 100 international students. Additionally, for the first time ever, less than half of the freshmen class is Catholic.
Father Garanzini said this growth is also extended to the improving facilities and resources in each school.
“These changes show that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift from a teaching-centered to a learning-centered environment in our classrooms and programs,” said Father Garanzini.
Pelissero also highlighted the academic success of the faculty. The number of grant proposals submitted by Loyola faculty increased by 23 percent, and the number of grants awarded increased by 12 percent, he said.
In the midst of what Pelissero called “the changing landscape of higher education,” he and Father Garanzini said they issued a task force last year on “Positioning Loyola for the Future” to assess the University on questions such as affordability and quality. Father Garanzini and Pelissero said sustainability and internationalization are key areas where the University can focus its development.
Loyola has already adopted sustainability as a top priority and has taken strides to acknowledge this concern with additions such as the Retreat and Ecology Campus and the new Office of Sustainability. Father Garanzini mentioned how Jesuit institutions worldwide are introducing ecological issues into their missions, as they see it as a form of social justice.
“A commitment to ecology and the environment is an expansion and undergirding of an ongoing commitment to protecting and caring for all forms of life at the margins,” he said.
Father Garanzini said internationalization is also part of the Ignatian tradition.
“A Jesuit education has always been one in which a student gains an appreciation and a comfort with those who are different in language, race, and creed so that the student can feel ‘the whole world becoming our house,’” said Father Garanzini, quoting an early Jesuit father.
Pelissero says that the faculty plays a vital role in transforming all areas of the University.
“With the faculty’s help, Loyola is responding to the challenge by focusing on what makes us distinctive as an institution and what will keep us competitive for the long term,” he says.
After discussions about the future of Loyola subsided, the award for Faculty Member of the Year was presented to Pamela L. Caughie, PhD, professor of English. After recalling how she has spent her Saturdays over the past few years, she thanked Loyola and its faculty for “making it possible for me to stand here today and say with all sincerity, I love what I do.”
Pelissero says that Caughie’s remarks echo true to the spirit of the University.
“That devotion to students is part of what makes the Loyola experience so distinctive and is what will continue to distinguish us,” he says.
For those who could not attend the convocation, click here for remarks by Father Garanzini, John Pelissero, and Pamela Caughie. A PDF of the 2012 program book is also available on the site.