On Wednesday, January 29, Loyolans crowded into the Crown Center Auditorium to hear Father Garanzini discuss the State of the University. Diverting from the standard structure of his past addresses, Father Garanzini took to the podium and fielded questions from the audience to begin, saying that he wanted to create a mixture of a report and a town hall meeting.
Students in attendance raised several issues, ranging from crime and diversity to services for Loyola’s undocumented population and student veterans.
Father Garanzini contended that the Department of Campus Safety takes decisive steps to keep students safe, like mapping out “dark spots,” or areas that should be avoided at night around campus, in addition to regular patrols and e-mail alerts that keep students aware.
“I wish we could do better in racial diversity,” he said in response to a question about the hiring of a chief diversity officer. “That’s something we are still working on.”
He also mentioned that plans are in place for a veteran student office and spoke of the Stritch School of Medicine’s admission of undocumented immigrants, saying that he hopes Loyola will be a “national trendsetter” for its policy.
Stritch announced in June that it would accept undocumented students into its program, making it the first medical school in the nation to do so. Alums and trustees are raising money for students who don’t have access to federal funds, he said.
When asked about a recent Loyola Phoenix opinion piece detailing why one recent grad won’t be giving back to the University right away, Father Garanzini mentioned that the alum “didn’t tell the whole story,” and that he plans to meet with him in the future about his concerns.
“We are going to continue to appeal to our alums—especially to those who we gave tuition remission to,” he said. “When you’re ready, when you’re able, please help us here at Loyola [help] people like you.”
After taking questions, Father Garanzini went on to discuss the success of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES) and emphasized the University’s serious commitment to sustainability. The academic programs within the IES have grown substantially—a step in the right direction, he said, in answering the question, “How are we going to sustain this planet?”
He also mentioned the opening of the Arnold J. Damen Student Center and the renovations in Mundelein Center for the Fine and Performing Arts before addressing athletics.
After recognizing the talent of many student athletes, Father mentioned that he hopes joining the Missouri Valley Conference will attract students and provide them with a “real college experience in collegiate athletics.”
Father then went on to discuss a new strategic plan for the University that he hopes will focus less on building and raising money, and more on implementing social justice and a transformative education. He went on to say the University wants to move toward social justice in all areas, from research agendas to curriculum development and create more “young men and women who will go out and change the world for the better.”
Father also shared that the University is financially stable and he explained that the tuition increases are meant to offset the “cost of living” raises for faculty and staff. Enrollment is up three percent and also increasing is the quality of admitted students, he said.
The audience learned that renovations to the Halas Recreation Center are scheduled for completion in July, the new Quinlan School of Business facility is slated to open next year at the Water Tower Campus (the building is currently being erected and will be named Schreiber Hall), and the University has plans to expand its programming in engineering at the graduate and undergraduate levels.
“There are a number of students here for science,” he said. “There should be a few more options in the sciences than simply everybody going in to be a doctor.”
Father Garanzini then opened the floor one more time to questions, and he was asked what he worries about most and what motivates him.
“I’m most worried about the cost for undergraduates,” the president said.
However, what energizes him is a potential solution to this growing problem among low income and minority students, which he promised to share more details about at a later time.
In his closing statement, Father Garanzini told the audience to stay warm and playfully alluded to the criticism of keeping the University open during the second wave of sub-zero temperatures this week. He said it is the responsibility of the Provost to cancel class and Tom Kelly, the senior vice president for administrative services and chief human resources officer, to close the University.
“I was stranded out of town,” he said as the audience laughed, “I would have helped you out!”