Former President of Mexico Addresses Class of 2009
Vicente Fox and L.A. Schools Superintendent Speak at LMU Commencements Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, hoists his honorary degree at LMU’s undergraduate commencement in May as Provost David Burcham looks on. In his address, Fox told the class of 2009 they have a responsibility to the community and the world.
Former Mexico President Vicente Fox accepted an honorary doctorate and addressed more than 1,300 graduates, their family members and friends at Loyola Marymount University’s 2009 undergraduate commencement ceremony, May 9. Fox was president of Mexico from 2000–06 and is now president of the Centro Fox, a presidential library and museum established in 2007 that focuses on humanitarian work.
Fox described the class of 2009 as being blessed with the opportunities that come from attending LMU. “Not many young people have the opportunity to be in an outstanding institution like this,” he said. “In Latin America, only 22 out of 100 have the opportunity to sit in a university. Seventy-eight percent don’t have this gifted opportunity that you have received to be here for four years.
“But you also have given hard work, sacrifice and effort every day, pursuing your dream ... your commencement dream.”
Fox said “reshaping the world is an urgent need.” He reminded graduates that doing for others, the community and the world is their responsibility.
“Times are difficult,” he said. “This is the moment when leaders come ... when you have to show the way ... when you have to instruct and inspire your followers.
“Leaders have to have that inner force, the power within that we all were created with. We are all leaders. Let’s not forget that.”
Fox said he considered it a gift to witness LMU’s commencement and that he had no doubt the class of 2009 had the “spirit and commitment” to accomplish great things.
The Ignatian Award and Marian Award, which are presented to a male and female graduate, respectively, who have demonstrated academic achievement, leadership and service to the community, went to philosophy major Brock Seraphin and political science major Jenna B. Gammie.
When Ramon C. Cortines, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, addressed candidates for the master’s and doctoral degrees the next day, he urged them to grapple with the issues facing society.
“Draw on your experiences here to improve the quality of life, for yourself and others,” he said.
Emphasizing the need to be optimistic in the face of serious challenges, Cortines said, “There is always a great future for those with imaginative, well-prepared minds [and who are] generous and with open hearts.”
Cortines was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters during the ceremony. He has been superintendent of schools in Pasadena, Calif., San Jose, Calif., and San Francisco, as well as chancellor of the New York City public school system. In the administration of President Bill Clinton, he was assistant secretary in the Department of Education. He has also taught sixth grade and high school.
International Scholar to Lead Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts
Scholar and author Paul Tiyambe Zeleza was named dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts at Loyola Marymount University this past May. He will join the university Aug. 1.
Zeleza has been professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Previously, he was a professor at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has worked as a consultant for the Ford and MacArthur foundations and as an adviser to the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
“The breadth of Dr. Zeleza’s scholarship and interests, together with the energy of the Bellarmine College faculty and leadership, will make the years ahead exciting ones,” said Robert B. Lawton, S.J., LMU president. “He will be able to build upon an already strong college to face the challenges of modern higher education.”
Zeleza’s academic work ranges from history and economics to human rights and gender studies. He has authored or edited more than two dozen books and was awarded the prestigious Noma Award in 1994 for his book “A Modern Economic History of Africa.” He also edits The Zeleza Post (www.zeleza.com), an online source of news and commentary on the Pan-African world.
Zeleza was chosen after a nationwide search to replace Michael Engh, S.J., who left LMU to become president of Santa Clara University in 2009. Psychology Professor Michael O’Sullivan has served as interim dean.
Born in Zimbabwe, Zeleza was raised in Malawi, the native country of his parents. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Malawi and a master’s degree from the University of London, where he studied African history and international relations. He holds a Ph.D. in economic history from Dalhousie University in Halifax, New Brunswick, Canada.
Artist John August Swanson and His Work Featured at Conference
The art of John August Swanson, whose work hangs in the Vatican Museums’ Collection of Modern Religious Art, the Smithsonian Institution and London’s Tate Gallery, was the subject of a conference on campus in March that explored art and religion.
Titled “Theological Aesthetics and the Art of John August Swanson,” the conference focused on an emerging field of interdisciplinary scholarship known as theological aesthetics that joins art, religion, theology and spirituality. Scholars, including Alejandro Garcia-Rivera, of the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, and students Elizabeth Forrest ’10, Mary Setterholm ’09 and Sydney Swanson ’11 (no relation) offered presentations on several aspects of the artist’s work.
“A Catholic university, especially one in the Ignatian tradition like ours, has a vital role in bringing the community together to explore the true, the good and the beautiful,” said Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu ’80, ’01, assistant professor of theological studies, who organized the conference. “The experience of beauty and the intellectual inquiry of profound theological reflection go together.”
Swanson, born in 1938 to a Mexican mother and Swedish father, is known for a style that reflects Swedish folk art and the traditions of Mexican muralists, Russian iconographers and medieval miniaturists. His serigraphs depict themes of faith and justice and are characterized by his frequent use of biblical images. The painter spoke about his journey as an artist, starting in 1957 with his undergraduate experience at LMU, where he struggled academically as a pre-med student, to his discovery of protest art as a young artist and his involvement in faith-driven justice projects.
LMU Alumnus Returns As Campus Ministry Director
James Erps, S.J., a 1972 graduate of Loyola University and director of Campus Ministry at Boston College, was named director of Campus Ministry at Loyola Marymount University in February. Erps will begin work in August. He replaces Albert Koppes, O. Carm., associate chancellor, who has served as interim director since June 2008.
“Father Erps is a proven administrator who will bring a wealth of pastoral experience to his new position,” said Robert V. Caro, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry.
After his ordination to the priesthood, Erps served as campus minister and prefect of Sacred Heart Chapel from 1983–92. He later became director of Campus Ministry at Stanford University, as well as chaplain at Loyola Law School (1996–2000).
“It will be a real joy to return to my alma mater as director of Campus Ministry,” Erps said. “Campus Ministry played such an important role in my own growth and formation as an undergraduate. I look forward to helping our department support and inspire a new generation of LMU students in their personal development and journeys of faith.”
Debaters Win With Tournament’s First Perfect Score
LMU’s debate team of Kevin Kiley and Alexander Schwab, students in the Graduate
Division, earned a perfect score in each round and defeated all competitors at the Hobart and William Smith College Round Robin Tournament — the first time in the event’s three-year history that the feat had been achieved. Sixteen institutions, including Yale, Harvard and Oxford, competed in the April contest in Geneva, N.Y. “It is remarkable, among this company of the most prestigious international teams, to earn a perfect score,” said Barbara Busse, College of Communication and Fine Arts dean.