>> Webcast: View the recorded webcast of the speech here.
President David W. Burcham addressed the Loyola Marymount University community on Thursday, Oct. 14, in an honored tradition that marks the beginning of the academic year.
The newly appointed president and 20-year member of the LMU community -- as a Loyola Law School student, as both faculty member and administrator at the law school, then as LMU provost -- said he was humbled by the opportunity to now stand before the community as its president. "I will work as hard as I know how for you and for our university," he said.
Change was the theme throughout Burcham’s speech as he addressed the various transitions taking place in a university approaching its centennial year, including his appointment as president. “For the first time in our history, someone who is not a Jesuit is leading LMU,” he said, adding that nine of the 28 Jesuit universities currently have non-Jesuits presidents. “So we are not the only institution adjusting to change, but adjust we will.” The president thanked the religious community for its courage and willingness to embrace change and to partner with him in advancing the mission of the university.
“That is my goal because, first and foremost, I love LMU,” Burcham said. “As a law student many years ago, this university’s mission … instilled in me the desire to work for others. It also gave me a deep appreciation for the way LMU seeks academic excellence for both students and faculty.”
The president acknowledged the challenges the university faces over the next several years, foremost the budget. “I am happy to say that we are fiscally strong. We’ve been steering a conservative course through these rocky economic times and that course has served us well,” he said. While the university will continue to reduce expenses, the president said it will continue to focus its spending priorities on academics, including faculty hiring, new and enhanced academic programs, and recruiting the best students.
Burcham spoke about LMU’s 20-year Master Plan, which is expected to be approved and in place by the end of the academic year and will begin with construction of a new life sciences building. “This new building we have planned represents the kind of infrastructure upgrade we need to stay competitive and to meet the needs of our students,” he said. “But it’s important to understand that over the next 10 years, we must shift much of our fundraising priorities from buildings to people,” he said, explaining the need to expand LMU’s donor base to help fund new initiatives while keeping tuition increases to a minimum.
The president also stressed his commitment to advancing LMU’s mission as a Jesuit university. “I believe we must increase the number of religious on our campus and especially in our classrooms,” he said. “I will be working with others in a concerted effort to recruit and hire more Jesuits and women religious who can contribute to our educational mission.”
Burcham encouraged the community to challenge itself as it prepares for the next hundred years and to seize the opportunity to use its collective talents and imagination to push LMU into greatness. "We have the Jesuit and Marymount traditions and a magnificent history to guide us as we unite behind our common purpose," he said. "I pledge to you that I will work tirelessly to improve our university and to work with each of you constructively. Please join me in this endeavor."