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Loyola Marymount University
President David W. Burcham
Speeches and Letters
> Annual President's Message 2010
Annual President's Message 2010
Dear LMU Community, Alumni and Friends:
This is a special time of year. The students have returned, and our beautiful campus is full of purpose again. This year is also a special one for Loyola Marymount University because May 2011 marks the beginning of our centennial.
LMU has seen amazing change and growth during its first 100 years, and we look forward to the next 100 years. To be sure, there will be changes in higher education that we cannot even imagine, but there are constants, too. At commencement this spring, we will celebrate a century of commitment to our mission and to our Catholic intellectual tradition, and each will be celebrated 100 springs from now.
The foundation for the next century was built by our predecessors. One person in particular who deserves our thanks is Robert B. Lawton, S.J., LMU's president from 1999-2010. Father Lawton's wisdom and character sustained a decade of achievement, and we are deeply grateful.
During our centennial, we will recall the past and look to the future. In the coming months, we will focus on the present, building upon our academic strengths and our commitment to others. In doing so, we prepare for our second 100 years by highlighting our Jesuit and Marymount educational traditions.
The academic core of our university is strong, and that ultimately is what students seek and why they come here. The 2010 freshman class is the most qualified in LMU history with a record-setting average SAT score, topping 1200 for the first time, and a 3.7 GPA.
Our student body is extraordinarily diverse, reflecting the population of the country and the world, which adds to the value of their education. The powerhouse Education Trust just named LMU as one of 11 private universities nationwide that are the most successful in admitting and graduating African-American and Hispanic students. We are justly proud of this achievement.
We offer an intimate education, and part of our success is built on an average class size of 15 in the graduate school and 20 for undergraduates. We have an extraordinary student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1, which means every student has the opportunity for mentoring and personal interaction with faculty. The 2011 Princeton Review - "The Best 373 Colleges" - validates this, placing LMU in the top 20 nationwide for "Most Accessible Professors," and it also gives us 94 out of 99 for "quality of life."
These achievements are built upon our faculty, which is an incredible resource. LMU has excellent professors, and we insist they leverage the low faculty-student ratio by teaching in new ways. This ratio was built consciously - we have more than 500 full-time faculty - and we use it to our students' advantage. At the same time, we support our faculty's productivity in research and publications, and the pursuit of their own creative works. We nurture all these multidimensional goals because it grows LMU's reputation and it is synergistic with teaching.
But the context in which we carry out our academic mission is what makes us truly unique - and that is the education of the whole person. At its heart, the LMU mission and our Catholic intellectual tradition rest on the premise that the best education - the one that sustains you for a lifetime - combines academic, social and spiritual pursuits. While knowledge brings us together, our mission and our Catholic teachings have a privileged place at LMU. We strive to integrate them, and our dedication to this matches our dedication to scholarship.
We see this integration best when our students step out into the world, near or far, even before they graduate. LMU has an organized Alternative Breaks, as well as other programs that put our students face to face with people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. And our students volunteer more than 170,000 service hours a year through 350 community organizations. This approach is meant to inspire a lifelong passion for social justice, and it does.
There are scores of examples. Eddie Roohan, who graduated this year, traveled to Cambodia as part of our Center for Service and Action program. While there, he worked with a local man to co-found the Bridge to Life School, the village's only school. Eddie donated his savings and hundreds of hours and, today, the school offers classes to 60 children. Avery Bean, another 2010 graduate, found a need down the street where Westchester High School's maintenance was lagging, so she organized 150 students and community volunteers to paint, pick up litter and plant landscaping to create a better educational environment.
Why does LMU do this? Because this is who we are and we reinforce our mission every step along the way. Doing so is not confined to Campus Ministry, nor are the religious orders the only guardians of the mission. It is the business of every person at this university every single day.
Of course, being the best requires resources. We are fiscally strong, having steered a conservative course through jarring economic times. Our resources are focused on academics and the success of our students. The purpose of all our fiscal planning and our fundraising is to carry out our mission.
As we start the new academic year, we are recommitted to the fundamentals of teaching, mentoring and advising students. That means educating them as complete individuals, as ethical and spiritual people, as well as scholars.
I look forward to meeting many of you during the year. Come to the campus. Visit the new William H. Hannon Library and participate in the great things going on. And most importantly, meet our students and faculty. They give our university life. They are the reason we are here.
David W. Burcham
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