Marching Forward: Students
I hope your spring break energized you for the home stretch to this year’s finish line. The completion of spring semester is in our midst, and we have much to look forward to as we anticipate our return to our campuses for in-person instruction and co-curricular experiences in the fall. While improving conditions will continue to depend upon a continued downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases in L.A. County and continuing vaccination successes in the coming months, our detailed planning for reopening has rendered hope and clarity for our near future.
Restoring Our Budget, Rebuilding Our Community
LMU’s Board of Trustees has approved the FY 2021-22 budget. Amidst the challenges of the past year, LMU’s financial outlook is strong. After overcoming more than $50 million in revenue shortfalls, we approach the next fiscal and academic years with confidence because the demand for an LMU education is stronger than ever. Our $560 million FY 2021-22 operating budget prioritizes: financial aid for students, minimizing tuition increases, welcoming back furloughed employees, and restoring annual merit increases and retirement contributions for university employees. Our budget will also enable campus upgrades that will make our return safer and healthier while investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
Though the hard costs associated with delivering our student-centered education have continued to rise, our ambitious cost-containment efforts over the past year will result in a historically low tuition increase of 0.94 percent for undergraduates. We will post additional information about next year’s tuition and fees to our Student Financial Services website by March 31, 2021. Please note that these numbers do not reflect the net price of tuition, which is often lower after accounting for student financial aid packages that are determined for each student on a case-by-case basis.
Phased Reopenings Progress
As we prepare to reopen our campuses safely and responsibly in the fall semester, we continue to advocate for the sensible easing of campus restrictions with our elected officials and public health authorities. Our efforts are bearing fruit: much of the recent progress and easing resulted from LMU and higher education working with L.A. County Public Health to modify guidelines. In our February 25 community advisory, we shared how these modifications impact LMU and campus access.
Students may now register for designated time blocks to enjoy outdoor recreation space on the bluff in a limited capacity, by appointment. On March 15, the William H. Hannon Library will also be available by appointment—you may reserve your spot here.
You may learn more about LMU’s phased campus reopening here.
Honoring Our Class of 2021
Last month Provost Poon shared that we will host the 109th Commencement exercises virtually at their scheduled dates: Saturday, May 8, 2021, for undergraduates; Sunday, May 9, 2021, for graduate students; and Sunday, May 16, for LMU Loyola Law School. Regrettably, current and expected public health restrictions will not allow us to host large gatherings by May. However, we have convened focus groups of student representatives from the Class of 2021 to hear their preferences concerning a variety of commencement scenarios, based on what L.A. County public health officials are allowing. We look forward to working together to honor the Class of 2021’s landmark achievements.
As families prepare for this auspicious occasion, we are planning to invite graduates to campus this spring before commencement for photo opportunities. We will share more details in the coming weeks.
Vaccinations: For and With Others
LMU is scheduled to receive its first 100 vaccine doses this week. Because of the limited number of vaccines, we are prioritizing our essential workers such as custodians, food services employees, public safety officers, faculty who teach in person, and LMU LLS faculty who run clinics. Eligible community members have been notified.
In collaboration with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, LMU has also been approved to offer COVID-19 vaccines to underserved K-12 Catholic school teachers. We are pleased to provide this service to archdiocesan teachers and educational personnel throughout the region to facilitate their return to the classroom. Please note, these vaccine doses are provided to the Archdiocese and are earmarked specifically for K-12 school educators; they are not available for distribution to our wider community.
Meanwhile, the county is still experiencing vaccine shortages and allocating limited doses to the most undervaccinated ZIP codes that are still experiencing COVID-19 surges. We are continuing to advocate on a daily basis with county and public health leaders for allocation of more vaccines to our university. When the county confirms that more vaccines are en route, we will immediately notify faculty and staff and open the LMU Vaccination Clinic to these individuals. This noted, I encourage all who are eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible by making arrangements through the county’s other vaccination centers or through individuals’ health care providers. In L.A. County, anyone employed by LMU qualifies under Phase 1B to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at this time. Please register for an appointment here. Please be mindful of our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors: getting vaccinated is how we protect our community and demonstrate we are people for and with others.
Commitment to Transparency
We know you have questions aplenty, and my updates will generate more. Our town halls are an opportunity for the community to share thoughts, questions, and concerns. Provost Poon will host a virtual town hall for students on Friday, March 19, from noon to 1:15 p.m. Please visit our town hall website for the latest updates, schedule, and viewing of next Friday’s town hall. For questions and comments that may arise after the town hall, a form will be available at the provost’s website.
Also, my presidential video briefings provide opportunities to share updates. You may submit comments, questions, and feedback for topics we may cover in my updates, LMU This Week, or in future town halls.
Lions, you have fortified LMU with your passion and purpose. With pride, wonder, and bountiful gratitude, I thank you for exemplifying our mission in everything you do.
For and with you, I remain eternally grateful. Go Lions!
Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.