Loyola College in Maryland
Inauguration of Brian F. Linnane, S.J.
21 October 2005
Your Eminence, Cardinal Keeler…
Your Excellencies, Bishops Mitchell Rozanski and Denis Madden…
Trustees of the College…
Congressman Cardin, Attorney General Curran, Mayor O’Malley and Secretary Burnett…
Members of the faculty, administration and staff…
Students of the College…
Distinguished guests and friends of Loyola.
I am honored to stand before you this morning as the twenty-fourth president of Loyola College in Maryland. I am very grateful for the confidence and support of the College Trustees and of my Jesuit superiors as I begin the important work of leading this outstanding university. I am thankful, too, for the warm welcome that I have received from all quarters of the Loyola community and from the College’s many friends in the state of Maryland.
While you will have no doubt noticed that there is not a formal oath of office in this inauguration ceremony, I want to state clearly at the outset of my remarks that I wholeheartedly commit myself—with God’s assistance—to the distinctive mission of Loyola College as a Catholic university shaped by the spiritual traditions of both the Sisters of Mercy and the Society of Jesus. That is to say that I pledge myself to the task of ensuring that Loyola truly is a university—that privileged place of free inquiry and discourse—while remaining firmly rooted in the rich intellectual and religious heritage of Roman Catholicism. I am excited and energized by this task at Loyola College not only because it is such an important apostolic work of the Jesuit Order, but more fundamentally because I am convinced that my own experience of Jesuit undergraduate education at Boston College served to nurture and expand my own youthful intellectual and spiritual yearnings and so lead to religious and professional commitments that have been deeply satisfying and rewarding. I am therefore passionately committed to maintaining an educational environment at Loyola College that seeks to educate the whole person with a view toward helping each student discern a unique vocation that will be conducive to both personal happiness and social transformation.
On this day that celebrates the strength and vibrancy of this Catholic and Jesuit university, it is important for me to acknowledge and pay tribute to those whose dedication and leadership have been so instrumental in the success of Loyola College in Maryland. When I was elected president this past summer, I was delighted to learn that a project restoring the portraits of a number of the College’s presidents was coming to completion and would be unveiled at my inauguration. I hope that all of you will have a chance to view these portraits now on display in the Study on the top floor of Jenkins Hall. These portraits and their accompanying narratives provide us with a rich historical record of the faith-filled vision that allowed Loyola College to persevere and flourish despite some significant struggles. When I visited the Study this week, I was particularly struck by the portraits of my three most recent predecessors, Father Vincent Beatty, Father Joseph Sellinger, and Father Harold Ridley. These are the men who provided the leadership that transformed Loyola from a small day school for men into the nationally recognized, coeducational, comprehensive Catholic university we know today. Father Beatty assumed his office in July, 1955, only a few weeks before I was born and almost fifty years to the day before I started as president at Loyola. Father Beatty recognized the size constraints of the original Evergreen property and purchased the land for the first residence halls. A scientist himself, he arranged for state monies in the post-Sputnik era to construct Maryland Hall to house modern science facilities. Father Sellinger became president in 1964 and served until his death in April of 1993. It was during his tenure that Loyola first admitted women as undergraduates, constructed the first of its student residences, and entered into the agreement with our neighbor, the College of Notre Dame, to construct and share a new library. These two men live on in this community’s memory and their achievements are commemorated in Beatty Hall and in the Sellinger School of Business and Management.
I want to give special attention to the life and achievement of my good friend and immediate predecessor, Father Ridley. It is evident to anyone who knows the Loyola College community that Father Ridley’s sudden death on January 19th of this year was a trauma that we are only slowly recovering from. For many of our students, faculty, administrators, staff, alumni, and friends, Father’s passing was experienced as a profound personal loss. Not only were we confident that Loyola College was in good hands under Father Ridley’s leadership, we also knew that as individuals we were in good hands when we sought Hap’s guidance, encouragement, and friendship. Let’s be frank, Father Ridley set the highest personal and intellectual standards for his own life and work and he expected nothing less from each one of us. But far from being judgmental or unduly demanding, Father Ridley’s great love for this university and its members helped to bring out the very best in all of us. Perhaps the greatest testimony to this claim is the fact that the university stayed on course and, in fact, made dramatic progress in our current strategic plan, Great Resolves, Great Desires in the days and months following Father’s death. This reflects the extraordinary character of the women and men who worked most closely with Father Ridley and their dedication to his vision for Loyola as a Catholic and Jesuit university in the twenty-first century. Special thanks in this regard go to Dr. David Haddad, Academic Vice President of Loyola College. With his characteristic generosity and grace, Dr. Haddad responded to the challenge of serving as Interim President. No one who knows David was surprised that he provided the steady leadership and healing presence that was so necessary at that moment in the College’s history. While Dr. Haddad’s great eagerness to hand over the reigns of power after my election as president did make me wonder about what I had gotten myself into, I soon realized that this too was emblematic of the generosity and grace I have already mentioned. I am deeply grateful to David for his service as Interim President, for his outstanding work at Academic Vice President, and for his friendship. The entire Loyola College community is deeply in his debt.
Other examples of Father Ridley’s extraordinary legacy would include the way he transformed this campus and developed the graduate campuses in Timonium and Columbia. I am often reminded, when I drive onto campus from North Charles Street, of being with Father Ridley when he showed me the brand new Sellinger Hall for the first time and of his enormous pride in what he justly referred to as the campus’s signature building. And anyone who is a regular at the state-of-the-art Fitness and Aquatic Center cannot help but feel a sense of gratitude for Father Ridley’s efforts to build that magnificent facility. Yet from my perspective as someone who was privileged to serve on Loyola’s Board of Trustee’s I was most impressed not so much by the many building projects he completed, but rather by his unwavering resolve to further enhance both the intellectual experience of students and faculty and the Jesuit, Catholic nature of the university. With regard to the intellectual mission, we can see this commitment in the impressive programs designed to promote the academic engagement of first year students, in the dramatic expansion of the study abroad program, and in the increased support for faculty research and scholarship. With regard to the Catholic and Jesuit nature of Loyola, we can point to the robust and well-funded centers for Catholic Studies, Values and Service, and Campus Ministry. The Ignatian pilgrimage program that allows members of the faculty to follow the footsteps of Ignatius and his companions in Spain and Italy as well as the Encuentro El Salvador program sends Loyola faculty, students, and staff to visit and work with the Jesuits of Central America are also noteworthy programs established by Father Ridley to enhance the Catholic mission of the university. One innovation of Father Ridley’s tenure that serves to bring Loyola’s Catholic heritage and academic mission in a particularly clear way is the Loyola College Clinical Centers, headquartered in Belevedere Square off of York Road. In this Center, our graduate students in psychology, pastoral counseling, education, audiology and speech pathology receive their clinical training while providing quality care to patients and clients in the heart of Baltimore. The mandate of this center, based on our Catholic, Jesuit mission is to seek out and serve those persons who have traditionally underserved or neglected. In this way—and in many others—Loyola seeks to implement Pope John Paul II’s call for Catholic universities “to contribute concretely to the progress of the society within which it works,” and so, in the words of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Loyola seeks to educate “the whole person of solidarity with the real world.”
The activities of the Clinical Centers are only a small sampling of the Gospel-based service and reflection that take place at Loyola, and I do not by any means want to suggest that a commitment to social justice and solidarity with the poor and the marginalized exhausts Loyola’s commitment to its Catholic heritage. To do so would do violence to the vibrant Catholic intellectual life that is found, not only in our outstanding departments of philosophy and theology, but throughout the university and to rich program of Christian formation offered by the College’s chaplaincy. But I offer the work of the Clinical Centers as one unique and innovative example of Father Ridley’s abiding commitment Loyola’s mission as a Catholic university. From my perspective, the work of the clinical centers is emblematic of the way that Loyola’s identity as a Catholic university in service to the City of Baltimore comes together. I would like to reflect on this identity as I begin my term as president.
Only three days after he arrived in October 1851 to begin his ministry as Archbishop of Baltimore, Francis Patrick Kenrick directed the superior of the Sulpician Fathers to close Saint Mary’s College, an institution for laymen that the Sulpicians had operated in tandem with their seminary for over fifty years. Far from being opposed to the educational apostolate, Archbishop Kenrick understood that the education of the laity was foreign to the spirit of the mission of the Society of Saint Sulpice and was a distraction from their primary work of priestly formation, a work that continues to this day in the Archdiocese of Baltimore at Saint Mary’s Seminary and University. Rather it was Archbishop Kenrick’s intention to attract the Society of Jesus to this primal see of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States that they might establish one of the educational foundations for which they were so justly acclaimed. On that very same day, October 13, 1851, the Jesuit superior of the Maryland Province, Father Ignatius Brocard, accepted Archbishop Kenrick’s invitation to establish a college for boys and young men in Baltimore. The problem of finding suitable quarters for the new college was equal to the manpower problem that faced the Jesuits as they sought to launch yet another American college. It was not clear that they had the human resources to begin a new college in 1852. Providence intervened—at least in Archbishop Kenrick’s view—when the Jesuit college in Worcester, Massachusetts (the exact name escapes me at the moment) burned to the ground on July 14, 1852. Doubtful that the Worcester college could be revived, the acting provincial of the Maryland Province, Father Joseph Aschwanden, transferred the Jesuit faculty at Holy Cross to Baltimore so that the new Jesuit enterprise might begin in the fall of 1852. With a faculty in place, the first president of Loyola College, Father John Early, announced that classes would begin at a temporary location on Holliday Street on September 15. The eight Jesuits—all of them under the age of forty—who formed the original faculty greeted fifty-eight young men on that opening day of classes. By the end of the academic year, the number of scholars at Loyola College had reached ninety-five.
While the curriculum offered at the new Loyola—following the Jesuit’s famed Ratio studiorum—would be identical to the one offered in Massachusetts, the context of the educational experience would be dramatically different. This was the case because, unlike Holy Cross, Loyola would not limit admission to Roman Catholic boys, and so from its very inception, Loyola welcomed Protestant and Jewish students. Indeed, when one read’s Father Early’s announcement of the establishment of his new school in the September 3 edition of The Baltimore Sun, one is struck by the complete absence of any reference to the Roman Catholic Church, the Society of Jesus, or even to religious instruction. The name of the new college would, of course, indicate the essentially religious nature of the new enterprise to the discerning reader, but it is clear that Father Early sought to cast as wide a net as possible in order to populate the fledgling school. This openness to non-Catholic students does not seem to be motivated by an explicit desire for converts to Catholicism because the non-Catholics were exempt from religion classes (and it worth noting that the theology requirements in those early days were rather minimal) and from the devotional practices that were mandatory for the Catholic students. Nor is it fair to assume that this early openness to non-Catholic students was simply a crass bid to boost enrollment. Rather, this openness reflected a confidence that an education at Loyola College would benefit any young man of sufficient scholastic aptitude and so be of benefit to the city of Baltimore. Nicholas Varga, in his history of the College, Baltimore’s Loyola, Loyola’s Baltimore, points out that the College’s original charter declared that “Education of youth is…a sure means of securing good and useful citizens and an important aid in perpetuation of our free institutions.” This suggests that while there can be no doubt about the particularly religious goals the new Archbishop and the Jesuit provincial had for the Catholic students, these men also understood that the distinctively religious mission of Loyola also found an authentic expression by promoting the common good of the city of Baltimore. Archbishop Kenrick and Father Early believed that establishing a Jesuit college in Baltimore would be good for Catholics and the Catholic Church, it is true, but they were similarly convinced that such an institution would be good for the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland.
My concerns about the relationship between the university and the city, particularly the Catholic university, have arisen as a result of my reflections on the effects of Hurricane Katrina. As many of you know, Loyola College welcomed eighty-three students from the universities of New Orleans—principally from Loyola University and Xavier University. Their presence has fostered discussion on campus about the social and political implications of that disaster. Many of our students, frequently motivated by their Christian faith, have asked how could we as a nation neglect the infrastructure so necessary to protect New Orleans and they have expressed outrage at the abandonment of the poor to ravages of the floods that followed Katrina. And with good reason. Yet I cannot help but think that the inequities and injustices that were so apparent in New Orleans plague all of our major cities, including Baltimore.
Indeed, it seems that Baltimore and New Orleans share a number of similarities. Baltimore, like New Orleans, is a top American city, an historic city with a unique character. Both are popular tourist destinations, sharing world-class cultural amenities and institutions. Both also have a wealth and diversity of great universities and colleges.
They possess, as well, an underclass that does not share in the American dream and that remains at risk economically and socially, suffering from public health issues, violence, and a lack of educational opportunity.
And because of the ways in which our national priorities affect cities like Baltimore, it seems that even the most creative and hard-working city officials are limited in what they can to do address issues that are truly national problems. But my concern, is not to tell our officials how to they solve the problems of racial and economic inequality, rather it is ask what difference a Catholic and Jesuit university like Loyola College can make in city like Baltimore. Or to put it another way, what difference does being in a city like Baltimore make for Catholic and Jesuit education. For the work of Loyola College is ultimately about education and academic excellence. Yet it seems that the education Loyola offers will be deficient as a Catholic, Jesuit education if fails to help our students understand the social realities of poverty, race and class in our cities and throughout our nation. It is deficient because, as Father General has forcefully reminded us, without experience of and reflection on the realities of injustice, our students are ill prepared for the “real world” and so cannot develop the solidarity that Father Kolvenbach sees as essential for Christian social transformation. He writes, “Students in the course of their formation must let the gritty reality of this world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering and engage it constructively. They should learn to perceive, think, choose, and act for the rights of others, especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed.” Such formation, Father General suggests, is advanced not only by concepts about injustice but by contact with the victims of injustice. Therefore it is my belief that Loyola College should continuously strive to renew and deepen it relationships with this great city in all of its diversity. We fail in our mission, shaped initially by Archbishop Kenrick and Father Early and now sharpened by Father Kolvenbach’s teaching, if Baltimore is not a better city because of Loyola’s presence. We fail Loyola’s students if they pass through Baltimore and only know the Inner Harbor, Camden Yards and Fells Point. We must help them to learn from and engage the entire city. Its museums, libraries, and religious institutions as well as through those regions of the city where poverty and hopelessness persist.
As I have tried to make clear in my comments about the College’s Clinical Centers and the work of Loyola’s Center for Values and Service (founded by Father Tim Brown, currently serving as Father Provincial of the Maryland Province), this College is already deeply engaged in the city of Baltimore. Loyola College has been recognized as a leader among Jesuit colleges for its service programs long before Brian Linnane appeared on the scene. Nonetheless, I believe that we can and must do more. Therefore, I am happy to announce that the academic year 2006-2007 will be designated a Year of the City at Loyola College in Maryland. I will invite university-wide academic programs to explore how a Catholic and Jesuit university grounded in the liberal arts engages the city to the mutual benefit of the university and the city. I will encourage increased attention to the opportunities for service learning and community based learning through out the university. These programs do not seek to substitute service for the critical analysis of texts or hours in the laboratory, but rather see that such analysis and research is enhanced by the experience of direct service. In all of these activities we strive to make Loyola College an ever better citizen in the City of Baltimore and we look forward to collaborating with city officials, community leaders, and the Urban Vicariate of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
As the time draws near to bring these remarks to a close, I am aware that some of you will be disappointed by my comments this morning; particularly those among us who are afraid that a mission-driven commitment to service and social justice represents a lessening of a commitment to a robust intellectual life at Loyola College that is truly and confidently Catholic. To these friends, I will confess that I am disappointed in these remarks, too. I have not been able to cover a number of topics that are very important to me. This was not the speech that I read and prepared for over the summer. A hurricane named Katrina changed that. I would, however, like to briefly address my understanding of Loyola’s relationship to the Roman Catholic Church and to the gospel of Jesus Christ that it heralds.
I have not been successful in my resolve to keep a neater, more presidential desk. But there are two documents at hands reach that I can always locate immediately because they are always returned to their proper place so that I can refer to them regularly. These documents are Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution on Higher Education and Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach’s paper, “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Higher Education.” My reading of these documents and my initial study of Loyola College convinces me that the education offered at this university is fully consistent with the aspirations of both the late Holy Father and of Father General. Assessing Loyola’s fidelity to its Catholic and Jesuit mission is already a vital dimension of the College’s Executive Council. Loyola College strives to be truly a great university while remaining truly Catholic. This will not change while I am president.
Secondly, Loyola College is honored by the presence of His Eminence, Cardinal Keeler and by the presence of Bishops Madden and Rozanski, auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese, at this Inaugural Convocation. Their generous commitment to these inaugural events, and Cardinal Keeler’s gracious words of welcome, demonstrate the warm and mutually fruitful relationship that has always existed between the Archdiocese—representing as it does both the local and the universal Church—and Loyola College. Loyola is known for its excellent education that is truly Catholic. This, too, will not change while I am president.
Finally, permit me to relate a story. A few weeks ago, while greeting the congregation following the 6 p.m. Sunday mass, a young man asked me if it would ever be possible to talk with me. I told him how to arrange it and a few days later he had scaled the Olympian heights to the president’s office. It turned out that he is a first year student and after the usual pleasantries, he got the real point of our meeting. He came from a devout family and his faith had always been important to him but that lately he had been having doubts. He knew, he told me, that I was highly educated and that I seemed very intelligent, so after listening to my homily he resolved to ask me to explain why I believed in the God of Jesus Christ. I cannot tell you how moved I was by that request and by the discussion that followed. A meeting that I thought would last ten to fifteen minutes in a very busy day, lasted forty-five and is to be continued. It was a powerful reminder to me of why I do what I do and of what makes this university so distinct. It reminded me of similar conversations I had as a student at Boston College and the great difference those opportunities made in my life. It is a great privilege to share the gifts that have been so generously given.
I am grateful to all of you for your presence and attention this morning. It is a sign of your esteem for Loyola College in Maryland and of your personal support for me as I begin my tenure as president. After only a few months, I can tell you that nothing in my history as a Jesuit working in the university apostolate prepared me for how demanding the job of the president is. But I can tell you that I am energized and excited by this work. It is for me, consoling work, and I mean consoling in the Ignatian sense in that I believe I have experienced an increase in faith, in hope, and in love while here. The history of Loyola College and the stories of our students and alumni indicate that the work we do as a Catholic and Jesuit university is enormously important for our city, for state, for our nation and for the world. It is my hope that we will all leave this Inaugural Convocation with pride in Loyola’s accomplishment and a resolute commitment to the promise of Loyola’s future—ad majorem Dei gloriam.
Brian F. Linnane, SJ