Loyola University Maryland

Office of the President

Fr. Linnane's State of the College Address 2008

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Loyola College In Maryland
State of the college address

20 October 2008

Brian F. Linnane, S.J.
President

Good afternoon! I am delighted to welcome you to Loyola’s final State of the College address. When we gather to hear the President’s report next autumn, we will be hearing the first State of the University address. In late July, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees acting with the authority and approval given them by the full Board voted unanimously to change Loyola College’s designation to Loyola University Maryland. At that same meeting, the Executive Committee voted to re-designate the College of Arts and Sciences to Loyola College in order to signal the proud legacy of that name and to underscore the central role the arts and sciences play in Loyola’s undergraduate education. After careful study, reflection, and extensive discussions, it is clear to the leadership of this institution that the university designation more accurately reflects the sort of institution Loyola College has become. I am confident that this change will help new generations of prospective students, faculty, and staff to readily comprehend the richness and complexity of this great institution.

As you know, the annual State of the College address is taking place later than usual this year. This change was made in order to accommodate the final stages of strategic planning, including the endorsement of the plan by the Loyola Conference and its approval by the College’s Board of Trustees. I am happy to report that both groups signed off on the plan unanimously and enthusiastically. What was not anticipated when this talk was scheduled was the global economic downturn that we find ourselves in the midst of. This crisis will certainly affect Loyola College as it affects families and other institutions around the world. Therefore, I will speak about Loyola’s financial standing before turning to a discussion of the new Strategic Plan. Finally, I will bring you up to date on some recent developments.

Loyola and the Economic Environment

The good news is that the College is financially sound and in a strong position to weather the current financial crisis. Indeed, Loyola is in a position to continue to flourish and advance our mission during the difficult days ahead. I am grateful to John Palmucci, Vice President for Business and Finance, and his team for their very careful and prudent management of the College’s resources and to our trustees, especially Ed Burchell, chairman of the Board’s Finance Committee, and Dave Ferguson, chairman of the Investment Committee. The College’s positive financial position is in large part a tribute to their dedication and leadership. That being said, it is also obvious that the College’s financial stability will be affected by factors outside of our control. This will require continued vigilance and careful planning. No member of the Loyola College community can be exempt from the efforts that will be necessary to maintain the College’s financial well-being while aggressively advancing the fundamental mission of this university. I would like to spend a few minutes addressing some of these challenges and the steps that are being taken to address them.

Many of you are aware that the College has invested in the Commonfund Short Term Fund. Since our revenue essentially arrives twice a year this allows us to gain interest on this income while continuing to draw on these funds to meet our payroll and pay our bills. Loyola College had $55 million invested in the fund when Wachovia Bank, the fund’s trustee, announced that it was resigning as trustee and freezing 90% of the fund’s assets. In recent days, Wachovia has made about 46% of the fund available to investors. The College has withdrawn these funds and so is in a strong position to meet our financial responsibilities. In addition, Wachovia has created a schedule for the repayment of the remaining funds. In the meantime these monies continue to earn interest and we anticipate a full repayment. Finally, the College has been able to secure a line of credit in the amount of $35 million as a contingency plan. We do not anticipate the need to use this line of credit but it is good to have it in place given the continuing economic uncertainties.

In addition to revenue from tuition and fees, the College derives income from its endowment or investment portfolio. These investments, largely gifts to enhance academic programs and faculty support, are managed conservatively by the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees and outside consultants. This strategy has the goal of limiting losses when the stock market is falling, and has been successful insofar as our endowment has performed better than the market in recent weeks. Nonetheless, we have seen a serious decline in the value of Loyola’s endowment. At the end of the last fiscal year it was valued at $165 million and is currently valued around $130 million. Because of the formula used to derive funds from the endowment (5% of a three year average of endowment income) this will not affect this year’s budget but we will see a decline in the revenue from our investments available for the budget in the next few years. This is something that we are monitoring very carefully to be sure that we can safeguard and enhance this important source of revenue for the College.

Since the topic of the College’s endowment brings philanthropy to mind it is worth mentioning that the present economic situation certainly makes the work of fundraising more difficult. Donors are less confident about their financial situation and so are often less willing to make significant monetary contributions. Persons who lose their jobs may be unable to contribute to the annual fund (which generates about $4.5 million for the operating fund). Nonetheless, our Advancement division will continue to pursue its fundraising goals aggressively. David Sears is confident that the priorities of the new strategic plan will be attractive to donors and to foundations and he will use the information gained by the recent study conducted by Marts and Lundy to reach out to new potential donors. In addition we are hiring development directors for the three academic units who will work closely with the Deans and faculty in order to secure increased funding for our academic programs. Given the strong loyalty of our parents and alumni, I remain confident that we will continue to meet if not exceed our fundraising goals.

Another important source of revenue for Loyola College is the grant from the State of Maryland through the Sellinger Program. Like many other programs that receive state funding, this program has been cut by Governor O’Malley due to the projected loss of state revenue. In the current fiscal year, the College will receive just under $5.9 million dollars from this program. This represents a 15% cut (or a cut of over $655,000) from the amount approved by the State Legislature. Again, this will not have a dramatic effect on our overall budget because we build in a contingency in the operating budget to account for any cuts from the state. Nonetheless, this is a significant loss to the College and it is one that may affect our abilities to make capital improvements as we move forward. Further, we have to be prepared for additional cuts this year and in future years if the economy does not improve.

It is evident that the greatest challenge Loyola faces as a result of economic downturn is the one we share with our students and their families: maintaining Loyola’s accessibility. We have already seen a heightened demand for financial aid and this is likely to increase as traditional sources of credit decrease and the cost of borrowing increases. Financial aid and Loyola’s accessibility will be the main topic of the December Board of Trustee’s meeting. In the meantime, we are looking at new ways to assist our students to meet the burdens of financing a Loyola education. In addition to helping our families with the financial aid process, Alumni Relations (through its Parents Programs), and the Career Center are working to assist our students find summer jobs and internships as well as those parents who may face career transitions due to the economic downturn. I should also note that the College is committed to funding a number of important initiatives that will improve our visibility and attractiveness to potential students and donors and that these were already in place as a result of the strategic planning process. These endeavors include the SimpsonScarborough marketing/branding research and additional monies for new advertising based on the Simpson Scarborough results. Further, I have authorized a complex renovation of Loyola’s web presence that will be rolled out to coincide with the designation change in August of next year. This is part of the essential ground work that will help us attract additional applicants to Loyola’s undergraduate and graduate programs while assisting in us in getting the good news about Loyola out to alumni, donors and other key constituents.

What we see, then, is some tightening in our revenue streams in the next few years while at the same time there will be need to finance the new initiatives of the strategic plan and address the new economic challenges this crisis will bring. It was already clear to me that the new strategic plan would require some reallocation of resources. Therefore I have asked the Vice Presidents to work with David Beaupre, Assistant Vice President for Business and Finance, to identify possible efficiencies that would not harm the university’s central work but that would generate additional funds for new initiatives. Such an exercise, while never easy or pleasant, is even more urgent in the current economic environment. I encourage all members of the Loyola community to cooperate in this effort that will help to ensure the continued vitality of this institution. As I listened to the debate between the presidential candidates last Wednesday evening, I was sensitive to the references to the current economic situation as being the worst since the Great Depression of 1929. There is no doubt that these are extremely challenging times for Loyola and there is much to be concerned about but I am confident that if we work together and stay true to our mission of providing a transformative educational experience for our students, Loyola will come through this period of uncertainty stronger than ever.

There is much more that can be said about the impact of the economic crisis on Loyola and there is probably much more that is unknown. I will send a more detailed message on the College’s finances to the entire community in the next few days but at this moment let me again reiterate that the College is on sound financial footing and that I am confident that our tradition of careful fiscal planning will continue to serve us well as we face the future.

The New Strategic Plan

Let me turn now to a discussion of the new strategic plan, “Grounded in Tradition, Educating for the Future: The Plan for Loyola University Maryland.” Let me say at the outset that I am very proud of this plan and I have enormous enthusiasm for it. At the earliest stages of our planning, I felt that the aspirations of the plan would be rather modest: to enhance and deepen what Loyola College is already doing well. I now understand that the plan we have developed is dramatic and historic in nature. It has the potential to transform the educational experience of our students while remaining faithful to core values which support our Catholic, Jesuit tradition of offering a highly personalized education in an intimate environment that continues to promote the complementarity of faith and reason. This plan will, I believe, make Loyola a much more attractive place to teach, research, and learn.

Now you can probably imagine the conflicting feelings I experienced when I presented this ambitious—and costly—plan to the Trustees on October 8th while many of them watched their Blackberries document the stock market’s continued volatility or should we say “free fall.” Was this a time, I wondered, to act so boldly and to move forward with such a plan? I am convinced that the answer is “yes” and I am resolute in my determination to implement these initiatives. On the one hand, I believe that it would be a major mistake for Loyola to shrink in light of the challenges and opportunities that face us. This is not a time for Loyola to rest on its laurels. The academic quality of this university has increased dramatically in recent decades and it is vitally important for us to continue on this path. This is not a matter of status or guide book ratings; rather it has to do with forming our students to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. On the other hand, the plan I present to you is perfect for such a challenging time because it is linked to the annual budget and so designed to be flexible and adaptable. As you will see, the focus of this plan is not on new facilities as much as it is on programmatic development and on the personnel necessary to advance these programs. This will allow the senior management of the College and the Budget Committee to assess the economic feasibility of advancing each phase of the strategic plan. It may be the case that the economic environment will not permit a full implementation of the plan in a given year but it does seem unlikely that we would be unable to make some progress on our key strategic goals.

Before outlining the various strategic initiatives, let me say a few words about the general characteristics of this particular plan. First of all, let me acknowledge the highly collaborative effort that went into the formulation of this strategic plan. I am very grateful to Anne Young, Professor of Mathematical Sciences, for her willingness to serve as Special Assistant to the President for Planning. She worked tirelessly to keep the process inclusive and on schedule. Dr. Young was able to help focus and sustain a conversation between and among Loyola Conference, the Board of Trustees, and the senior administration. In addition, she coordinated presentations to all of the relevant constituencies during the two years that went into developing this plan. Anne made sure that every perspective found a voice in the process and that no comment or suggestion went unnoticed. The Loyola Conference, too, contributed mightily to the plan and I am grateful to its members and to those who helped the Conference in its important role in the planning process.

You will notice that there are relatively few spotlight initiatives in the plan. This is the result of a conscious decision to separate strategic initiatives from operational endeavors. The focus of this plan will be those initiatives that will advance our central goal of becoming the leading Catholic comprehensive university in the nation. That being said, we are also aware that there are a number of operational initiatives that we will continue to address in order to maintain the progress already made. So for example, while compensation goals for faculty, administrators, and staff were a part of the “Great Resolves, Great Desires” plan, in the current plan they are assumed to be part of Loyola’s normal operating structure. Similarly, the work that the College is committed to around the question of diversity (and the funding this will require) is built into the budget and will be implemented as part of a continuing university wide priority. I hope that this suggests to you that even if you are not touched directly by one of the strategic “spot light” initiatives you are still part of this plan. Further, the flexibility of this plan suggests the opportunity to adapt it in order to address new and unforeseen opportunities. Again, the success of the plan will be dependent on the cooperation, good will and hard work of the entire Loyola College community.

At the beginning of the two year process that generated the current strategic plan, the Loyola Conference, the Board of Trustees, and the President’s Cabinet all engaged in processes assessing the university’s strengths and weaknesses and looked to determine our position relative to similar institutions. We found ourselves among the top Catholic comprehensive universities in the nation. In some areas of comparison we are already among the leaders but in others there is clearly room for enhancement. These assessments and the discussions they generated helped us to determine the somewhat audacious goal of new plan: taking the necessary steps to become the leading Catholic comprehensive university in the nation. Once we articulated our goal we embarked on a lengthy process to determine what initiatives would most effectively advance this goal in the light of the reality of limited resources. I hope you will all take the time to read the planning document which is presently available on the website. It will explain in greater detail the elements that I can only highlight this afternoon. You will see that our spot light initiatives are grouped into five categories: undergraduate initiatives, graduate initiatives, faculty enhancement, community and global outreach, and athletics. Allow me to say a few words about each area.

There are two major undergraduate initiatives: a living/learning program for every first year student and a program to enhance the natural sciences. The living/learning initiative will give every first year student the opportunity to take a small, year long seminar that will be related to living clusters in the residence halls based on particular themes. While the exact details of this living/learning program must be developed by the faculty through the normal channels of academic governance, I believe that this is a significant and exciting opportunity to bridge the divide that sometimes occurs between what the students experience in the lecture hall or laboratory and their social/residential experience. This initiative is a response to widespread desire among the faculty for a more academically engaged student body. I believe that a close working relationship with engaged scholars and student development professionals will serve to excite students about the life of the mind and the challenges of a rigorous Jesuit education. While I see this as an academic initiative aimed at attracting and engaging serious students, I would also assert that its success will depend on serious collaboration between faculty and the professionals of Student Development. I am happy to report that the Academic Senate has already approved the charge for the task force that will develop the plan for this initiative. Together we can develop a program that will touch every undergraduate and so have the power to transform the academic environment of the College.

The undergraduate science initiative is to some degree a response to the Trustees’ concerns about the sciences at Loyola. This is not to suggest that they believed that the sciences at Loyola were somehow deficient; rather they were concerned that we had the necessary resources to attract and prepare young persons to meet the scientific and technological needs of our nation. Early in my tenure as president, the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees asked the science faculty for a strategic plan and this initiative is the beginning of a response to the needs and goals established in that plan. It calls for a renewed emphasis on core science learning while developing plans to increase the overall number of majors in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors. We will seek additional grant monies to support enhanced faculty research and scholarships for science majors. Further, we will engage in a limited expansion and renovation of Donnelly Hall while planning for new science facilities in the future.

With regard to graduate education, there are also two key initiatives. The first is to increase the profile of Loyola’s graduate programs by launching a School of Education, achieving national recognition of Loyola’s unique model for our clinical centers, and continue to strive for greater renown for the Sellinger School. I am confident that by working in these areas we will continue to maintain our ability to attract the best students and faculty to these signature programs. In addition, a second initiative will augment the services that will allow us to recruit and retain the best graduate students. We will look to increase the graduate assistantships available, particularly in our doctoral and full-time masters programs while developing student support services that address the particular needs of graduate students and part-time adult learners. This will, it seems to me, help us to more effectively extend our commitment to educating the whole person to our graduate students which, in turn, will make us a more attractive place to pursue graduate education in an increasingly competitive environment.

The plan’s third initiative focuses on faculty development. It has the goal of strengthening Loyola’s intellectual position and reputation by means of additional tenure track positions and enhanced support for the scholarly development of the faculty. We will achieve this by adding new tenure track lines and converting some full-time affiliate lines into tenure track positions. I believe that increasing the number of research active scholars on the faculty will enhance our reputation in the scholarly community and improve the quality of the learning experience for our students. This is not to take anything away from the excellent work of many of the affiliate faculty. It just makes sense that the academic quality will increase when we provide additional time and resources for our professors’ scholarly and service activities. Such an ambitious hiring program (living/learning alone will require eighteen new tenure track lines before it is launched in 2011) will require careful planning and coordination. I am very impressed with the hiring protocols that have been developed by the deans and the Office of Academic Affairs. It has already borne fruit with the outstanding new faculty recruited for fall 2008 and I believe that it will continue to help us be confident that we are attracting the new faculty who are of the highest caliber and who are committed to the Jesuit mission of this university. Finally, in addition to this hiring, we will seek the resources to provide a research leave to all tenure track faculty who are making appropriate progress toward tenure. My own experience as a junior faculty member (which was only eight years ago) convinces me of the great value for our faculty and for our university when we give young scholars the opportunity to explore and develop new veins of post-doctoral research. Teaching and scholarship is at the very heart of the mission of a true university and I am proud that a renewed commitment to these essential activities is at the heart of our plan.

Community engagement—both locally and globally—will be an important part of our plan. With regard to our neighbors, Loyola will seek to take the lead in developing a plan that will ensure the stability of the York Road corridor. Partnering with our neighbors and other relevant constituencies, we will develop a plan to improve the quality of life of those persons living, working, and learning in this neighborhood. A second commitment is to enhance the Global Studies Program in order to complement our outstanding programs in international education and more adequately prepare our students for a world that rapidly grows smaller. This initiative is a response to a very thoughtful and compelling proposal that came to us from some of our undergraduates. It too is an initiative that will require additional faculty resources principally in the social sciences and humanities.

The final dimension of this plan has to do with intercollegiate athletics. I view a robust intercollegiate athletic program as essential for maintaining an academically engaged undergraduate population. I believe that a competitive intercollegiate athletic program serves to generate a healthy and productive focus for school pride and spirit. It is also the case that participation in varsity athletics promotes models of discipline, rigor, and leadership. I am proud of our record of producing scholar athletes as evidenced by our high graduation rates and the strong academic performance demonstrated by a great many of our varsity athletes. In addition, a strong, competitive athletic program can only aid in our efforts to recruit students and engage our alumni. Our current plans call for implementing a robust marketing plan for Greyhound athletes and some improvements to Reitz Arena to complement the new facilities at the Ridley Intercollegiate Athletic Complex. We will also continue to implement the strategic plan developed by Student Development to enhance the experience of the student-athletes in programs currently underfunded by increasing full-time coaching and scholarship opportunities.

I hope that you share my excitement about these initiatives and my commitment to achieving the goal of being the leading Catholic comprehensive university in the nation. This plan is the result of many hours of work on the part of many, many members of the Loyola College community. I am grateful to each and every one of them. Their efforts truly have inspired me and I earnestly hope that they will inspire each member of the Loyola community to get behind this plan and work to advance its vitally important goal.

Campus News

Before concluding let me bring you up to date on recent developments at the College.

On July 1, we welcomed David Sears, Vice President for Advancement, Dr. Karyl Leggio, Dean of the Sellinger School and Dr. Peter Murrell, Founding Dean of the School of Education, to Loyola College. Since that time we have also welcomed Sharon Higgins as the new Assistant Vice President for Communications in the Division of Enrollment Management and Communications. All seem to have settled in nicely and are already making dramatic contributions to Loyola. I am very excited to have them with us.

The library renovation and expansion was completed over the summer to universal acclaim. This was a very demanding project insofar as we kept the building open during the two years of construction. I am grateful that our students and faculty were so patient during this period and to John McGinty and his staff for their remarkable success in continuing to provide their customary high degree of service under less than ideal circumstances. It is particularly gratifying to see the increased usage of the library and the enhanced academic climate the renewed facility promotes.

The renovation of Rahner Village (formerly Gallagher Town Homes) was completed this summer by our own renovation crew and is now home to approximately 160 members of the Class of 2009. The renovations are beautiful and will surely affirm our first place in the Princeton guide for the quality of residence facilities. The Village is named after Karl Rahner, the great Jesuit theologian who died in 1984. It is hoped that his scholarly and spiritual qualities will be guide the residents in this very popular facility.

The Ridley Intercollegiate Athletic Complex continues on schedule. Work on the stadium itself started in late summer. It is scheduled to be finished in late 2009 and be available for use by our teams in early spring 2010. The renovation of the lower bay area of the Timonium campus is also progressing nicely. This area will provide a new home for Advancement and College Communications when it is complete, freeing up space for academic purposes in the Humanities Center.

Enrollment

  • Undergraduate enrollment is at 3,716
  • graduate at 2,364
  • total enrollment at 6,080
  • Retention rate for Class of 2011 is 91%, second consecutive year at that level; we are confident the full-need policy in financial aid contributed to this excellent retention rate for this class and it will help us in improving our already strong four year graduation rate

Class of 2012 Highlights

  • Second entering class with full-need policy in financial aid
  • Fifth straight year of 7,500+ applications
  • Yield rate increased for second consecutive year, by more than a point, resulting in a larger than anticipated class of 1,068 students; the largest in Loyola’s history
  • Second consecutive year where we had to close the class on May 1, not needing to admit any students from the wait list
  • Most racially diverse class in Loyola’s history, with 14% students of color, up from last year’s 12%.
  • Quality continues to be strong, with the average unweighted GPA of 3.46 and average SAT hovering around 1200.

Finally some congratulations are in order: to Dr. Elizabeth Schmidt for winning the Alpha Sigma Nu Book Prize in the area of history for her recent book, Mobilizing the Masses and to Dr. June Ellis, whose book, Tattooing the World, was recognized by City Paper as the best book in 2008 by a local author. Swimmer Phil Sholtz ’11 is to be congratulated for his participation in the Paralympic games in Beijing were he set an American record in the 50 meter butterfly. I also want to congratulate and commend those students who worked so hard in the Rock the Vote project on campus which helped over 1200 students register to vote and obtain absentee ballots.

I want to thank you for your attention this afternoon and for all of your many efforts that make Loyola College in Maryland the vibrant Jesuit university that it is. We face uncertain times from a position of strength and I am confident that the path we embark upon will serve our students—graduate and undergraduate alike—in new and dramatic ways. I am deeply grateful for your support and friendship. I am very proud to be president of this great institution and I look forward to working with you as Loyola College continues to develop in service to our community and our world.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.