Dear Loyola Families:
A little book, fewer than 200 pages, sits on my desk, dog-eared and scuffed from use. I discovered it in 2001, a year that brought all of us to some of the toughest days we’ve ever had, as individuals, as friends, as neighbors, as a nation, as a world community. During the last several weeks here at Loyola, I’ve scanned the book frequently. I’d like to tell you why the book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book, has helped me once again, and lastly, provide a campus update.
Danna Center Renovations: We have begun work on a $3 million renovation of the Student Center, a space on every campus that is symbolic and practical; a place that is for anyone and that is for everyone. Construction is to be completed by September. Two million dollars has been allocated by the Board of Trustees for the renovations and $1 million from Sodexo, the university’s food service provider, for improvements in dining facilities and services.
Award-winning designer Henry Muñoz, CEO of Kell Muñoz Architects, is the creative catalyst for the Danna Center renovations. His firm is the largest minority-owned architectural group in Texas and has received much acclaim for its focus on cultural activism in its work.
Mr. Muñoz, an alumnus of Loyola and a former trustee, is donating his and his team’s time for the renovation project. Designers and architects are incorporating space, color and decor reflective of the Danna Center’s 1960s modern context. In his master plan, Mr. Muñoz offers four goals for the building: create and activate warm, welcoming, inclusive public spaces; offer the best dining services in the nation; provide attractive meeting rooms conducive to students’ needs; and allow for student organization office areas which promote interaction and collaboration.
The renovations will touch more than 90,000 square feet of space in the Danna Center, out of a total of 114,000 square feet. Changes will consist of new paint, furniture and carpet throughout the building, new landscaping, installation of a student art gallery, redesign of the existing food mart and retail area, and a redesign of existing student organization areas and dining areas.
The students consulted in the planning of the Student Center, the architect, and I, believe that the student center should reflect the diversity of the Loyola community. Mr. Munoz placed special significance on the redesign and expansion of space for the Center for Intercultural Understanding. The CIU space at the entry of the Danna Center will be opened up and will incorporate multimedia equipment such as LCD projectors and a wall of six flat-screen TVs that all student organization groups can use to tell their “cultural” story. Displays of cultural stories will alternate among different student groups. The CIU office will be moved to the upper floor of the building, allowing for more meeting space.
We know that the CIU inspires passion among those who know the history of the CIU’s beginning. The Student Center is a perfect location for the CIU, a place to see, hear, and sense, every day that cultural differences make us Loyola University New Orleans. And yet, as we designed Student Center improvements that would benefit every student, we came to realize that the CIU is more than walls and furniture, and it transcends a particular corner of a particular building. The changes proposed for the CIU trouble some. I’ve listened to concerns expressed by students and alumni. Many believe that the CIU while well-established can expand with resources (program and staff) so more people can be included.
We’ve listened to each other in agreement and disagreement. Part of learning about self and others is opening our hearts and minds to the different opinions and letting the differences wrestle and bump against each other. Over time, the sharp edges of each opinion softened so differences could co-exist and a plan evolved. The plan does not satisfy everyone in every way. But it honors the differences that form its foundation.
That’s what I learned through The Four Agreements. As we move forward together, I invite all Loyola students and families to consider The Four Agreements and return to campus committed to a new year formed by the challenges of the past.
- Be Impeccable With Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
- Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
- Don’t Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
- Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.* Explore the new Danna Center when you return to Loyola this fall. Visit every floor, every corner, every special space. Visit the CIU if you’ve never been. Make the Danna Center—every square inch—yours.
Now, on to some updates from the Student Life division!
- Wolfpack Welcome: The Centennial Class of 2012, transfer students and their families will arrive on campus on August 20 to participate in the Wolfpack Welcome orientation program. During this program, students and families will learn about the Loyola community through various workshops, discussions, and activities. At the end of the program, students will have a confirmed class schedule and some new friends. Parents will have a better understanding of the resources and the support Loyola provides for student success.
- FYE Book Discussion: This summer the First Year Experience committee mailed first-year students copies of the shared summer reading, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. The book highlights the work of Dr. Paul Farmer in his mission to cure tuberculosis in Haiti and around the world. During Wolfpack Welcome, students will discuss the Jesuit value of “purpose beyond self” as a theme during their book discussion with Loyola faculty, staff and students. Wolfpack Welcome participants will also hear from Dr. Richard Heinzl, another man whose mission of “purpose beyond self” drove him to create the organization of “Doctors Without Borders of North America.”
Later in the academic year, the University community will hear from Dr. David Walton, who is one of two Global Health Equity residents working with Dr. Paul Farmer. Exemplifying “purpose beyond self,” Dr. Walton spends half of his time in Haiti working to eradicate tuberculosis, raising awareness for HIV, and advocating to provide access to health care for everyone.
- Cardoner Leadership Fellows will join a 20-person community to study and practice leadership together. The Fellows will become experts among their peers on a pressing social issue and collectively work toward positive change in that area.
- Watch for Leadership Development Programs: StrengthsQuest at Loyola, a University initiative to engage students in a campus culture using their unique talents and strengths and Leadership Loyola, which supports all students in conversations on leadership in light of Jesuit values. Students are also provided series of workshops to help them develop their personal leadership styles and equip them for leading their peers.
- New counseling/health staff: With assistance from a grant provided by the Raskob Foundation, the University Counseling and Health Center will welcome two new full-time staff counselors to assist in meeting the mental health and outreach programming needs of the campus community. This will provide the UCC with 4 full-time counselors in addition to an intern and consultant psychiatrist. This year we are pleased to partner with both the Ocshner Hospital System and the Loyola School of Nursing to provide progressive health care for our students. Loyola University will provide a Nurse Practioner health care model that will increase student satisfaction with services.
- Wellness Community: The Wellness Community, will focus on providing residence hall living for students who have an interest in all aspects of personal and social wellness. The community is completely free of all drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and will provide opportunities for students to get involved in various wellness-related activities. Events and community standards will be student-driven.
- Res Life’s Pack Planet Initiative: Residential Life has begun pursuing several ‘green’ policies and practices in an effort to minimize its carbon footprint and to work toward becoming a more sustainable operation. Recycling centers have been placed in all residence halls, new recycling programs have and will continue to be implemented throughout the year, and we are committed to using recycled and recyclable products such as office supplies.
- Alcohol Wise: This course will be implemented with all first-year students and was created to enhance campus culture, educate college students about the harmful effects of alcohol and act as prevention for future alcohol related violations.
- EMPLOYOLA: The new EMPLOYOLA job board providing students and employers with 24/7 access to internship and job notices launches August 15. Combined with electronic resources, including resume builder tools, occupational information resources, and technological advances that turn the concept of six degrees of separation into two clicks of separation; the new EMPLOYOLA service takes job hunting to new heights. Also available under the EMPLOYOLA brand – video resume software, on-line assessment tools, and search engines to find international opportunities.
- Watch for new programs from Career Development Center: Speed Networking for seniors, Social Justice Careers, and, Career Exploration/vocational discernment for sophomores along with the full compliment of career fairs, job search skills workshops, and employer-of-the-day programs.
- Commuters: All commuter students will receive “On the Go! The Off-Campus Update”, a monthly online newsletter. It’s a great way to stay informed about programs and resources available to commuter students. The Commuter Lunch Series will begin in September, featuring a speaker on a highlighted topic and offering free lunch to commuter students. Another resources: The commuter Web site: http://www.loyno.edu/commuters/.
- New Women’s Basketball Coach: Kellie Kennedy is our new head women’s basketball coach. Coach Kennedy comes to Loyola after spending 10 years as an assistant coach at Tulane University. She also was an assistant previously at the University of Richmond (1995-96) and UNC-Wilmington (1990-93). Coach Kennedy was the head coach at Hollins College from 1993-95.
Have a safe and happy summer