Dear Loyola Families:
I phoned a friend the other day, finding her in the midst of a blizzard. She was remarkably relaxed about the snow. She lives in the Northeast. Winter is no big deal.
I told her that we in New Orleans had just experienced our first real “sneaux” in decades. According to the Times-Piyacune, since 1850, snow had fallen in “measurable amounts” rather than traces in the city just 17 times.
Same white flakes. Very different circumstances. It’s a metaphor.
There’s no one in the world who hasn’t been affected, somehow, by the stress of the past several months. Whether or not your own family has had someone lose a job, or savings, or prospects for advancement, you likely know others in need. And you likely feel anxious every time you turn on the television or open a newspaper. We’re all in this together, whatever our individual circumstances. The reality is the same, our response is what matters.
I truly believe that students enrolled at Loyola are in the best place they could be to understand, and develop skills for, the challenges of today’s world. You well know, because you choose Loyola, that “Jesuit education is a call to human excellence, to the fullest possible development of all human qualities. This implies a rigor and academic excellence that challenges the student to develop all of his or her talents to the fullest. It is a call to critical thinking and disciplined studies, a call to develop the whole person, head and heart, intellect and feelings. The Jesuit vision of education implies further that students learn how to be critical, examine attitudes, challenge assumptions, and analyze motives. All of this is important if they are to be able to make decisions in freedom, the freedom that allows one to make love-filled and faith-filled decisions.”
That’s our Jesuit heritage, a heritage that has served humankind well for centuries, providing the structure for a well-informed, well-reasoned, affirming life. Now, more than ever, I urge you to feel confident in your decision to place your trust in a Loyola education.
You’ve probably read a lot of stories about colleges around the country that are in serious financial difficulties. Loyola, too, will be affected by the financial strains facing our Nation. But we remain firmly committed to excellence in every way that students know it. So I will continue my tradition of keeping you informed of the Student Life division’s progress and priorities.
Our first goal this year is to increase cocurricular programming, including the signature leadership program “StrengthsQuest” and the Jesuit values leadership lecture series. Let me describe StrengthsQuest for you, as it’s a relatively new concept. StrengthsQuest, Gallup’s strengths development program for college-age students, gives students the opportunity to develop based on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. In other words, it helps students learn what they do best, then build their lives on those talents. With StrengthsQuest, students can:
- Discover and develop their greatest talents.
- Use their strengths to improve their grades and increase their learning.
- Strategically determine a rewarding career path.
- Focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.
Isn’t that a positive way to plan for the future? We’re very pleased that 729 freshman students completed StrengthsQuest training, and many parents participated in a workshop during Family Weekend.
A second goal for us was the completion of the Danna Student Center renovation. Have you seen it? It has become the community gathering spot! The university community along with the Board of Trustees held the “renovation celebration” on October 9, 2008. Danna has started a new and exciting era for campus life, and is creating a vibrant campus community of student leaders, academics, and participants in scholarly, creative, and exciting endeavors. It is open to all students, student organizations, community members, and outside activities and programs. Overseen by the Office of Co-Curricular Programs, Danna houses multiple meeting spaces throughout the building, a state-of-the-art student organization collaborative and interactive work space, and top-notch dining options at multiple locations. This coming spring, we’ll begin renovations to the retail space of the Bookstore, so stay tuned for more improvements.
A central resource in Danna is the Career Development Center, whose staff works closely with students, faculty, academic programs, advising, and alumni. The accomplishments in this area are many, and I’ll outline some of them to give you a sense of the ways we are directly preparing our students to apply their talents and passions to career opportunities:
- Conducted 81 distinct career development programs ranging from workshops on resume writing to career fairs; posted 261 new internships and jobs, and conducted over 500 individual appointments.
- Launched EMPLOYOLA, our on-line career development network, and hosted 14 EMPLOYOLA teach-ins across campus.
- Launched two new virtual career development tools – CareerBeam and CareerShift.
- Partnered with 14 individual faculty members across all four undergraduate colleges to integrate career development material and activities into their courses. Partnerships took place in biology, business, history, music education, music therapy, political science, psychology, sociology, and theatre arts.
- Partnered with Academic Support Services to provide career and major exploration workshops and assessments for students receiving their services.
- Joined a planning team within the College of Business to design a four-year career development curriculum to launch fall 2009.
- Partnered with the Office of Mission and Identity to host Careers in Social Justice panel during Loyola Week.
- Partnered with the Associate Deans Office of the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences to provide career counseling to students readmitted to the College.
- Designed and wrote a new CDC web site for launch in spring 2009.
- Embraced the use of the new Danna Center LearnLab to transform instructional delivery.
- Initiated partnership with the Black Student Union (BSU) to deliver targeted career development programming to their constituents.
We continue to increase the impact of athletics and wellness programming in co-creating a vital campus life. We are exceptionally proud that many of our athletes combined their commitment to team with commitment to community this fall. The men’s basketball team assisted in setting up and serving Thanksgiving dinner to homeless men and recovering alcoholics at Bridge House and volunteered for the Hornet’s “Achieve to Read” program at local public school. The baseball team assisted with set up for a post race event for the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure. And the volleyball team visited with children and their families at Ronald McDonald House.
- The Wellness team offers over 20 group exercise classes per week.
- The cardio theater (4 new flat screen TV’s) have been operationalized!
- St. Ignatius Spirit Band launched.
- Athletes and staff participation in “Take Back the Night”.
- Collaboration with other offices with Orientation, Family Weekend, Athletic Pep Rallies.
- Research on field space for Loyola athletics and intramurals on-going.
- Addition of Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis in 2009.
As a residential college, Loyola knows that student satisfaction with Residential Life Services and facilities is key to overall student satisfaction. This fall, we increased Resident Assistant programs targeting social networking based the “care-of-the-person” theme model.
- This fall over 225 programs were held in residence!
- Presented to the Board of Trustees a walking tour of current residential facilities, and a design plan for a phased in enhancement of all public spaces; lounges, entryways, and kitchens. Further plans will be developed in the Spring, 2009, and I look forward to updating you on specifics this summer.
As I shared in my summer letter, we launched the following learning communities this fall:
- The Cardoner Fellows
- International Experience
We have had an established Honors Learning Community, and too, offered new ways of having partnerships enhance the programming.
We are adding four new and exciting learning communities for 2009-2010:
- Writing & Literature
- Women’s Initiatives for Learning & Leading
Another ambition for us this fall was to increase student satisfaction with Health and Counseling Services. This semester we focused much creativity and energy on preventative care and educational programming. The Ochsner Healthcare professionals presented five health and wellness programming for the Loyola community. Through a combination of staff counselor presentations in the residence halls and representatives from Residential Life, Athletics and Wellness, Dining Services and Co-Curricular Programs, we provided 25 developmentally appropriate health promotion and education programs. We also know that one-on-one services are needed, so to better meet the demand, we consolidated part-time positions and acquired a grant in order to fund two, full-time staff counselor positions.
So, the weather outside may be frightful, with the winds of change bringing many chilling worries, but here at Loyola, we’re wrapped warm and secure in the belief that we’re on mission and on task. We continue to aim higher, to ask more of ourselves, to provide the best to the deserving Loyola students, as you would expect.
Let it sneaux! It can be a challenge, but we’re ready to meet life’s challenges. I hope the next year brings a greater measure of peace and prosperity.