Letter: Dear Loyola Community


Sidney Ovrom

Photo credit: Sidney Ovrom

Tania Tetlow

Author’s note: The editors of The Maroon invited me to share thoughts on the beginning of my presidency, which allows me a welcome opportunity to process an intense two weeks.

Dear Loyola community,

Like many of our incoming students, I have spent time this past week simply finding my way around campus and meeting the people who bring it to life. Some of it I already know well because I grew up nearby — my father taught here and my mom went to law school at Loyola at night. But there is still much for me to learn. More than one person has stopped and unsuccessfully asked me for directions.

Also like you, I spend my days in hours of “classroom” time, only mine are meetings about budget, student life, admissions, academics, and all of the complexity of running a university. I find myself trying to balance the immediate with the long-term. How do we get our students quickly and safely acclimated this week? But also, who do we want to be fifty years from now?

I know that this will be a job full of spreadsheets, but also inspiration. I want to stay rooted in realities, while constantly reaching for the more. I will be counting on you, the Loyola community, to work with me on the tough issues that face us and to share your ideas and aspirations on how to address them.

Already, I have seen that Loyola is a community of innovators. This week, students, faculty, and staff have worked together to tackle large challenges, including issues tied to financial aid and work study assignments, meal plans, and the logistics associated with the arrival of thousands of students. You have helped us identify problems and solve them quickly.

There is nothing quite like the power of creative problem solving fueled by Jesuit mission. As just one example, I have watched my colleagues and students work to address the crucial issue of food insecurity on our campus. Through the compassion of our community, Loyola created a temporary food pantry located in the CMFA box office and is working on plans for a more comprehensive and permanent solution.

My favorite part of the job thus far has been to engage with students. I have spoken to many of you in small interactions across campus, on move-in day, at the pep rally. I have already learned that you come from all over the world, that you belong to an astonishing array of clubs and sports and activities, and that you love this community. (I have also gotten some strange looks from those of you who do not yet recognize me and wonder why I am being so friendly.)

I spent an hour with the Maroon editorial board and was thoroughly impressed with their insightful questions and passion for seeking the truth in answers. With a heritage of almost one hundred years of remarkable journalism (and ranked No. 7 in the country!), I know that the Maroon will both work with me and hold me accountable. I look forward to it.

As you begin your classes this week, just know how envious I am — I wish I could join you. Loyola’s faculty are passionate and devoted teachers who brag constantly about all of you. They are also renowned scholars and researchers, asking crucial questions, solving critical problems.

At the end of a long day, I go home at night to my family and play with my six-year old daughter, Lucy. Her job is to keep my head from swelling, because she is entirely unimpressed by the trappings of a university presidency. After she goes to bed, I have been reading about the history of Loyola, to understand its roots and its culture, its particular version of the Jesuit mission.

Loyola has a rich history, full of triumphs and struggles, exploration, growth, and a commitment to excellence, as well as near-constant efforts to open doors wider and to engage with the world around us. I look forward to working with you to carry that story forward.

Thank you for walking on this journey alongside me.