A Learning-Centered Community
By choosing the theme of a “learning-centered community,” we mean to say that the next decade at Loyola will be one where students become ever more central to every aspect of the life of the university.
In the classroom, students will be inspired by faculty who will even further engage them in the Ignatian tradition of education, learning through context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation. In this model, faculty members will act as facilitators of knowledge rather than merely lecturers, and students will be challenged to explain answers rather than just “give” them. Students will be challenged to learn not just what to think, but how to think.
Both in and out of the classroom, students will learn to live the magis in their work and in their lives. A learning-centered community in this Jesuit sense embraces the notion that the development of meaning in one’s life is critical preparation for action. Putting students first will allow us to focus on the individual development of each Loyola student, in the spirit of cura personalis. The ultimate goal is for students to become productive and compassionate participants in a complex world, able to care for both themselves and those around them—locally, nationally, and globally.
The success of our students depends upon the quality and commitment of the faculty and staff who guide them in this educational endeavor. It is therefore essential that Loyola continue to recruit and retain high quality faculty and staff by increasing support for their development in areas where we can best serve our students.
In the end, if we are able to graduate students who both find careers about which they are excited and personal lives that they find enriching, then we will have wholly fulfilled our promise to our students and their families: Loyola is a place where students learn the creativity and courage to choose what they become.
The four overarching strategies embody specific aspects of this learning-centered perspective that we believe can benefit from focused attention:
Dedicated to a high-quality, experiential, and values-based education
This is obviously at the heart of what we do as a university, and from that perspective is arguably not new. In the spirit of the magis, however, we can strive to do more and do better. Here we focus on experiential learning, especially specific high-impact practices, and the care of the whole student, including co-curricular programs and
academic support. These are aspects of higher education that are popular in many quarters, but they flow naturally from our Jesuit mission, and they build on strengths that we already have. At the same time, they acknowledge changes in our student population.
Devoted to students’ discovery of their career and a life of service
Our roots are in the liberal arts, but Loyola has always sought to balance the ideals of liberal education and the realities of career preparation. We want our students to think about more than a paycheck, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need that paycheck. The value proposition of a Loyola education can in many ways be most strongly seen here, by what our students go on to do and who they become. Helping them find the fullness of their various callings is the job not only of a strong Career Services Center, but also of faculty advisors, alumni, and indeed the whole campus community.
Infused by the cultures and traditions of New Orleans
Much of what makes us truly distinctive comes from our physical location. New Orleans is a unique city, an international port with long historical roots. Widely touted as the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans had an opera house before New York did, and that cultural diversity plays out in every medium, from visual arts to food. More recently, Louisiana has overtaken Los Angeles as a center of filmmaking. All this and more makes Loyola an ideal place for students from all over the country and beyond to come learn about the world, and about themselves. We are firmly embedded in our community, but we can enhance that commitment, market it more effectively, and bring our students more strongly into the rich cultural gumbo that is our home.
Rooted in the Jesuit and Catholic mission of the University
In a very real sense, mission underpins the first three strategic initiatives, so it could be argued that no more needs to be said on the subject. In true Jesuit fashion, however, we want to be intentional about the formation of students, and indeed all members of our community. The action plans articulated here make explicit a commitment to our mission that is implicit elsewhere and ensure that conversations about mission take place at every level of our campus.
The substance of these four overarching strategies is not new to Loyola, nor do these strategies encompass the entirety of the learning-centered community they represent. For instance, innovative teaching and experiential learning can be found in many parts of our campus, from first-year seminars to core major courses to capstone experiences and graduate seminars. Moreover, the scholarship and creative work engaged in by faculty often has a close relationship to their work with students in and out of the classroom. By choosing specific areas for attention, the strategic plan does not deny the value of others, but we hope the work done in these areas will enhance those others as well.