Today, Loyola College in Maryland celebrates a milestone. Today, we become Loyola University Maryland. Since announcing our plans to make this change, I've often been asked why we are doing so. After all, Loyola College in Maryland has an illustrious 157-year history, an established reputation in the Baltimore community and beyond, and an alumni network with few rivals.
But we needed - and need - to do more, to say more, about the institution we've become and what we expect to achieve in the years ahead. The word "university" conveys a depth of intellectual rigor, a richness of cultural engagement, that has long been part of the Loyola academic experience. Here, students learn that the simple acquisition of knowledge is insufficient. It is the enduring search for wisdom that defines their education.
It is unclear to me, however, that the degree of intellectual and spiritual curiosity alive at Loyola is recognized as fully as it could be outside our campus.
In adopting the designation "university," we are now pledging to do more - to signal our commitment to ever-more-rigorous academic exploration, to more critical discernment and to an enduring search for the fundamental truths that will help our graduates define the principles that will shape their lives. We signal this commitment not just to our local, national and global neighbors but also to our own students, faculty and staff, without whose contributions we could not begin to live up to these expectations.
To be a university in the fullest sense of the word implies even deeper responsibilities. And to be a Catholic, Jesuit university demands an abiding commitment to the common good, a determination to serve the underserved and a dedication to values that promote civility and prompt moral reflection.
Throughout Loyola's long history in Baltimore, we've tried to be a good neighbor, an asset to this vibrant, complicated city. But there is so much more we can do - so much more we must do.
Two and a half weeks ago, Baltimore experienced once again - this time in Loyola's backyard - the tragedy of senseless violence, the sadness of lives taken too soon, the ache of hearts forever broken. At 8:45 p.m. on Sept. 10, three men were shot on Radnor Road, one of them fatally. The street lamps of the York Road corridor lit up bright yellow streams of police tape and the dark crimson of drying blood.
Loyola cannot be an idle witness to the continued violation of the sacredness of human life. A university does not stand at a distance from the challenges confronting its city. It engages. It works directly with its neighbors to address the stresses of modern urban life that too often breed mistrust and misunderstanding, despair and violence. These tragedies drive home the truth that each of us must embrace the responsibility to build a more just, compassionate and egalitarian social order.
I pledge that Loyola will do its part. We have no special power. We bring to this task no more than the firm conviction, rooted in our faith, that we must recognize the inherent worth and dignity of every human life. And we must act.
This is our gospel. And as we celebrate this moment in our history, we rededicate ourselves to carrying forth the word of the gospel into the action of justice. We will reach out to our neighbors, and we will make the case in word and deed that the most vulnerable among us are not a burden but a responsibility. They are our brothers and sisters. They are us. Humanity is one family.
As we remind our students, faculty and staff of the role they must play in this effort, we ask all Baltimoreans to join the thousands of Loyola students who volunteer to help the addict who is struggling to recover, the child struggling to learn, the victim of abuse struggling to find the courage to seek refuge. These are our neighbors. They are us.
Throughout its long history in Baltimore, Loyola has worked hard to demonstrate its commitment to this city. Inspired by the pride generated by today's milestone celebration, Loyola will now work harder. In particular, we will bring new life to the part of our strategic plan that commits us to working with the City of Baltimore to revitalize the York Road corridor just east of our main campus - the neighborhood in which the shootings of Sept. 10 took place.
To meet our obligations as a university, we need your help. Join us, starting today, and help Loyola University Maryland give back to the city that has given us so much for so long.
The Rev. Brian F. Linnane is president of Loyola University Maryland. His e-mail is email@example.com.