An Open Letter

My Alma Mater, Loyola College, considered changing their name to “Loyola University” ten years ago. I suspect this had something to do with a desire to make themselves sound more prestigious to executives shopping around for an MBA. They’ve decided to revisit this now, probably because they didn’t get the answer they wanted last time.
This is my response.
To: Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J, President, and the Board of Trustees of Loyola College
Dear Sirs,
I was most alarmed to learn recently that the Board of Trustees had authorized its Executive Committee to move forward with the proposal to change the name of Loyola College to “Loyola University”.
While I can certainly understand some of the reasoning which might lead to the proposition of a name change, I think in this case, such a move is unwise in the extreme, and I am a bit perplexed as to how it could have moved this far without wiser voices prevailing.
I was myself a student at Loyola College when such a name-change was last proposed ten years ago, and I find it difficult to imagine that so much has changed in the intervening decade that the reasons raised against the change of name are no longer applicable or compelling. While it is certainly true that the graduate and professional programs at Loyola have evolved and strengthened in recent years, there can be no question that Loyola remains firmly committed to its excellence at undergraduate education in the liberal arts. Indeed, during the years I attended, this emphasis on excellence as an undergraduate institution was one of the most important traits setting Loyola apart among its peers, that, in strengthening its graduate and professional programs, the institution had not, as many schools choosing the title of “University” have, shifted its emphasis away from the traditions of a strong liberal arts undergraduate education. To my mind, the very term “College” imparts something that “University” does not: a firm understanding that Loyola is and remains, first and foremost, committed to undergraduate education in the Jesuit tradition of liberal arts, rather than, as is far too-often the case amongst “Universities”, treating its undergraduate population mostly as a revenue stream to support its professional and graduate programs.
Under these circumstances, one might interpret a name change as a shift in direction away from Loyola’s strong tradition of excellence as an undergraduate institution. But there can be no question of this; Father Linnane himself has said that, “The extraordinary qualities that shaped the Loyola you love have not, will not and could not be altered by a change in designation,” and likewise that the proposed change, “Will not signify a change in direction, mission or values.”
Furthermore, I find it surprising that an institution so founded on Jesuit values and informed as it is by Catholic tradition would be so quick to discard the weight of its own tradition. Since its founding in 1852, Loyola College has changed its focus, its size, the demographic of its student population, and even its address, but never its name. It is a name well known in the region and with a well-established history, and surely, in a school so well-reputed for its school of business, the value of name-recognition could not have been overlooked. It is decidedly strange to me that a name that both school and alumni have born with honor for a century and a half could be so easily discarded. As I was leaving Loyola College, the celebration of its sesquicentennial was beginning. “Loyola College” has one hundred and fifty-six years of history behind it. “Loyola University” does not.
Moreover, of the four colleges in the United States named for St. Ignatius Loyola, Loyola College stands alone in name. To intentionally take on a name that would reduce it to the stature of “One of the several Loyola Universities,” seems counterproductive. And while I do not propose that many would be especially confused by the name change, I should hate to think that the achievements of my beloved institution might be misattributed to some other school, neither would I find any credit in being mistaken for a graduate of one of those institutions.
In summary, while I accept that much may have changed at Loyola in the past decade, it does not seem to me that those areas overlap with the sound reasons that have already been put forward against a change of name. While the graduate and professional schools have strengthened, Loyola’s commitment to excellence as an undergraduate institution providing education in the liberal arts according to the Jesuit tradition remains firm; the weight of history and distinctiveness of the traditional name has, if anything, grown with the passage of time. And, of course, the emotional attachment of students and alumni can not have diminished for the addition of several classes of new students.
In light of all these factors, it is my most earnest hope that the Executive Committee will not be misled into an unwarranted and unwelcome renaming of the college that I and so many others hold dear in our memories.
Thank you,
Lewis Ross Raszewski Jr. ’01

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