August 3, 2021

SoFi Commencement Marks the Start of Post-Pandemic Life

By Joseph Wakelee-Lynch

Share this story

Two LMU events that occur without fail every year are unusually noteworthy in 2021: Commencement and the start of the new academic year. Both are testimony to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on almost all aspects of modern life.

LMU’s 109th Commencement Exercises, on July 31, are unprecedented in almost every way. This year’s events bring together the undergraduate and graduate classes of 2020 and 2021, as well as the LMU Loyola Law School classes of both years. With SoFi Stadium as the venue, Commencement takes place in L.A.’s newest state-of-the-art athletic and events venue. Built by Los Angeles Rams owner and chairman E. Stanley Kroenke, the stadium is home to the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, and it will host Super Bowl LVI in 2022 as well as the opening and closing ceremonies of the summer 2028 Olympic Games.

Emceeing the occasion is Vin Scully, former broadcaster for the Los Angeles Dodgers and one of the city’s most revered public figures (see opposite page). With a Jesuit education of his own and being a parent and grandparent to several alumni, Scully is no stranger to LMU. The 2021 Commencement speaker, Viola Davis, who played the title role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” has won an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy, two Tony Awards, NAACP Image Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Davis has long been involved with efforts for justice, from supporting the Black Lives Matter movement to fighting hunger and helping to open doors for other Black female actors.

If Commencement 2021 symbolizes the disruption of the pandemic, the return to campus in fall 2021 may represent a long-anticipated resumption of university life. After a limited, staged reopening of some campus resources in March 2021 and a phased return of some faculty and staff during the summer, LMU will welcome students for in-person instruction, co-curricular programs, support services, and campus housing at full capacity. Classes begin on Aug. 30.

“Since March of 2020, many people across LMU have worked diligently to ensure our campus remains COVID-safe and aligned with L.A. County Public Health protocols,” says Devra Schwartz, vice president of campus safety and security. “We are ready, and so excited to welcome students back.”

Throughout the course of the pandemic, LMU has closely adhered to all public health and Cal/OSHA guidelines and safety protocols, and safety and health precautions will remain a high priority.