When my daughter, Johanna, attended LMU, she and my wife, Trudi, held the tile. Trudi and Johanna had gone to see a selection of antiquities curated by LMU Professor William Fulco, S.J. Trudi still talks about the amazing experience of holding in her hand a tile that Jesus may have walked on centuries ago.
Is it any wonder why I used to joke when my children were students at LMU that one day I was going to drop everything, drive down from our home in Seattle and join them in the great privilege of being a Lion?
There’s a tremendous value to a Loyola Marymount education. There is the career preparation, of course, and the ability to earn a living. There is the value of its diploma. But there is also the discovery that you are a human being of body and soul. And that makes all the difference.
The university’s multifaceted, holistic approach to educating the whole person is just one of many reasons why my family thinks so highly of the school — highly enough to become deeply involved with many of its extraordinary students, faculty, projects and programs.
My son, Jackson, is a 2012 graduate. Johanna attended for two years. I’m a member of the Board of Regents. Trudi and I co-chair the Parents Council. We have happily contributed to the Parents Fund and to the crew team, and we are currently endowing a scholarship.
While in truth I doubt I could drop everything and be a student again, my confidence in an LMU education is nonetheless sincere because an LMU education combines a very solid core curriculum with a grounding in the kind of education that prepares a student to be truly ready for life — to be productive and successful with whatever he or she seeks to achieve. I’m not talking here about purely financial success. I’m referring as well to fulfilling one’s potential as a whole person and living one’s life to the benefit of others.
You don’t find that everywhere. LMU is a special place. I think, for example, about how our Parents Fund gift helped support the 2011 Bellarmine Forum, which honored the school’s centennial by posing questions such as, “What kind of university will Loyola Marymount University be?” and “What will be the emphasis and the direction of the institution in the future?”
This type of introspection and inquiry is one of the consistent and remarkable factors that drive the quality of the LMU experience. This is the Jesuit method of going deep into a subject, learning as much as possible about it, looking at it from different directions and perspectives, and having all of that inform your point of view.
An LMU education bestows on its students intangible values that last a lifetime. And yet all of us need to redouble our efforts to increase the very tangible career benefit of possessing an LMU degree. This means helping students find their first job and providing alumni with improved ways to stay networked, involved and committed to assisting one another.
Each of us who cares about the institution also needs to ensure that LMU continues to be able to attract the same high quality of students, faculty and staff, and to develop the same facilities and initiatives that have defined the school for 100 years.
President David W. Burcham is well aware of the need to place a brake on the escalating cost of higher education. This is an issue at most, if not all, campuses in the nation. President Burcham has made it clear — and I strongly agree — that to help in this fight, LMU’s scholarship endowment must and will increase.
The scholarship that my family is funding will be awarded annually by the members of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon, in honor of William Fulco, S.J. He is another great example of why the LMU experience is so extraordinary. Jackson was a SigEp fraternity brother; Father Fulco attended every one of the organization’s Sunday night meetings and added a crucial spiritual presence.
LMU has always been home to a special group of people who see a bigger purpose for their lives. The value of an LMU education is incomparable, and all of us must do everything we can to help the university provide teaching and guidance to the extraordinary men and women we are proud to welcome and call Lions.