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Summer in Review: Staff Exits, State Budget

Over the last few months, a number of key staff have left Loyola, while others ascended to new roles. Rogers Park continues to experience a face lift as a number of new developments move forward. Meanwhile, the Loyola community has felt the effects of some of the biggest news stories of the summer, including the Charlottesville protests, the statewide budget crisis and changes to national immigration policy.

Notable Ramblers take leave
As the 2017-18 school year begins, a number of high-level administrative positions at Loyola vacated over summer remain unfilled.

The position of chancellor, a largely ceremonial office involved with fundraising and promotion traditionally held by former Loyola presidents, was left unfilled when the Rev. Michael Garanzini, S.J. — a former Loyola president — accepted a visiting faculty position at Fordham University in New York in July.

The position of dean of students and assistant vice president was vacated in June after K.C. Mmeje left Loyola to serve as vice president for Student Affairs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The university also witnessed the retirement of Tivo, the university’s first on-campus therapy dog. He retired after five years of service and will continue to live with Interim Director of the Wellness Center Joan Holden.

Holden said the university plans to continue its therapy dog program.

Developments in Rogers Park
The development to replace the Woodruff Arcade Building — the nearly century-old building which houses several local businesses and was sold in December — was proposed in a May 19 press release. Real estate development group Edgemark Commercial Real Estate Services LLC, which proposed the development, named “Loyola Gateway,” said it would be a seven-story building with first-floor retail space and 58 residential units, according to the press release.

Businesses which leased space in the shopping center — including The Coffee Shop, Planned Parenthood, Style Zone Hair Design and The Mustard Seed Christian Bookstore — were told they had until the end of 2017 to vacate their spaces. The Coffee Shop shut its doors on May 15 and Planned Parenthood announced plans to relocate to Edgewater in June.

Across the street, the Concord at Sheridan development — which includes a Target store, affordable and market-rate housing, retail space and a new community center for the senior residents of the Caroline Hedger Apartments — gained the approval of Chicago’s City Council on July 26. Officials approved $2.2 million in loans with zero percent interest, according to DNAinfo.

Crime Still Present Over Summer
The tradition of gun violence during the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago persisted this summer. Eight people were killed and more than 60 people were wounded in shootings from Friday, June 30 through Tuesday, July 4, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Memorial Day weekend gun violence, which is also traditionally high, was down in Chicago from a year prior and absent from Rogers Park. Overall, five people were killed and 44 people were wounded in shootings in the city from May 27 to May 29.

Rogers Park did not go without incidents of violent crime this summer, though. On June 6, a youth baseball game at Loyola Park was interrupted by the sound of gunshots. Minutes later, Chicago police arrived and the game was called. No one was injured.

On July 26, an elderly man was wounded after being stabbed on North Sheridan Road near The Morgan at Loyola Station, according to the Chicago Police Department. The 80-year-old was transported to Presence Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston in stable condition. Neither the offender nor the victim were Loyola-affiliated, according to Loyola Campus Safety Director Thomas Murray.

National and State News Felt at Home
Nearly 400 activists marched to Trump Tower on Aug. 15 to protest President Donald Trump’s response to violent clashes at an Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville, Va. between white nationalist, neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate protesters and counter-protesters. One woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a 20-year-old Ohio man allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

“I was really not shocked by [the violence], but was just more disgusted,” said Loyola law student Erica Jewel, 24, who attended the Chicago protest. “It’s not that surprising that it’s happening, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything about it.”

Trump initially condemned violence “on many sides” at the Charlottesville rally and called out hate groups by name the next day after lawmakers on both sides criticized his response. However, he doubled-down on his initial statement the next day, telling reporters he had no doubt that there was blame to be had “on both sides” in Charlottesville.

Trump announced June 15 he would not abolish Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), temporarily allowing Loyola’s undocumented students to ease their worry about potential deportation. DACA, which was established in 2012 as an executive action under the Obama Administration, protects the children of undocumented immigrants who are attending school, serving in the military or staying out of legal trouble in the United States.

Illinois lawmakers voted July 6 on a state budget after more than two years without one. Ten state Republicans broke party lines and voted to overturn a veto of the Illinois House spending bill by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Funding for Illinois’ Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grants — which provides about $365 million in financial aid to Illinois colleges and universities annually — was restored after the grants were left unfunded by the budget crisis in fall 2015.

The state-funded program provides nearly $10 million per year to about 2,400 Loyola students. During the budget crisis, Loyola covered those costs. The new budget funded Loyola’s MAP grants for the upcoming 2017-18 academic year and retroactively for the 2016-17 year.

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