Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney and her administration continue to chip away at the unique edges that make the university the special place it is.
Rooney has taken Loyola’s unique student body, its campus amenities and the social justice-rooted and Jesuit-inspired experiences it offers and boiled them down to mere numbers on a balance sheet.
Just this week, The Phoenix reported the university is closing its English Language Learning Program, which teaches English to students who don’t speak it fluently.
Loyola decided to cut the program, despite the fact it allows a wide swath of students from more than 91 countries to attend classes on the Lake Shore Campus and lowering the barrier of entry for immigrant students and refugee students to go here. Instead of focusing on this, Loyola cited its profit margin as the reason for its closing. But this program offers more to Loyola than just money.
Loyola brands itself as being an international community. This decision shows the administration doesn’t mean that; it only uses that claim to entice prospective students.
This week, we also reported the university’s student-run pizzeria, Felice’s Kitchen, which sits on North Sheridan Road and helps students get business and entrepreneurial experience at all levels, will also close May 5. The reason? It was losing money.
Thankfully, another student-run business is expected to open in its place, but the cold corporate reasoning behind the decision rings true. Again, this is not just a business and it’s not just there to help the university’s bottom line. It’s an opportunity for Loyola students to get the most out of their time here, something that is hard to measure in dollars and cents.
In November, The Phoenix reported the university had canceled its annual Colossus show, a two-night event that often featured a big-name singer or band and a big-name comedian. While speculation can be made that Hannibal Buress’ conduct during last year’s show led to Colossus’ demise, the official response pointed to dry, corporate cuts.
The show only ever barely broke even, and for Loyola administration, that just wasn’t enough.
With Loyola’s Jesuit mission, money doesn’t seem to be as important a factor as the learning experience. So what if the event broke even? The satisfaction of students getting cheap tickets to see big-name acts isn’t enough of a profit?
Apparently not. The show won’t continue.
The Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) is downsizing its operations and trading in the number of exhibits it hosts for more event rentals. The university said the museum loses it $1 million a year.
With a loss like this, the decision isn’t completely unreasonable, but it comes in an environment of closure after closure of any aspect of Loyola that doesn’t make enough money.
These changes lead us to ask the question: Does the administration not consider these unique experiences as more valuable than the profit they’re losing?
As students, we’d appreciate an administration who treats this university as it should be — like a college, not a business.
Chief financial officer Wayne Magdziarz has said the university operates on a $600 million per year budget. Surely, they can absorb losses in some of these areas to keep these unique aspects of Loyola up and running? There’s a benefit that students get out of these experiences and opportunities that they wouldn’t do elsewhere.
With Loyola’s tuition steadily increasing and the number of students rising in recent years, the university’s income should be able to sustain these costs in order to provide a student experience worth the $44,130 per year.
These recent announcements of changes to our beloved campus cause us to ask: what’s next?
If the Damen Cinema doesn’t have someone in every seat every week, maybe the returns aren’t there to justify the investment.
If Ireland’s Pub 10 doesn’t see soaring numbers, maybe Loyola should look at closing it.
If the use of the rock wall in Halas Recreation Center isn’t seeing the numbers Loyola’s accountants hope for, maybe that space could be better utilized.
Much of the reason its students love Loyola is that it’s unique. This university has the potential to bring together a world-class education with opportunities you’d seldom get anywhere else. But if Loyola’s administration only considers its checkbook, we run the risk of becoming just another school and losing our Rambler identity.
When prospective Ramblers tour campus, see what campus offers and hear about the things Loyola offers not because it makes money, but because it fulfills our mission, they want to come. Instead, they see these opportunities going away.