The Phoenix sits down with freshly sworn in President Mark C. Reed.
In Conversation with New President Mark C. Reed
The Phoenix: We’ve met you through virtual video and emails. Is there anything that is not in those that you would want the student body to know?
Reed: Videos are a great intro, but they don’t necessarily tell you everything about somebody. I just would say, from my perspective, I’ve been around Jesuit education for a long time. It’s deeply important and meaningful to me. I am a product of it and, for the students of Loyola University, I want for them all the wonderful things that I have known and seen about Jesuit education for a very long time.
The Phoenix: Why did you leave Saint Joseph’s for Loyola?
Reed: The opportunity was there. I was not looking to leave Saint Joseph’s at all. In fact, I would be very happy if I were there today.
When this opportunity presented itself, upon reflection, there is never necessarily a good time to transition from one institution to another. Sometimes circumstances are such that you don’t get to make that determination. It happens.
It really was about this place and about where this place is and its history and its trajectory.
This is one of a very small number of universities that I’ve just paid more attention to.
The Phoenix: Thinking about the next five years, what do you hope to achieve at Loyola that you maybe didn’t achieve at Saint Joseph’s?
Reed: This is a different university than Saint Joseph’s, so I’m not really thinking about it in terms of the comparison. What I really hope, ultimately, is to approach this in a manner that I try to approach differently, which is, “What does this institution need and where does it need to go in the next five years? What is important for this place?” And the answers to that question, I don’t have yet. I’m listening and I have a lot more listening to do and learning to do. But those answers will come and that’s what we will focus on.
The Phoenix: Over the last five years, Loyola students have brought up a lot of concerns revolving around Loyola’s treatment of Black students on campus, Aramark’s food quality, raising tuition and the mishandling of Title IX cases. How do you plan to approach these important matters that are of highest concern to students on campus? Do you plan to meet with student organizations? Do you plan to meet with Aramark?
Reed: I can appreciate that there is a desire to have the president involved in whatever issue they want the president involved in, and I will do that to the extent that I can and that I am able. If people invite me to come to things, if I can go to them, I will.
What I have found in my career and what I have found already in the two weeks of being at Loyola, it is sometimes much more impactful to just be present on the campus and to watch and pay attention and listen and to get into conversations with individuals. I’ve already done that in the past two weeks. I’ve picked up lunch and dinner in Damen Student Center already, talked with some students in line going to a murder mystery event. Last week there was a fraternity/sorority event going on, and I talked to some of the people who were involved in organizing that. I popped in the rec center. It’s kind of how I operate.
I certainly will meet with the student government and I will meet with other student organizations and facilities and others to talk about matters that are concerning them.
In terms of challenges and concerns that students have had here, they don’t surprise me. They are not unique to Loyola. They might be more acute in some cases at Loyola than at other places, but I’m familiar with many of these issues, and I have worked on many of these issues. As long as we come to the table together with a common goal and see the best in each other and work towards a better tomorrow, I am optimistic that we can make progress on all of those fronts.
The Phoenix: What’s the first thing you want to do upon being officially inaugurated?
Reed: It has generally been my experience that that is not the best way to proceed. This is not an institution that needs a major action or decision that has to be made. This is a very good and solid university. Always have room for improvement, but we are an institution that is academically strong and sound and getting better, that has strong enrollment, that’s fortunate to be financially well-positioned.
The Phoenix: I know, personally, I love walking around campus and being able to pass Sister Jean and say hi to her — something students, faculty and staff didn’t get to do with President Rooney. So, we’re wondering, how do you plan to get to know and connect with students, staff and faculty that you wouldn’t usually get to see in meetings or around your office?
Reed: I’m going to be who I am. One of the ways that I really get energy and learn about the place is by trying to get out of my office. It’s not easy. There are a lot of constituents that I need to be attendant to and certainly students — whether it be graduates or undergraduates or professional students — are the most important constituency to me. That’s why we’re here.