President Reed Shares University Updates and Future Plans at Staff Town Hall

Mark Reed addressed the university with the plans for the rest of the year.

President Mark C. Reed spoke about Loyola’s current status and future projects in a town hall with faculty and staff Monday.

Reed’s speech was the first event of the academic year bringing together the university’s employees. The hour-long meeting, held at noon in the Sister Jean Auditorium in Damen Student Center, focused on what this academic year will look like at Loyola.

After giving praise to the efforts of faculty and staff, Reed mentioned upcoming efforts to improve the university, including a new fundraising campaign and a campus master plan.

Reed said Loyola was ready to take steps to grow nationally and internationally, based on the university’s strong financial position. During fiscal year 2021, Loyola reported a total profit of $33.4 million, The Phoenix previously reported. Loyola also increased tuition by 4.5% this academic year, The Phoenix previously reported.

He said the best way to achieve this growth is through a fundraising campaign to attract philanthropy to the university.

Loyola has received large gifts in the past, such as a $100 million commitment by John and Kathy Schreiber to help students succeed, according to Loyola’s website. Reed said Loyola is “behind our peers” and “certainly behind our aspirants.” 

“As president, it will require an even greater percentage of my time — and I look forward to it — to take that message of Loyola to the external community and to our alumni, to our friends, to garner a more robust and consistent level of support for us going forwards,” Reed said. 

He said the university’s prospective growth wouldn’t be funded with student tuition, even as tuition is necessary for day-to-day operations.

“We’re not going to be able to do this, nor should we ever want to do this, on the backs of the tuition-paying students and families at our institutions,” Reed said. “That will be a part of our operation probably forever, but that’s not the way that we’re going to grow this institution.”

Reed said Loyola’s administration is working on a comprehensive campus master plan to determine how the Lake Shore, Water Tower and the Health Sciences campuses should be developed.

Reed said the campus master plan should refer to the university’s Strategic Plan, a set of goals and guiding principles meant to direct Loyola’s future, according to Loyola’s website. He said the campus should serve the strategic priorities of academics, student experience and resource development as much as possible.

The next fundraising initiatives and campus master plan are still in the planning and development phase, Loyola’s associate director of external communications Matt McDermott wrote in an email to The Phoenix. He was unable to provide any more details at the time of publication.

As Loyola looks to the future, Reed said the undergraduate enrollment cliff of 2026 is looming. Birth rates in the U.S. began declining after a 20-year high during the Great Recession of 2008, according to Pew Research Center

Reed said he has insight into the approaching trend as a six-year member of the board of trustees for a Jesuit high school. 

“You can see this trend already because, of course, the students in those institutions are four years removed from being students here at ours,” Reed said. “And this is real, and it’s happening, and we need to be prepared for it.”

He said Loyola has yet to feel some effects of the enrollment cliff. This is the seventh year in a row Loyola has seen record first-year enrollments, but the university needs to be prepared, Reed said.

“We would be fooling ourselves if we think we are immune to these challenges,” Reed said. “And therefore it’s increasingly important that we be aware of the context in which we find ourselves.”

Reed said the university has areas of potential internal improvement. Inefficiencies in administrative practices and dated policies can slow progress, he said.

Reed also said institutions sometimes operate as separate departments, rather than as a unified organization. He said the university will address and be open about Loyola’s divisional thinking. 

“We can’t keep the good news bottled up in individual schools or departments of the institution,” Reed told The Phoenix. “We need to get that news out broadly and we need to talk and communicate about the university. I think in ways we’re underselling ourselves.”

Reed said he’d like to see Loyola recruit more students from economically diverse backgrounds. Loyola placed in the top third of 286 of the nation’s most selective colleges in a ranking of economic diversity. The university tied for 100th place based on the percentage of first-year students receiving Pell Grants, according to a study by The New York Times.

The study, released Sept. 7, shows 22% of Loyola’s first-year students receive Pell Grants with endowments of $77,000 per student. Pell Grants are a form of federal student aid awarded to undergraduate students showing “exceptional financial need,” according to the U.S. Office of Federal Student Aid.

Reed said he would like Loyola’s retention and graduation rates to improve as well, even as its rates surpass the national average. The national average undergraduate retention rate for private nonprofit universities was 68% from 2019 to 2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Loyola’s average undergraduate retention rate was 81.2% in 2021 to 2022, according to Loyola’s website.

Reed touched on the current successes of Loyola entering the new academic year, one of the most notable being record high first-year enrollment rates for nearly seven years in a row. 

“We all have a little bit of competitive fire in us, so congratulations to the staff for setting a new record this year,” Reed said.

Reed also praised the Quinlan School of Business and Loyola’s “world-class” medical school, the Stritch School of Medicine.

Reed said the Stritch School of Medicine, one of only four Jesuit Catholic medical schools in the U.S., is a leader in attracting serious applicants and “graduating diverse and expert physicians and researchers.” 

Reed described Loyola’s distinctive Jesuit community as a “great strength” in Loyola’s journey to becoming a center for Jesuit formation on an international level.  

Reed said Loyola’s cultural incorporation of the Jesuit traditions of collaboration, inquiry, reflection and practice act as points of inspiration at the university. He attributed this to the substantial Jesuit presence on campus. 

When asked to deliver a message to the returning Loyola student body, Reed said, “It’s great to have you back. We miss you when you’re gone. You bring such life to the campus and energy.” 

This story was written by Maddie Franz and Melanie King

Featured Image by Austin Hojdar / The Phoenix

The Phoenix Staff

The Phoenix Staff