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Holding ourselves accountable in our equity and inclusion work

Dear Members of the Loyola Community,

As we take intentional action steps in our equity and inclusion work, the office of equity and inclusion has created a webpage where we can share some of the action occurring across the University. Our chief equity and inclusion officer, Cheryl Moore-Thomas, Ph.D., and I hope this will help you engage with initiatives that are underway, join us in envisioning a more just, anti-racist future at Loyola, and hold us accountable in providing updates on the progress we are making as an institution.

I invite you to visit Loyola's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Steps page, which gives an overview of our short-term, intermediate-term, and longer-term diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. The page will serve as a reference for us to see the progress we are achieving together as a University community.

During recent conversations around racism, one of the issues that caught the attention of our community was the name of Flannery O’Connor Residence Hall. Information coming forward recently about O’Connor, a Catholic American writer of the 20th century, has revealed that some of her personal writings reflected a racist perspective. The building names we use at Loyola should declare to our students—and entire community—what sort of values we esteem and hope to instill in our graduates. A residence hall must be a home and a haven for those who live there, and its name should reflect Loyola’s Jesuit values.

We are renaming that residence hall for Sister Thea Bowman, a Servant of God whose cause for canonization has been endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Sister Thea, who lived from 1937 to 1990, was the granddaughter of slaves and a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. An educator, speaker, and African American activist, Sister Thea inspired people to work to eliminate racism and work for justice and served as an important voice within the Catholic Church in the United States during the 20th century. She lived a life of great holiness, demonstrating deep compassion for the materially poor and those at the margins of society.

I am also forming a presidential renaming committee to evaluate all philanthropic and honorifically named spaces on campus. That committee will determine a process for maintaining and removing building names and develop a rubric for naming and renaming, leading a deliberative, inclusive process that centers our mission, values, diversity, equity, and inclusion in these decisions.

This is a time when reflection and discernment are particularly important to our community. We are trying to address issues of systemic racism, while also thinking of what we can each do in our personal interactions to make Loyola a more welcoming, inclusive community.

As Sister Thea Bowman said, “Sometimes people think they have to do big things in order to make change. But if each one would light a candle, we'd have a tremendous light.”

I invite you to join me in taking action in small and large ways to bring light to others as we continue this journey together.


Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.