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Loyola celebrates Classes of 2020 and 2021 at Commencement ceremony

Commencement ceremony 2021 at M&T Bank Stadium

Loyola University Maryland celebrated the Classes of 2020 and 2021 during a ceremony at M&T Bank Stadium in downtown Baltimore on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

Each student was permitted to bring three guests to the 168th Commencement ceremony, which was also livestreamed.

A pre-recorded Commencement address was delivered by playwright, actor, and professor Anna Deavere Smith. She received a doctor of humane letters, honoris causa, from Loyola.

“The jobs you were hoping for when you hit the sidewalks or the airways or the roadways to your future may or may not be waiting for you, but you are needed,” said Smith. “Invention is needed. New ideas are welcome. Old ways won’t work. We have been used to a status quo which allows some humans to have power to treat other humans like objects. Women, people of color, poorer, people with disabilities, people with mental or emotional disabilities or challenges, immigrants, that status quo is being tested. In this light, I propose kindness as an anecdote. I appeal to you to foster hospitality wherever you go from here. To embrace the stranger to give the stranger a chance wherever you go. To require it inside the organizations that you lead.”

Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola, offered the Classes of 2020 and 2021 an encouraging, inspiring message to carry with them from the day. This was Fr. Linnane’s last Commencement ceremony prior to his retirement on June 30, 2021.

“Classes of 2020 and 2021, I am struck by your strength, your determination, your grace through uncertainty, and your deep friendships—friendships that transcend distance and difficulty,” said Fr. Linnane. “I hope, thanks to your Loyola education, you recognize that we face pandemics that are harder to battle than any virus—pandemics of racism and injustice and hatred that plague our society. In the months and years ahead, I encourage you to see ways you can help address those problems. You are ready, more than ready, Loyola Ready, to be a leader, a true Ignatian citizen, and bring about change in our world.”

At the ceremony, Mercy Medical Center and Govans Ecumenical Development Corporation’s Civic and Religious Emergency Services received the Milch Award; Thomas Scheye, Ph.D., professor of English and Distinguished Service Professor at Loyola, received the Newman Medal; and Rev. Michael J. White, ’80, pastor of Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Md., received the Carroll Medal.

“I’m a dramatist and for that reason I am fascinated with the things that have gone wrong, that are not right,” said Smith. “Even I myself am just a big mess like everyone else. And because in my work I look at what is not right, audiences have one question, Is there any hope? Anna, did you see any hope? Where’s the hope? My answer to the graduates, to the Classes of 2020 and 2021, even the parents, grandparents, guardians, siblings and the friends—the hope is you. You are the hope. Because you have an extraordinary opportunity to invent new things. I see hope in you.”