Loyola welcomes largest, most diverse class in school history
| By Andrew Aldrich
Loyola University Maryland welcomed the Class of 2026, the largest, most racially diverse class with the highest average high school GPA in the University’s 170-year history, at the University’s New Student Convocation on Friday, Sept. 2.
The class consists of 1,290 students, the largest class in University history by more than 157 students, with 39% self-identifying as students of color. The class also brings the highest average high school GPA of an incoming class at 3.66, just surpassing the Class of 2025, which entered with an average GPA of 3.65. In addition, the class broke records with 25% of students entering as the first generation in their families to attend college and 21% eligible for Federal Pell Grants for financial need.
“I’m excited and humbled to welcome the impressive Class of 2026 to campus this year, the first class to join the Loyola community during my tenure as president,” said Terrence M. Sawyer, J.D., president of Loyola. “Each individual—with their strengths, experiences, and understandings of the world—will contribute to Loyola’s wider community, and we’re proud at Loyola to contribute to their growth as well.”
Students come from 38 states and U.S. territories, along with three countries outside the U.S. The Class includes 37% from Maryland, the largest in-state enrollment for an incoming class in more than two decades. Of those, 70 students come from Baltimore City, an 84% increase over last year. After Maryland, the top places represented are New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, Delaware, Puerto Rico, and Florida as well as Spain, Ireland, and Denmark internationally.
In addition to the incoming class, overall undergraduate enrollment is on pace to comprise more than 3,900 students this fall—the fourth highest undergraduate student population in school history. Loyola is also welcoming its largest number of transfer students in seven years, with 55 incoming students joining the University’s other classes.
“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome this historic number of students to Loyola this year,” said Eric Nichols, vice president of enrollment management. “It’s clear the Loyola experience is resonating with prospective families. It takes the entire campus to enroll a class, and this year our campus community really outdid themselves.”
The new students have read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet as the common text for the Class of 2026. The novel addresses the multidimensional aspects of identity, community and connection, looking beyond the self, and societal issues of racism, colorism, sexism, and homophobia. Loyola’s faculty will integrate the novel into class discussions and programming throughout the students’ first year.
Mavis Biss, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy and 2022 Distinguished Teacher of the Year, spoke at the New Student Convocation. Biss specializes in ethics, German philosopher Immanuel Kant, and feminist philosophy.
“You may not know anything about sociology or environmental studies, or statistics either. You may have read the Bible—or parts of it—but never systematically grappled with how to understand the relationship between the human and the divine. You may have heard of Zen Buddhism, but never sat in meditation with a Zen teacher,” Biss told the students. “The point of Loyola’s liberal arts core is to transform you. The biggest compliment you can give your professors is ‘I am glad I had to take this class. I wouldn’t have chosen it, but I loved it.’ So, today, I invite you to surprise yourself with what you become interested in.”
The new students will meet their classmates and learn about college life at Loyola’s first-year fall welcome weekend Sept. 1 to 5, which includes residence hall meetings, shared meals, small group meetings, common text discussions, athletic activities, and academic open houses.
Sawyer began as president of Loyola University Maryland on Jan. 1, 2022. Loyola will hold a series of events celebrating Sawyer’s formal inauguration as president on Oct. 12.