LMU’s Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination Loses the Catholic Part: A Petition President Snyder

Dear President Snyder,

The Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination at LMU is supposed to be “a community of scholars who work in dialogue with the Catholic intellectual tradition by developing, critically examining, communicating, or otherwise engaging the rich resources of Catholic thought and imagination, especially as it is informed by Jesuit and Ignatian vision.” It was set up under your predecessor President David Burcham in response to concerns from alumni that LMU was losing its Catholic identity. 

Given this history and mission, it is surprising to read the Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination’s current “Message from the Director”, a screen shot of which you can find below. It reads, 

“The future is interdisciplinary. As a community, we are asked to embrace and promote a new surge of creativity in the sciences and the arts, so that this surge may extend into all areas of human activity. Not only the sciences and the arts are sacramental but also, they share a common creative process. Everything is in a constant process of evolution and change. The developments that are made in one area may sometimes have serious consequences for the foundations of theories and concepts in other areas. Each problem produces an energy that seeks to be solved with a new idea. But rather than looking for something truly fundamental, we often attempt to modify a problem without disturbing the underlying infrastructure. ACTI looks to promote unforeseen collaborations and unexpected ideas in new common grounds, like in a vibrant Academy of the Core. Such is our challenge in times of major distress but also of great opportunity.”

You’ll note that this message, aside from the word ‘sacramental’, has nothing whatsoever to do with anything Catholic. Likewise, the programming this semester (see screenshot below) entitled “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” has nothing whatsoever to do with Catholicism.  

All this is less surprising, when you look at the Director of the Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination’s curriculum vitae which I have attached for your convenience to this message.  The word “Catholic” appears nowhere in his 11 page CV.

Just to be clear, for all we know, the Director of the Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination may be a daily communicant who always carries a rosary in his pocket. He may have the charity of St. Francis of Assisi, the missionary zeal of St. Francis Xavier, and the corporal works of mercy of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  Our complaint is not about his personal practice (or lack of practice) as a Catholic. Indeed, we don’t even know if he is a Catholic. But what is clear from his CV and his fall programing is that he is utterly unsuited to be the Director of the Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination.

Your appointment of this Director is yet one more example of mission drift, lack of due attention to identity issues, or maybe even deliberate derailing of LMU’s institutional commitment to Roman Catholicism. 

We respectfully request that someone who is well-versed in the Catholic intellectual tradition and who will provide programming with actual Catholic content be appointed immediately as the Director of the Academy of Catholic Thought and Imagination. 


Pedro Diaz-Rubin, LMU Alum 1994

To support this effort, please sign below and circulate the link to this petition https://renewlmu.com/ by emailing friends and posting on your social media.  LMU’s President can be reached at 310.338.2775

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