“Like many institutions of higher education in the United States, Loyola Marymount University wrestles with questions of religious identity. These discussions—at least as they relate to faculty composition—can now be better informed thanks to a recent “Faculty Climate Survey.” Of the 392 professors who took the Faculty Climate Survey, 94 (24 percent) indicated that they are Catholic. The percentage of Catholic professors at LMU is well below the standard articulated by Pope St. John Paul II in Ex corde ecclesiae
, ‘the number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the Institution, which is and must remain Catholic.’”
“This dearth of Catholic faculty will soon worsen, because the most senior faculty are almost all Catholic. In the Department of Theological Studies as well as in philosophy, Catholics make up all four of the most recent retirements as well as the two most senior faculty. In the history department, two Jesuits recently retired as well as a religious brother. In mathematics, four of the five most senior members are Catholic. In classics, in the College of Business Administration, and in political science, Catholics constitute two of the three most senior members. Simply to maintain 24 percent would require that every retiring Catholic in the university be replaced with another Catholic.”
If the status quo continues, what will happen next? As LMU loses more Catholic faculty to retirement, the “secular majority view” on campus will grow even more strident. The campus will be increasingly shackled by a pall of orthodoxy, secular Group Think. Tenured faculty ultimately shape the destiny of a university because they outlast Deans, Provosts, and Presidents. If LMU’s faculty composition is like everywhere else, the university will eventually be like everywhere else.
“Symbolic ties will probably be the last to be cut. Already, the change in our university logo from a depiction of Sacred Heart Chapel to the current logo, below, is not without significance. Our current logo contains, we are told, subtle religious symbolism. Indeed, the symbolism is so understated as to be completely unnoticeable to the untutored eye, a perfect icon for the future of LMU.”
“Sacred Heart Chapel will need to move into greater conformity with wider university culture. The Eucharist will be permanently removed so that the space can be used for theatre, concerts, and yoga. The final argument about religious identity will be about whether distinctively religious art should remain. A compromise will be struck whereby the pieces considered offensive—such as the central crucifix and the statue of Mary—are removed, but the stained glass windows remain intact, a silent reminder of a long lost tradition.”
The essay, “Is Loyola Marymount University Losing its Catholic Identity,” is a must read for anyone who cares about LMU. It contains not just bad news, but numerous suggestions for increasing the Catholic identity of the faculty. Please post a link to this essay on social media and circulate it to friends and family. LMU needs to act decisively and quickly to prevent a further collapse in the percentage of Catholic faculty. Now is the time.