Saturday, June 19, 2010
Loyola University honored me with its Dux Academicus award for 2009 at the January convocation. The award is given annually to a faculty member who “is able to impart the knowledge and wisdom of the humanities, sciences or the professions to students in a manner consistent with the unique philosophy of Loyola University New Orleans as a Jesuit institution of higher education.” My response--I was alloted two minutes--was the following:
I am greatly honored – and the moreso because I so admire and respect those of our colleagues whom I have watched come up here in the past to accept the Dux Academicus. I am in awe of that company.
To be singled out when there are so many of you merit this award, is humbling.
And to be recognized for outstanding teaching, scholarship and service in a Jesuit institution makes the moment golden.
I have been with the Jesuits, on both sides of the desk, for nearly 60 years all told—from that time when they wore those forbidding black cassocks to now, when we might occasionally spot a Jesuit on campus in pink button-down shirt and Madras Bermuda shorts. At one time, I had the temerity to think I might be one of them and entered a novitiate. I lasted until lent.
Though the Jesuits are fewer now than when they wore the black robes, their ideas are still the palpable soul of this campus. Justin Nystrom, of the history department, and I walked together from the parking garage to Bobet Monday morning, and I asked him how he had enjoyed his first semester of teaching here. Justin said, “it’s nice to be at a place with a broader vision.” And indeed it is--after his one semester or my fifty-seven.
It occurred to me long ago that we lay faculty who are privileged to be associated with the Jesuits absorb at least some of their characteristics, to our students’ benefit: that purposeful, spiritually driven striving to form young men and women, intellectually and morally, who will leave Loyola—to paraphrase Cardinal Newman—fit for the world.
My wife, Kathy, also a Jesuit university graduate, and I have five children, and we sent each of them to Loyola--not just because the price was right--though the price was right--but because we knew that this faculty, you with your broader vision, would do an outstanding job of educating them in the Jesuit tradition. We were not disappointed.
It is an honor, in itself, to be associated with you.