On Wednesday of this week I spent a few hours on the campus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. The director of admission joked that what distinguished LMC from other campuses in the US is that Loyola Marymount is the only medium-sized, Jesuit university in Los Angeles. Which, of course, is true.
The older part of campus is dominated by the California mission-style church, and much of the rest of the older parts of campus share this architectural style. And even those buildings that deviate from this style are the same general color. The campus is on a bluff overlooking the city, and in some spots one can get a view of the Pacific. University Hall, however, is an interesting anomaly. Originally built by Howard Hughes, then later owned by Raytheon, and then purchased by the University. With over a million square feet, it is feels a bit like an office park, or perhaps a shopping mall. Itâ€™s a bustling complex, and the center of most undergraduate academic activity.
The freshmen live in some of the older dorms, but upper classmen live in some very attractive, suite-style residence halls. And a brand new library is under construction, which will be a fantastic addition to the campus.
The students can be best described as â€œhappy.â€ They seem to love their school, and most agreed that there is incredible school spiritâ€”among the “rowdiest fans in the leaguesâ€ (Pepperdine is the primary rival). The school offers Division I sports, so LMU takes sports seriously; as one student attested, the campus feels like a big school, but the class sizes reflect the fact that it is a small institution. The academics are serious, but the academic pressure is not so intense as to get in the way of a balanced social and spiritual life.
The University is divided into five schools: business, communications and fine arts, film and television, liberal arts (which is only humanities and social sciences), and science and engineering. There is also a school of education, which allows students to pursue a certification to become a classroom teacher–though students cannot major in English.
The student body is very diverse: nearly 19% of students are Latino, and 9% are African American. Fifty to sixty percent are Catholic–students are required to take to courses in religion. Seventy percent are from California. Despite the fact that I was there in the morning–when many campuses seem almost dead–LMU was a hive of activity. Lots of people were hanging out in the common areas, walking to and from class, and generally living up to their reputation as “happy.”
I came away with a very positive impression of the campus, faculty, administration, and students. Itâ€™s definitely a college I can recommend to students who are seeking an excellent, Jesuit, liberal arts college in southern California.
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