The Rev. Robert B. Lawton, S.J., who led Loyola Marymount University during an era of significant growth and change as its 14th president, was honored with a Doctorate in Humane Letters during a ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.
Father Lawton, who was president from 1999–2010, articulated and pursued a vision of LMU as the preeminent Catholic university of the West Coast. Under his leadership, LMU made substantial investments in infrastructure and campus facilities, and he improved and expanded academic programs and initiatives on the Westchester campus and at Loyola Law School.
“Through his guidance, his love, and his devotion to LMU, he created a destination for learning and discovery, inclusivity and imagination, community and connection. He created today’s LMU,” said President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., who addressed a packed audience in LMU’s Life Sciences Building Auditorium.
LMU will honor Father Lawton’s legacy by creating an endowed scholarship in his name that will support underrepresented students, regardless of their religious identification, demonstrating financial need and coming from local Catholic high schools.
Father Lawton came to LMU from Georgetown University, where he was dean of Georgetown College, the liberal arts and sciences college. During his tenure, LMU built new student apartments; doubled its academic space with the opening of University Hall, an acquisition that was years in the making; and constructed the William H. Hannon Library, a world-class research facility and the academic heart of LMU’s Westchester campus. Lawton Plaza, in front of the library, was dedicated in 2010 in his honor.
The university flourished academically by adding nearly 100 full-time tenure and tenure-track professors, and LMU became a top producer of Fulbright Scholars. Father Lawton also shaped the student academic experience; under his leadership LMU opened the Bioethics Institute; established the top-ranked School of Film and Television; and welcomed its first doctoral program – the Ed.D. in Leadership for Social Justice within the School of Education. Additionally, Loyola Law School added the Center for the Study of Law and Genocide, the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, the Civil Justice Program, the Journalist Law School and the Sports Law Institute.
Father Lawton also prioritized diversity and inclusion by instituting a diversity scorecard project to monitor the university’s progress for equity for historically underrepresented students in access, retention, institutional receptivity and excellence.