Loyola University of Maryland welcomed the Class of 2026, the largest and most racially diverse class with the highest average high school GPA in the university’s 170-year history, during the convocation of new university students on Friday, September 2.
The class consists of 1,290 students, the largest class in University history with more than 157 students, 39% of whom identify as students of color. The class also brings the highest average high school GPA of an entering class at 3.66, narrowly surpassing the Class of 2025, which entered with an average GPA of 3.65. Additionally, the class broke records with 25% of students entering as the first generation in their family to attend college and 21% eligible for federal Pell Grants for financial need.
“I am thrilled and honored to welcome the impressive class of 2026 to campus this year, the first class to join the Loyola community during my term as president,” said Terrence M. Sawyer, JD, president of Loyola. “Each individual, with their strengths, experiences and understanding of the world, will contribute to the larger Loyola community, and we at Loyola are proud to contribute to their growth as well.”
Students come from 38 US states and territories, as well as three countries outside of the United States. The class comprises 37% of Maryland, the highest enrollment in the state for an incoming class in more than two decades. Of these, 70 students are from Baltimore City, an 84% increase over last year. After Maryland, the best places represented are New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, Delaware, Puerto Rico and Florida as well as Spain, Ireland and Denmark at the ‘international.
In addition to the incoming class, overall undergraduate enrollment is on track to include more than 3,900 students this fall, the fourth-highest undergraduate student population in school history. Loyola is also welcoming its highest number of transfer students in seven years, with 55 incoming students joining other classes at the University.
“We couldn’t be happier to welcome this historic number of students to Loyola this year,” said Eric Nichols, vice president of enrollment management. “Clearly the Loyola experience resonates with potential families. It takes the whole campus to register a course, and this year our university community has really outdone themselves.
New students read The evanescent half by Brit Bennet as the joint text for the Class of 2026. The novel addresses the multidimensional aspects of identity, community and connection, looking beyond the self, and the societal issues of racism, colorism, sexism and homophobia. Loyola faculty will incorporate the novel into classroom discussions and programming throughout students’ first year.
Mavis Biss, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy and 2022 Distinguished Teacher of the Year, spoke at the New Student Convocation. Biss specializes in ethics, German philosopher Immanuel Kant and feminist philosophy.
“You may not know anything about sociology or environmental studies, or statistics either. You may have read the Bible – or parts of it – but you have never systematically sought to understand the relationship between the human and the divine. You may have heard of Zen Buddhism, but you’ve never sat in meditation with a Zen teacher,” Biss told students. “The goal of Loyola’s liberal arts core is to transform you. The greatest compliment you can give your teachers is “I’m glad I had to take this course.” I wouldn’t have chosen it, but I loved it. So today I invite you to surprise yourself with what interests you.
New students will meet their classmates and experience college life during Loyola’s Freshman Fall Welcome Weekend September 1-5, which includes residence meetings, potlucks, small groups, discussions on common texts, sports activities and open days. .
Sawyer began as president of Loyola University of Maryland on January 1, 2022. Loyola will host a series of events celebrating Sawyer’s official inauguration as president on October 12.