Oral History Project

The Power of Memories: Seven Decades of LMU Oral History

Reflecting back on his years at LMU, filmmaker Tony Bui described both the essence of his experiences and the importance of memory and meaning in oral history. "It was a beautiful time period in my life,” Bui noted of his undergraduate years in the 1990s. “In fact,” Bui continued, “when I graduated, I remember saying, ‘it will never be like this again’." Bui’s recollections come from the LMU Centennial Oral History Project, designed to capture and chronicle memory and meaning from past LMU students, faculty, and administrators. The collective stories harvested from these interviews are steeped in learning, leading, and serving, and reflect LMU’s longstanding commitment to its three core principles: academic excellence, education of the whole person, and the service of faith and promotion of justice. 

Spanning seven decades, the oral histories also make clear that LMU’s story is not restricted to its distinctive core principles, but is also reflective of larger historical events and trends. Individual recollections of life on campus during the World War II or Vietnam eras, or teaching during the ethically challenged 1980s, or of racial discord in Los Angeles during the Rodney King era, weave together a story that is both fascinating and inspiring. And then there are the recollections that are unique to LMU’s own institutional history: the achievements of athletes both on and off the field, the story of the merger of Loyola and Marymount, and the physical growth of the University with additions such as University Hall and William H. Hannon Library.

All of these elements combine into a collage that is historically oriented, but emotionally grounded in the shared experiences of the interviewees. So while Bui wistfully laments that “it will never be like this again,” the Centennial Oral History Project will, at the very least, capture some of those memories and in the process bring collective meaning to the history of Loyola Marymount University.