Wild announcement prominent at ‘State of the University’

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University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild officially announced his intention to retire next year during his "State of the University" address in the Weasler Auditorium Thursday afternoon.

Thursday’s “State of the University” forum celebrated Marquette’s current strengths and promising future, but was overshadowed by news of University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild’s plans to retire June 30, 2011, or whenever a successor takes office, whichever is later.

Wild addressed a packed Weasler Auditorium, saying Marquette has great momentum moving into the future, making now a good time for transition.

“The timing of one’s retirement is always an enigma, but to me it comes down to the simple fact that the time is right,” he said. “I wouldn’t be leaving if great leadership wasn’t already around.”

“My successor will be inheriting a fine university and remarkable group of people,” Wild said, referring to Marquette’s faculty and staff, whom he praised during his speech.

Wild said he wanted to share this news in person at today’s address, but word spread quickly and the announcement was pushed forward.

He shared his “top 10” plans for his remaining time.

Wild indicated serious commitments to “raising boatloads of scholarship dollars,” continuing to increase undergraduate applications and completing the funding of the College of Engineering’s Discovery Learning Center.

Watching the basketball team in this year’s NCAA Tournament, being honored as “Season Ticket Holder of the Game,” and purchasing a state official Marquette license plate inscribed “WILD4MU,” were also on his list.

Wild said his time at Marquette has been an “experience beyond measure,” and there have many great moments in his 15 years.

As president, he built on established plans that were already in place, but he said he’s particularly proud of his accomplishments in fundraising and the creation of the Ethnic Alumni Association.

“I’m still around for the next 15 months,” he reminded the crowd.

The Board of Trustees will seek a Jesuit to fill his position.

Wild said his retirement plans were made known early to “give the board time for a thorough and thoughtful search.”

He entered and exited stage to standing ovations. Provost John Pauly said the thunderous applause showed the admiration people have for the work Wild has done.

“It was a day for celebrating and acknowledging his contribution,” Pauly said after Wild’s speech.

Senior Vice President Gregory Kliebhan shared Pauly’s sentiments, saying that working closely with Wild throughout his career has been a pleasure.

“I’m sad, but fully understanding of his desire to retire,” Kleibhan said.

Wild said his future plans are largely undetermined, but he intends to take to a sabbatical and continue with his pursuit of the Jesuit mission.

“We Jesuits do not suffer from an unemployment problem,” he joked.

Highlights of the “State of the University,” forum included:

  • Marquette’s Krueger Childcare Center will move from its current location on 17th Street to 500 N. 19th St. Wild said the building is a great improvement over the current facility and additional renovations will ensure it is a top-notch day care service for Marquette’s families.
  • A record number 19,600 applications have been received for next year’s freshman class.
  • The $25 million in annual faculty research funding is a new record for Marquette.
  • “Marquette is financially sound and stable,” Wild said.
    • The university’s 2010 budget will break even.
    • $7 million in additional financial aid will be made available for families in need.
    • Small raises will be given to faculty and staff.
    • The Discovery Learning Complex has close to $40 million in cash funds, allowing for the first phase to move forward. A groundbreaking ceremony on the southwest corner of 16th Street and Wisconsin Avenue is scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m. Wild and Engineering Dean Stan Jaskolski are expected to speak.

Jeff Engel contributed to this report.

Audio: University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild discusses his upcoming retirement during Thursday’s “State of the University” address.

Audio: Wild reflects on his time as president.

Audio: In response to an audience question, Wild addresses a few key highlights while at the helm of the university.