Pilarz picked as next MU president

Darren Jackson (right) presents new Marquette President the Rev. Scott Pilarz with a jersey. Photo credit: AJ Trela / anna.trela@marquette.edu

Tuesday morning, Marquette was introduced to the Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, the man set to succeed University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild as president of Marquette University. The board of trustees unanimously elected Pilarz during a special meeting held Tuesday.

“I’m thrilled at the prospect of becoming the university’s next president,” Pilarz said at a meeting with the University Academic Senate Wednesday morning. “I look forward to doing everything I can to move the university forward.”

In early May, the committee developed a profile of what the new president should be, and Pilarz exceeded every criterion, said Mary Ellen Stanek, chair of the presidential search committee.

“[Pilarz] demonstrated a track record of success on so many levels,” Stanek said. “His commitment to students, faculty and the Jesuit higher education was very compelling.”

Pilarz, 51, has held the post of president of the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university of roughly 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students, since 2003. He will take over duties as the 23rd president of Marquette University during the summer of 2011.

“For the next nine months or so, my priority is to listen and learn everything I can about Marquette,” Pilarz said.

But Pilarz has already begun formulating ideas for advancement and discussing issues to focus on.

“There is a great infrastructure, campus is in wonderful shape,” Pilarz said. “But every president will need to raise money. Right now, it’s less bricks and mortar and more support for scholarships, financial aid and faculty support.”

During the meeting, Pilarz and the senate discussed the university’s shortcomings.

“Allocation of resources is a big issue,” said senate member William Thorn, an associate professor and journalism department chair.

Pilarz didn’t shy away from the areas in which the university can improve upon.

“I want to know everything about how the university operates,” Pilarz said. “Anybody can tell you what works, but I want to hear about what doesn’t.”

Pilarz said he is ready to devote himself to the presidency for a long time to come.

“As a Jesuit, I follow God’s will and wherever my work takes me,” Pilarz said. “But, I can assure you that nothing is more exciting than pledging my life to Marquette and all the students and faculty for as long as I can.”

Stanek said she was impressed with the level of commitment Pilarz displayed during the search process.

“He talked about dedicating his life to Marquette,” Stanek said. “His passion for the job was infectious.”

Under Pilarz’s tenure as president, Scranton saw record admissions numbers and the construction of a new campus center, a sophomore residence hall and a campus green space.

Pilarz also oversaw the largest capital project in Scranton history, a $125 million campaign included in the five-year strategic plan aimed at improving academic excellence, the campus community and facilities.

However, the decision to leave Scranton for Milwaukee was not an easy one.

“I had a lot of difficult conversations Tuesday morning,” Pilarz said. “I absolutely loved the people and the University [of Scranton].”

Faculty and students at Scranton were mostly caught off-guard by the decision.

“The majority of us were certainly surprised,” said Debra Pellegrino, the dean of professional studies at Scranton. “But [Pilarz] is a young Jesuit with great energy and vision.”

While they regret his leaving, students had nothing but kind words.

“I knew [Pilarz] since my freshman year,” said Rita DiLeo, a senior at Scranton. “Even though he brought about such big changes, he was still very approachable, and it wasn’t uncommon for him to know students by their first names.”

Pilarz’s pet bulldog, Jack, was also a fixture on Scranton’s campus.

“Some people may miss Jack more,” said Will Grogan, a senior at Scranton. “His apartment was in a dorm, so it was always nice to see him walking with Jack on the way to class.”

Marquette faculty were also enthused with the selection. Christine Krueger, an English professor and chair of the senate, said she looks forward to Marquette’s future under Pilarz’s leadership.

“In my view, the Rev. Pilarz brings a host of qualifications crucial for the next phase of Marquette’s development,” Krueger said.