Father Wild Forum answers students’ questions of university president

University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild takes student questions at Tuesday's Father Wild Forum. Photo by Ben Bunzer / Special to the Tribune.

Considering the contentious atmosphere University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild faced at the end of last school year with rescinding the College of Arts & Sciences dean offer, Tuesday night’s open Father Wild Forum was fairly tame in comparison.

Students took their first of two opportunities this school year to ask questions of Wild, Provost John Pauly and University Vice President Greg Kliebhan.

The three issues that garnered the most discussion were the university’s diversity levels, Angelo’s Pizza Restaurant & Bar potentially closing and the development of Marquette’s LGBTQ community.

Carly Nusser, a senior in the College of Communication, asked Wild what measures and resources the university and administration have put toward “fostering an inclusive community for LGBTQ students.”

“We’ve done quite a bit,” Wild said. “We’ve been in contact with Fair Wisconsin (an LGBTQ advocacy group). I also give credit to Student Affairs for the amount of things put in place as resources and programming.”

Wild also said he has been impressed with how Marquette has evolved socially.

“I saw the Gay/Straight Alliance morph into a great resource,” Wild said. “At the time, it seemed fairly radical. But now it’s fairly tame.”

This year, the organization will change its name to the Gender/Sexuality Alliance, as reported in a Sept. 14 article in The Marquette Tribune.

Wild said Marquette is slowly growing and making progress to provide a more LGBTQ-friendly environment.

“We can’t be the solution and savior to every problem,” Wild said. “Society is significantly changing. We will learn, and learn slow like in other areas, to live together.”

After hearing the news about Angelo’s, one student asked if Marquette’s accepted offer to purchase the property and business was an effort to remove bars from campus.

Wild said closing down the bar was not Marquette’s immediate priority.

“Long term, we wanted to control that land,” Wild said. “When that became available, we wanted to purchase, but not shut it down.”

Kliebhan suggested Angelo’s troubled business numbers played a factor in the sale.

“They (Angelo’s) were not doing well financially in that location,” Kliebhan said.

Kliebhan added that a lack of available alcohol is not among his worries about the campus.

“I worry about virtually everything on campus,” Kliebhan said. “I don’t worry about there not being enough alcohol to be found by students.”

Anahí Sánchez, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the material of her foreign language and culture classes was directed toward non-white students, and that a cultural “gap” exists between professors and students.

Pauly answered first and, as an example, cited a lack of diversity among the university’s faculty.

“For example, there are only two African-American male faculty at the university,” Pauly said. “There’s just two in the whole university. It’s just not good enough.”

However, Pauly said the university is doing lots to keep up with Marquette’s changing cultural climate. He estimated one-third of the faculty could retire within the next 10 years, and this would provide a great opportunity to invest in diverse hires.

“The complexion of the university is starting to change,” Pauly said. “We will continue to find better ways to hire diverse faculty.”

Watch MUTV’s coverage of the forum here at MUTV’s YouTube page.