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Pilarz gives first State of the University address

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Fr. Scott Pilarz. Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/rebecca/rebholz@Marquette.edu

University President the Rev. Scott Pilarz announced plans to improve shared governance and implement a new strategic plan at Marquette during his inaugural State of the University address Tuesday in the Alumni Memorial Union.

Pilarz said these decisions, along with changes to the athletic director position and faculty budgets, were made in an effort to focus on the “big questions,” including themes of research, teaching, community engagement, diversity, inclusivity, transparency and Catholic and Jesuit identity. He also thanked the university for teaching him about Marquette over his term thus far and invited the whole community to share in what he has learned and will be learning over future years.

“As I see it, the work I do as president is always in dialogue and partnership with you,” Pilarz said. “I know at my core that’s the best way, the only true way, for us to move Marquette forward.”

But while Pilarz may still be growing in knowledge, he has begun implementing changes, which he discussed briefly in the address. He added the Academic Senate chair and vice-chair to his leadership council to help ensure shared governance. Also, Larry Williams, the new athletic director, will now report directly to Pilarz, the result of a recommendation made by a peer-review of the athletic department that follows trends elsewhere in higher education.

To address a need for a focus on research and scholarship, Pilarz said he had increased the faculty travel budget for 2013 by $100,000.

Pilarz said one of the main needs for Marquette’s future is to have more focused discussions on the university’s priorities, and then construct and implement a university-wide strategic plan.

Provost John Pauly and Fr. Pilarz. Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

“The discussions we’ve had to date about Marquette’s future were quite informal and open-ended by design, but they were, in fact, a very preliminary part of a longer process — the first step in identifying our hopes and aspirations for this university,” Pilarz said.

The first step in these conversations will be forums on the “big questions” for each university college. These forums are currently being added to the academic calendar for this semester.

Provost John Pauly said the forums, which he has been a part of planning, will be focused discussions on Marquette, looking at what the school does distinctively well.

“In part, that means that while (the forums) will recognize the value of a broad spectrum of academic programs that constitute Marquette as a national university, the processes and the plan will do this: they will reaffirm the centrality of the Arts & Sciences curriculum, specifically the Core of Common Studies required of all undergraduates,” Pilarz said.

Pauly said that while no immediate changes have been planned for the core of common studies, there will be opportunities to evaluate the core in the reaccreditation and reaffirmation process.

Pilarz also thanked the Rev. Robert Wild for his leadership at Marquette, adding that the number of admission applications at Marquette rose by 3 percent this year. Pilarz also said Wild rebuilt the university’s endowment.

Arica VanBoxtel, a junior in the College of Communication, attended and enjoyed the State of the University address.

“He (Pilarz) is really down to earth, and it says a lot about his leadership,” VanBoxtel said. “I also think it’s really admirable that in his first year as president he’s teaching a class and becoming part of the community.”

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