The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

EDITORIAL: Pilarz resignation leaves students asking why

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz /
Photo by Rebecca Rebholz / [email protected]

Friday night at about 6:30 p.m. University-News sent a campus-wide email with the subject line, “President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., Announces Resignation.” The 336-word email did not contain a greeting nor salutation nor was it penned by Pilarz. It simply informed recipients that Pilarz would resign at the end of the semester.

The unsigned email quoted Pilarz’s announcement to the Board of Trustees saying, “after 10 years as a university president, I believe the time has come to consider other apostolic opportunities for me as a Jesuit priest. I have made this decision after much prayer, discernment and conversation with religious superiors, my spiritual director and others whose counsel I have sought over the past three years.”

The unsigned email that quotes Pilarz’s announcement to the board, but no personal letter from Pilarz to students, starkly contrasts with his past leadership style of student interaction and relative transparency with the student body.

Pilarz has lived amidst students in Campus Town East since his inauguration and frequently invited students over to his apartment for dinner. This semester he is also co-teaching an English class titled “Playing God: Divinity in Plays” with Thomas Kiely, director of the Catholic Leadership Institute. He has a history of hosting forums to listen to the concerns of students, and has placed students on multiple advisory boards.

In almost every instance of groundbreaking university decisions, Pilarz personally emailed the student population. From Pilarz’s announcement about forming the new Big East Conference to his yearly poetry month emails, Pilarz has been nothing if not personable with the student body.

In fact, there’s even a page on the Office of the President website titled “Letters From Father Pilarz.” The page says, “Since taking office in August 2011, Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., 23rd president of Marquette University, has made a practice of sending regular emails to the Marquette community on topics of interest and importance.”

The page contains 39 emails Pilarz has sent to students, colleagues, alumni and the entire Marquette community during his tenure as president, starting with an email inviting students to get to know him.

“If you see me around campus, please stop and introduce yourself. I look forward to meeting you,” Pilarz said in an Aug. 29, 2011 email.

One topic of interest and importance to the Maquette community is left off this list — his resignation.

With a leadership style as personable as Pilarz’s, it is perplexing that he would resign with such little notice, especially without finishing out the academic year.

In his welcome back to campus email to student this August, Pilarz wrote, “Please know that your needs as students are at the heart of our efforts.”

Well Pilarz, right now, students need an explanation. You owe us one more letter.

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