University Presidents: Marquette’s leaders have left impacts on campus

Fr.+John+P.+Raynor%2C+S.J.%2C+served+as+Marquette%27s+president+from+1965+to+1990%2C+the+longest+tenure+of+any+president+in+the+university%27s+history.+Photo+courtesy+the+Department+of+Special+Collections+and+University+Archives%2C+Raynor+Memorial+Libraries%2C+Marquette+University

Fr. John P. Raynor, S.J., served as Marquette’s president from 1965 to 1990, the longest tenure of any president in the university’s history. Photo courtesy the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Raynor Memorial Libraries, Marquette University

Throughout its 139 year history, Marquette University has had 24 presidents, each of whom brought a unique perspective to leadership and all but one of whom were members of the Society of Jesus.

Presidents of the university are elected by the board of trustees. In order to select a president, no less than two-thirds of trustees holding office at the time must vote to confirm them. According to the board of trustees section on Marquette’s website, the board must consist of no fewer than 25 and no more than 40 members, with no fewer than five and no more than eight being members of the Society of Jesus.

Additionally, the board is self-perpetuating and must elect its new members. The university bylaws outline the role of university president as appointing university employees and officers, having the “authority to sign, execute, acknowledge, and deliver on behalf of the corporation, all deeds, mortgages, bonds, stock certificates, investment securities, security instruments, contracts, leases, reports, and all other documents or instruments, necessary or proper to be executed in the course of the corporation’s regular business, or which shall be authorized by resolution or other action of the Board of Trustees,” as well as the ability to purchase land on behalf of the institution, among others.

Prior to Lovell assuming the position in 2014, Fr. Robert Wild served as interim president from 2013 to 2014. Before that, Fr. Scott Pilarz, S.J. was university president from 2011 to 2013. Wild preceded him, serving from 1996 to 2011. Fr. Albert DiUlio held the position from 1990 to 1996, and Fr. John Patrick Raynor held the position from 1965 to 1990. Before Raynor, there had been 19 previous presidents.

Fr. Raynor’s impact on Marquette can still be seen today, most visibly in the Raynor Memorial Library, which is named in his honor.

In his biography on the library website, it is noted that Raynor’s tenure is the longest of any president in Marquette’s history. According to this bio, “more than half of the university’s 96,000 living alumni graduated during his presidency.”

Also during Raynor’s time as president, the university added multiple graduate and professional programs which include but are not limited to doctoral programs in biology, chemistry, English, history, mathematics and engineering.

Raynor’s presidency also marked an increase in the number of lay people on the faculty and in the administration, as well as their influence overall. According to the biography, “the university’s board of trustees, originally three Jesuits, was expanded to be a group of 29 individuals, including eight Jesuits and 21 lay men and women.” 

Campus also expanded during this time, growing from about 26 acres to about 80 acres, with multiple new buildings being constructed. Another major accomplishment during Raynor’s tenure was the Education Opportunity Program, which was established in 1969 and “hailed as a model for programs providing the opportunity for an education to low-income, first generation college students” according to the biography. 

After Raynor left office, he was succeeded by Fr. Albert DiUlio, who served from 1990 to 1996. Raynor went on to serve as chancellor of the university after a year of sabbatical, assuming the position in 1991.

During his time as university president, DiUlio created the Campus Town East and West university apartments. He also changed Marquette’s mascot from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles. The debate over the mascot continued into Wild’s presidency.

In an interview with the Marquette Tribune in 2015, DiUlio noted that, while there was some backlash to the changing of the mascot, “it was important we were respectful of people and, from my point of view, this was a point of being very respectful of Native Americans and being very careful of how we represented ourselves.” 

After DiUlio left office, Fr. Robert Wild became the university president, occupying the role from 1996 to 2011 and again as interim president from 2013-2014.

Wild was awarded an honorary degree from the university in 2015. In a paragraph about this award on the university website, it is noted that during Wild’s tenure, “alumni, parents, and friends invested more than $800 million, with $375 million in new construction and campus renovations. External research awards more than doubled, the value of the endowment increased 130 percent, and applications to the freshman class increased from 5,400 to 22,000.”

The Commons was originally named after Wild, however, following controversy surrounding his lack of action to prevent sexual abuse within the church, he requested that his name be removed in a letter sent to President Lovell and the board of trustees. 

It was also said in this university release that with his leadership, Marquette was able to improve academic quality and enhance partnerships with the City of Milwaukee and community groups.

Wild announced his intent to retire in a university press release issued on March 4, 2010. In this release, obtained from the Marquette University Archives, more of Wild’s achievements are lauded, such as the completion of the Al McGuire Center, Raynor Library, the School of Dentistry and Zilber Hall.

Following Wild’s initial time as president in 2011, Fr. Scott Pilarz became university president, occupying the role from 2011 to 2013.

Although he was only president for a short time, Pilarz made a noticeable impact on campus through his introduction of Marquette into the Big East conference and bringing in a new dean for the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts & Sciences. Additionally, funding for the 16 million dollar dental school expansion was completed during his time as president. According to Marquette Tribune coverage in 2013, there were few specific details given about why Pilarz resigned.

Michael Lovell, the first lay person to serve as Marquette’s president, assumed the job in 2014. Changes in university bylaws in 2011 allowed for a non-Jesuit priest to become university president. The current bylaws state that a “preference” is to be given to a member of the Society of Jesus, marking a change from the original requirement. 

While his time in the role is still ongoing, some notable recent achievements include the plan for the new Marquette business school, as well as the completion of The Commons residence and dining hall. 

Prior to assuming the position of president, Lovell served as chancellor of the University 0f Wisconsin-Milwaukee, holding that role from 2011 to 2014.

Looking at and evaluating the tenures of the university’s past presidents is crucial in understanding how Marquette has grown and changed, as well as in determining how to continue moving forward and improving the university.

This story was written by Grace Dawson. She can be reached at grace.dawson@marquette.edu.