100th day as President
Nov. 11, 2011
Earlier this week, I completed my 100th day as president of Marquette University, a role that humbles and inspires me.
I have spent many of these first 100 days as I plan to spend the days ahead: listening to and learning from those of you who know Marquette best. I have especially enjoyed the occasions for extended interactions with you, our students. Through informal conversations, dinners I've hosted with student groups, the student reflection during inauguration week and the recent president's forum organized by Marquette University Student Government, I've found Marquette students to be amazingly thoughtful, funny, engaged with their educations and aware of the role they're preparing to play in the larger world. You inspire me.
I've also had a series of wonderful, open-ended dinner conversations with members of Marquette's faculty. The comments and suggestions I've received in these and other meetings have been insightful and helpful.
Again and again during these first 100 days, I have seen Jacques Marquette's pioneering spirit alive at the university that bears his name. Consider these examples:
- The College of Engineering has a sparkling new building where it is reinventing engineering education for today's challenges.
- Thanks to a recent state allocation, the School of Dentistry is $8 million closer to a physical expansion that will support more faculty research and an innovative, patient-centered curriculum.
- Last week, Marquette announced the largest independent public opinion polling project in Wisconsin history, the Marquette Law School Poll.
Highlights like these are indicators of a larger drive for new excellence at Marquette. How best to support this restless pursuit for improvement, across the full range of activities here, will be one of my priorities. Equally important is ensuring that a Marquette education is as accessible as possible to those who seek it.
During these early months of my time here, Marquette has also encountered challenges. In a letter to you earlier this semester, I outlined the significant changes in resources, process and support we've made to address issues of sexual violence. Then, last month, I sent you a letter about the Big East Conference realignment and other updates regarding Intercollegiate Athletics.
In the next 18 months we will be working toward the reaffirmation of our accreditation in 2013-14. I am grateful to Dr. Gary Meyer and all those who are already so deeply engaged in preparing us for our self-study and review. This process will involve approximately 200 faculty, staff and students, with input from many more. I am also pleased that Rev. Phil Rossi, S.J., will continue as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences through 2012-13, allowing us time to prepare for a new permanent lead of the college, which forms the heart of our Catholic and Jesuit education.
Finally, as I close this letter about my first 100 days at Marquette, I want to again draw attention to a facet of Marquette life that has clearly been a constant for many years: the practice of service to others. This fall has been brightened by the opportunity for each of us to rededicate ourselves to the goal of transforming the world around us through service. Many of you have already signed the pledge of service; I hope others will join us as we address the gritty realities and inequities that persist in our communities and our world.
This tradition is deeply Ignatian, of course. St. Ignatius saw our service to others as arising out of our gratitude for God's love and God's grace in our lives. So it is especially fitting for a time of year when our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving and gratitude, in general.
As I continue to listen and learn, I look forward to hearing your ideas and comments and to communicating with you in person and through letters such as this.
May God's blessings be with you and with Marquette University during this special time of year and in the coming days, weeks and months.
Scott R. Pilarz, S.J.