Greetings from President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J.
Joining the Marquette University community has been a whirl-wind experience, one that eludes adequate description. It began with watching the speedy metamorphosis of the serenely quiet campus into the wonderful chaos that you’d expect with the arrival of 12,000 students and their parents. After the goodbyes were said, students eagerly plunged into the rituals and habits of academic life.
We celebrated First-year Student Convocation in the Al McGuire Center. The event is the first and last time the Class of 2015 will be together until graduation, and I used the opportunity to discuss the profound changes Jesuit education will have on their lives. I was fairly passionate on that point, I’ll admit, because I experienced the profundity of the experience as an undergraduate student. And looking out upon our 2,090 freshmen that day, I felt an emotional connection to the journey they were beginning, when the choices and decisions they make going forward will determine who they become. I told them that change can be a sloppy process and rarely occurs in an easily described sequence. Being open to that process will prepare them in ways they can’t imagine.
Later in the week the entire university community gathered for the Mass of the Holy Spirit. This Mass is an ancient tradition dating back to the great Medieval Catholic universities of Europe. At schools like Bologna and Paris and Oxford and Krakow, professors and students knew to invoke the aid and influence of the Spirit as they embarked year by year upon their academic endeavors. They understood, as do we at Marquette, that the academic work ahead is potentially an encounter with God. We can use what we discover in our intellectual efforts to create a more gentle and just world. I wanted students to leave the Mass knowing that they will have a wonderful opportunity to encounter the world’s grittiest realities and work along with God to turn them upside down.
Amid all of this excitement, the university family of students, faculty, staff and alumni welcomed me as Marquette’s new president with a beautiful and meaningful week of inauguration events that included an opportunity to participate in a student retreat and to preside over a dedication of a new campus park. The week culminated in the inauguration Mass and ceremony, both infused with the energy and unquenchable spirit of Marquette. Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki joined delegates from colleges and universities around the country and my dearest friends and family in celebrating the moment that I had been waiting and preparing for during the past year. It was a great celebration of Marquette — who we are and who we can be. With your help, I hope that we can focus on two goals for Marquette in the years ahead: educational access and a relentless pursuit of new excellence.
We will also deepen our connection to the Jesuit commitment to be men and women for others in the coming year. In that spirit, we asked everyone present at the various inaugural festivities, our alumni world-wide, and anyone who is connected to Marquette through friendship to join us in using our gifts to serve our neighborhood and the world by making a personal pledge of service. We set up a website at marquette.edu/call-to-service where people can join the movement and tell us how they are responding to this call to service.
And now several weeks into the fall semester I feel enormous gratitude that my life’s journey connected me to Marquette. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and our neighbors have such great aspirations for the university, and they express a willingness to dig deeper and reach further to have an even greater impact. It’s our mission and calling to marshal the resources of this university to inspire our students’ imaginations for how they will change the world. I don’t think another job could compare to that privileged role. I know there is no better job for me.
Scott R. Pilarz, S.J.