From President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J.
If you are inclined to think of summer as Marquette’s “offseason,” think again.
Marquette is offering 340 for-credit summer courses. We expect to enroll about 3,600 students in them, nearly a third of our spring or fall enrollment. Independent study and thesis and dissertation courses drive Marquette’s summer population even higher.
Across campus, many research labs continue working at full tilt, reflecting a commonly held view among faculty members that this is a time to bear down on research and scholarship. The research activity keeps many additional students engaged, including those participating in the highly competitive summer research programs offered in biological sciences and mathematics, computer science and statistics with support from the National Science Foundation. Read the story “Summer research” in this issue to learn about the scientific problems that students are working to address before fall classes resume.
Summer is also a time to branch out, both geographically and demographically. There are faculty-led study trips to locales such as China, Estonia and Peru. And each year at this time, we welcome hundreds of pre-college students for experiences that challenge their minds and enlarge their imaginations — everything from the Engineering Academies to Upward Bound and the Summer Debate Institute.
Marquette’s tradition of productive, intellectually stimulating summers is a valuable one, a resource this university community is drawing on in new ways this year. That’s because, in May, the Board of Trustees voted to endorse Marquette’s new strategic plan, the creation of which has been tracked in previous issues of this magazine. In Beyond Boundaries: Setting the Course for Marquette’s Future, Marquette has a map to guide us through today’s challenges to the valuable opportunities within our grasp in the next five to seven years. See the plan at marquette.edu/strategicplan, and read what some members of the Strategic Planning Coordinating Committee would like to highlight in the plan in the “We Are Marquette” news section of this issue.
Beyond Boundaries sets very high aspirations for this university. To realize them, we need a sense of urgency. We can’t afford to take the summer off. If any of us has dreams of hanging a “gone fishing” sign on our office doors for the rest of the summer — or using one of those automatic-reply messages that says we are “away indefinitely and inaccessible by phone or Internet” — we should realize we’d miss a lot.
At the same time, every summer should have its share of quiet evenings on a screened porch or long weekends near a favorite body of water — in other words, prime opportunities to catch up on some reading. In that spirit, I will share a couple summer reading recommendations for you, as I’ve been known to do since I started my academic career teaching English.
If you appreciate riveting nonfiction, I highly recommend The Hare with Amber Eyes by noted British ceramic artist Edmund de Waal. Decades after his wealthy, art-collecting Jewish family had nearly all of their possessions stripped from them by Nazi occupiers, he goes in search of their truths and traditions and finds them passed down through the tiniest of art objects.
My other recommendation is A Thousand Mornings, the new collection by Mary Oliver. The renowned poet treated a Marquette audience to a preview of the book in November during the reading she gave while here to receive an honorary degree. With their rare gift for capturing the rhythms and wonders of the natural world, the poems of this friend of Marquette are exceptional summer companions.
Scott R. Pilarz, S.J.