Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., president of the University of Scranton, has been selected as the 23rd president of Marquette University. He will assume his duties in summer 2011, succeeding Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., who announced in March that he would retire next year after 15 years as Marquette president.
The Marquette Board of Trustees unanimously elected Pilarz at a special board meeting Tuesday. Marquette bylaws require that a Jesuit lead the university. Pilarz is one of the eight Jesuits who serves on the Marquette Board of Trustees, which he has done since September 2009.
In announcing the selection, Board Chair Darren Jackson said, “Father Pilarz demonstrates enormous passion for the mission of Catholic, Jesuit education and boasts a record of accomplishment, both as an educator and as a leader, that speaks directly to Marquette’s commitment to excellence. He is the right person to lead our continued growth as one of the nation’s top Catholic universities.”
“Marquette enjoys a national reputation for its pursuit of academic excellence and for the way its students, faculty and alumni live out the principles of Catholic, Jesuit education,” said Pilarz. “I have tremendous respect for Father Wild and the remarkable accomplishments of the entire Marquette community during his presidency. The opportunity to lead this institution at a time of such momentum and promise is both exciting and humbling. As difficult as it will be to leave the community I have grown to love at Scranton, I am honored to have been chosen.”
A respected teacher and scholar, Pilarz, 51, became Scranton’s 24th president in 2003, following his service at Georgetown University, where he spent six years on the English faculty before being asked, in 2002, to serve for one year as interim University Chaplain, a position that included membership in the President’s Cabinet. He was chosen by the graduating class of 1999 to receive the Edward B. Bunn, S.J., Award for Faculty Excellence, an award that recognizes outstanding teaching and service. In 2002, he was recognized by the Georgetown Alumni Association with the William Gaston Award for Outstanding Service. In 2009, he received Georgetown’s John Carroll Award, which honors alumni whose achievements exemplify the traditions and ideas of the university.
During his time at Scranton, the university has earned national recognition for academic quality, community engagement and student success, achieving record admissions and undertaking the largest construction projects in its more than 120 year history. Guided by a 2005-2010 Strategic Plan – Pride, Passion, Promise: Shaping Our Jesuit Tradition, Scranton constructed a new campus center, sophomore residence hall and campus green space. A new residence hall and fitness center complex and an $83 million unified science center are set for completion in the fall of 2011.
Pilarz has provided dedicated support for research by new faculty, developed the President’s Colloquy for Presidential Scholars, and established seminars focused on Jesuit education. The university’s progress has been supported by the Pride, Passion, Promise Campaign, the goal for which was raised in January from $100 to $125 million in response to its success. While at Scranton, he has continued to teach a course each semester.
“Marquette is thrilled to have recruited a Jesuit with Father Pilarz’s academic credentials as a teacher and scholar, his dynamic approach to change and growth and his deep commitment to the importance of the liberal arts in higher education,” said Mary Ellen Stanek, immediate past chair of the Marquette Board of Trustees who chaired the Presidential Search Committee. “I believe we have found in Father Pilarz a superstar who will continue the momentum Marquette has had during Father Wild’s tenure.”
Father Pilarz is the author of a book, Robert Southwell, S.J., and the Mission of Literature 1561-1595: Writing Reconciliation, and has written numerous articles on Southwell, an English poet, John Donne and medieval drama. He has served as a lecturer in the philosophy department of Sts. Peter & Paul Seminary at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and was appointed to the English faculty of St. Joseph’s University in 1994, before joining the Georgetown faculty in 1996. He was one of 38 individuals profiled by Ronald Shapiro in The New York Times bestseller Dare to Prepare: How to Win Before You Begin, citing his successful approach to fund raising and leadership as a university president. In 2010, he was awarded an Honorary Degree from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
A native of Camden, N.J., Pilarz entered the Society of Jesus in 1981 and was ordained a priest in 1992. He received his bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown University, and a master’s degree in philosophy from Fordham University, New York. He received masters’ degrees in divinity and theology from the Weston School of Theology, Cambridge, Mass. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in English at the City University of New York.
Pilarz serves on the boards of Boston College, Scranton Tomorrow and Scranton Preparatory School and as president of the board of Camden Catholic High School, from which he graduated. From 2007 to 2010 he represented the 28 schools that are part of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities on the American Council on Education Board of Directors. His professional memberships include the Academy of American Poets, the John Donne Society, the Renaissance Society of America, the Shakespeare Association of America, the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society, the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences and the Modern Language Association.
He is the son of Joseph and Joan Pilarz, Voorhees, N.J. His sister, Susan, and brother-in-law, Joseph Lappin, reside in Lewisville, Texas, with their two children, Carly and Joey.