Remarks of Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J. at President's picnic
August 12, 2013
Good evening, everyone. It’s a real pleasure to have you here for this picnic and to be joined by the 22nd and 21st presidents of Marquette — Bob Wild and Albert DiUlio. Their legacy is written across this campus and across generations of graduates and their families.
Each year, this is an evening blocked off on the Marquette calendar for the serious business of enjoying each other’s company, and for renewing the partnerships that transform the lives of students, their families, our community and the larger world.
As serious as we are about these things, we’re not going to take a serious tone here tonight. Even on a college campus, mid-August isn’t a time for long speeches. But before you leave here, I want to be sure you feel the energy and the urgency that’s flowing through this university community. And if you’ve ever thought of summer as “the quiet season” on a campus like Marquette’s, I hope I can banish that thought from your head.
After all, is this a quiet time in the world around us?
Not a chance. Our students are preparing for a world where information is nearly boundless and moves at an incredible pace. They must compete and contribute on a global stage. Preparing our students for this changing world — helping them become leaders and problem-solvers amid this complexity — that’s what keeps us up at night. That’s what keeps us energized year round.
And then there’s the question of how the activity of this university can address the challenges and inequities around us. That’s also something that really drives us.
All of these issues and challenges were very much on our mind, and in our hearts, during the incredibly rich 18-month conversation that Margaret mentioned — the process that helped our university community create a new strategic plan for Marquette.
That process identified considerable strengths for us to leverage. It also revealed the need for us to collaborate and to innovate in how we deliver the experience of Jesuit higher education, which itself is a very innovative 500-year tradition. Now, this plan for Marquette is serving as our guide as we move forward in exciting ways —as we strive to be as fearless in facing the future as Jacques Marquette himself.
Just look around you and you’ll see the signs of this restless pursuit of excellence. I’ll mention a few of them.
- Across Wisconsin Avenue, the oldest buildings on our campus are undergoing a complete renewal and renovation. This “historic core” includes Sensenbrenner Hall on the eastern edge of campus and Marquette Hall, whose tower is featured on our letterhead and other communications. These reborn buildings will be the new home of the College of Arts and Sciences and will become a dynamic learning environment, meant to enhance the face-to-face interaction that is key to the student experience here.
Arts and Sciences also has an impressive new leader —Richard Holz —who understands that the learning that occurs in his college is the heart and soul of education at Marquette. It’s where all of our students wrestle with life’s great issues and learn to think critically in ways that will guide them through life.
- To our west on Wisconsin Avenue, a major expansion of our Dental School will open in the next few weeks. This 40,000 square-foot-addition will allow us not only to increase our class size but also to build on the care we provide to 27,000 children and families in need throughout Wisconsin.
- I’m glad Margaret is here tonight because in addition to providing campus-wide leadership as Interim Provost, she is the dean of a college —Nursing —that is very much leading the way in pursuing our vision.
Marquette’s Nursing college now has one of the most innovative clinical education facilities in the country — the “Sim Lab,” which simulates a hospital experience right here on campus. The College of Nursing is expanding through its partnership with the Milwaukee VA and joining with Children’s Hospital to open two clinics in neighborhoods with shortages of care providers.
These are great models for how we can make a difference in the lives of students and in the lives of this community. I could mention more, including the trail-blazing efforts of the Law School to bring together partners from across the policy spectrum to work on key challenges — and to host the Marquette Law School Poll, which now has a full-time home at Marquette. And certainly the Aspin Center remains a gem of a program and a source of great pride for our community. Congratulations to you, Tim, for 25 incredible years.
Most importantly, I want to thank each of you for everything you do to help us create an innovative student experience and to improve the lives of those around us. We know that we are only able to pursue our vision and advance Marquette’s mission through the support and partnership of you and people like you.
In the end, it all comes down to our students. And I’m proud that a very gifted student will follow me at the podium tonight — Colleen Shandley who is about to enter her third year of an accelerated program that will allow her to earn both an undergraduate degree and a doctorate in dentistry in 7 years.
I got to know Colleen this summer while I was in Italy for a meeting of Jesuit educators. On the streets of Florence, I ran into some of her fellow students from other Jesuit schools. They spotted me wearing Marquette clothing. And after discussing our shared Jesuit ties, we decided to have lunch together.
The next day, after hearing about this, Colleen and two students from Marquette reacted with plenty of spirit and grit. They figured out where I was staying, left a gracious note and made themselves available for a delightful dinner that we shared. And that’s a perfect indicator of the drive I see in her and in so many of our students. She’s getting everything possible out of her Marquette education during the school year, so she uses her summer to get the most out of the experience of learning within a foreign culture. As I said, summer is far from an “off season” for the Marquette community. You’ll see Colleen’s excitement about Marquette and that the transformation she is undergoing is contagious.
So thanks again to everyone for being here, and please welcome Colleen Shandley.
Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., is interim president
Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., is the interim president of Marquette University. From 1996 to 2011 he served as the 22nd president of Marquette University. Under his leadership, Marquette has improved academic quality, increased and stabilized enrollment, and enhanced partnerships with the City of Milwaukee and community groups and in 2005 completed the most successful comprehensive campaign in the history of the university with a total of $357 million. Read more...