Marquette University’s Board of Trustees announced today that Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., will lead the university as interim president. Wild, who served as president of Marquette from 1996 to 2011, will take over for Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J.
“I know that Marquette is in great hands, and I will happily work with Father Wild and the Board of Trustees to ensure a smooth transition and a successful search over the next few weeks,” Pilarz said. “I have enjoyed my time here, especially my interaction with students, faculty and staff.”
Father Pilarz will assist Father Wild with the transition while traveling back and forth to the East coast to care for his ailing father, which he noted in a letter to the Marquette community today. Father Wild is concluding his duties with the Wisconsin Province and will take over as interim president on Oct. 16.
Father Pilarz said last week that after 10 years as a university president at Marquette University and the University of Scranton, he was resigning to pursue other apostolic opportunities. Father Wild will serve as interim president until August 2014, when a new permanent president is expected to be in place.
The Board of Trustees also announced today that John F. Ferraro, Bus Ad ’77, will chair the presidential search committee. Ferraro is the global chief operating officer for Ernst & Young, responsible for the overall operations of Ernst & Young worldwide. A search committee will be announced in the coming weeks.
Dr. Margaret Callahan, interim provost and dean of the College of Nursing, will continue in her role as interim provost until a provost search can be completed under a permanent president.
Wild’s 15-year tenure as president
During Father Wild’s 15-year tenure as president, undergraduate applications to Marquette increased fourfold, from approximately 5,000 applications to nearly 20,000 for fall 2010. At the same time, he stressed the importance of access to higher education, significantly increasing funding for student financial aid and creating scholarship programs specifically targeted at underserved populations.
“I left Marquette for two years, but my heart has always been here,” Wild said. “As Jesuits, we are called to serve where we are needed, and I’m hopeful my past experience will help move the university forward in this time of transition.”
Board Chair Charles M. Swoboda emphasized that Father Wild is the perfect leader to ensure university operations continue smoothly during the search for a new permanent president. “I have personally worked with Father Wild and have tremendous confidence in him. I know that he is familiar with our senior university leadership team, he has a remarkable connection with our 110,000 alumni around the world and he is committed to ensuring Marquette’s Catholic, Jesuit mission endures long into the future,” Swoboda said. “Many members of the Board of Trustees worked closely with Father Wild during his presidency, and we appreciate his willingness to step in during this time of transition to ensure we continue to provide a transformative education rooted in academic excellence for our 12,000 students who call Marquette ‘home.’”
During his time as president, Wild pushed faculty and staff to consider what makes a Jesuit education unique and led the development of a university mission statement based on excellence, faith, leadership and service.
Wild’s ability to connect with alumni and friends of the university helped transform Marquette’s urban campus. He raised more than $800 million, including more than $200 million for scholarships and several eight-figure gifts that accelerated campus construction projects, including Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J., Library, Ray and Kay Eckstein Hall, the Al McGuire Center and Engineering Hall.
A native of Chicago, Father Wild is a biblical scholar. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1957 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1970. Wild holds a doctoral degree in New Testament and Christian Origins from Harvard University and has written two books and numerous scholarly articles.