Fr. Scott Pilarz, SJ, Inaugurated as 27th President of the University of Scranton

“I love this place, and I am so blessed to be here with you” was the message Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., delivered in his Inauguration Address as the 27th president at The University of Scranton.

In his remarks, Father Pilarz discussed “our community, our core and our shared commitments” to an audience of nearly 1,500 in the Byron Recreation Complex on campus Sept. 21, emphasizing the sacred role played by teachers and the blessed atmosphere of a university as a place to search for and discover truth. He recommitted to dedicate University resources to the key role humanities play in a Jesuit education, announcing the establishment of a center for the humanities at Scranton, as well as the first leadership gift of $1 million from University Trustee James Slattery and his wife, Betsy, in support of this effort.

“The humanities and liberal arts are home to the great stories, and Jesuit educators have always believed that reading the great stories is the best preparation for a life lived generously in service of others and God,” said Father Pilarz. “In addition, they knew that the great stories teach you that time is a finger snap and a blink of an eye and that you should not allow a moment to pass you by without taking joyous, ecstatic note of it. In other words, the humanities teach us, don’t waste love.”

Father Pilarz also promised to raise funds to support endowments for scholarships and financial aid to students, as well as support for life-changing service and service trips.

“Our devotion to community, our passion for the liberal arts, and all of our commitments constitute a call to action, a call to think beyond ourselves in service of our mission for the greater Glory of God and world’s wellbeing. Ultimately, they are a call to love,” said Father Pilarz. “I pray today and every day that all of us at Scranton will be preoccupied with love for our students and for one another.”

“This is day of great promise for The University of Scranton. We have chosen you to lead this University community and to embrace, strengthen and further our mission. As you undertake the presidency, the Board of Trustees and the entire University community pledge our support and collaboration to work with you to enlighten the minds and lift the hearts of our campus, our community and our world,” said Joseph M. Vaszily ’95, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees.

The ceremony also included a surprise performance by acclaimed trombonist Wycliffe A. Gordon H’06 and the world premiere performance of “Don’t Waste Love,” which was composed by Joshua Rosenblum and commissioned especially for Father Pilarz’s Inauguration as the University’s 27th president. Rosenblum conducted the piece, which was performed by the University’s Concert Band and Concert Choir. 

Father Pilarz served as Scranton’s 24th president from 2003 to 2011, becoming the fifth longest-serving president at Scranton and third longest-serving Jesuit president. During his first tenure as president, the University earned national recognition for academic quality, community engagement and student success, achieving then record admissions and undertaking the largest construction projects in its history. He expanded international mission and service opportunities and programs to enhance its Catholic and Jesuit identity. Transformational capital projects included the 180,000-square-foot Patrick and Margaret DeNaples Center; the 108,000-square-foot Christopher and Margaret Condron Hall; the John and Jacquelyn Dionne Campus Green; the expansion of the Retreat Center at Chapman Lake, the 189,000-square-foot apartment and fitness complex on Mulberry Street; and the 200,000-square-foot Loyola Science Center.

Other accomplishments included dedicated support for research by new faculty, the President’s Colloquy for Presidential Scholars, and five endowed chairs to attract top scholars. The University’s progress was supported by the Pride, Passion, Promise Campaign, the most ambitious capital campaign in the University’s history, surpassing its $125 million fundraising goal.

As a scholar, Father Pilarz has delivered numerous papers at scholarly conferences on various aspects of medieval and Renaissance literature. He has also lectured and published on topics related to Jesuit education. His book, Robert Southwell, S.J., and the Mission of Literature 1561-1595: Writing Reconciliation, was published by Ashgate Press. A quote of St. Southwell’s, “Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live,” is engraved above a prominent entrance to the DeNaples Center. These words were also incorporated into the theme of Father Pilarz’s Inauguration as well: “Where I Love, I Live.”

Source: The University of Scranton

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