Brian Dorrington, senior director of university communication, said Pilarz announced his intentions to resign to the Board of Trustees Thursday while in Washington, D.C., for the 25th anniversary of the Les Aspin Center for Government.
“He specifically noted that after 10 years as a university president, he was looking to start a new chapter in his life,” Dorrington said. “And so that’s what we kind of have learned, and now of course we will turn our focus to the future.”
“We will have a search for a new president immediately,” he continued, “and certainly it is also important for me to point out that we at the university are appreciative that Father Pilarz shared this news with us at this time because that leaves us enough time to have a new president in place by the 2014-15 academic year.”
According to the emailed statement today, Pilarz told the Board of Trustees that “I believe the time has come to consider other apostolic opportunities for me as a Jesuit priest. I have made this decision after much prayer, discernment and conversation with religious superiors, my spiritual director and others whose counsel I have sought over the past three years.”
Pilarz will remain university president until Dec. 14, the end of the 2013-2014 fall semester, but the university is beginning the search process for a new, permanent president immediately.
Charles Swoboda, chair of the Board of Trustees, is leading the search for a new president.
“We thank Father Pilarz for his accomplishments and dedication to Marquette, its faculty and most of all, its students,” Swoboda said in the emailed statement. “I take immense pride and responsibility for ensuring the mission and innovative spirit of our Catholic, Jesuit tradition continues well into the future. As chair of our board, I assure you that I will work closely with our Board of Trustees and university leadership to map out a transition plan for our future success.”
Pilarz, who replaced the Rev. Robert A. Wild as university president in August 2011, previously served as the president of the University of Scranton for eight years. He was elected to Marquette’s Board of Trustees in 2009.
Marquette Student Government released a statement tonight in which the organization said it was surprised to hear of Pilarz’s resignation.
“I’m just as surprised as everyone else,” said Sam Schultz, president of MUSG. “(The university email) was the first I’ve heard of this.”
Dorrington said he did not have any additional information about the rationale behind Pilarz’s decision.
“All we know is that after 10 years of being a university president, he was going to take some time to reflect on what the next way he’ll serve as a Jesuit priest will be,” Dorrington said.
During Pilarz’s tenure, he oversaw Marquette joining the newly formed Big East Conference, an expansion of the School of Dentistry and the hiring of a new Arts & Sciences dean after five years of interim deans.
Upon his arrival to Marquette, Pilarz also had to handle the aftermath of a sexual assault case involving student athletes, and during the following summer, a sexual assault case involving a study abroad program in Italy. In March, he and former Provost John Pauly answered questions concerning the revoked sponsorship of the FemSex workshop, which came to light again this semester when the Honors Program planned to bring the workshop back.
The Office of the President could not be reached for comment at this time. The Tribune will have more updates as soon as they are made available.