At Marquette, junior Dennis Harrington is 1,000 miles from his home in Cedar Run, N.J.
So when he heard that University President the Rev. Scott Pilarz S.J., was also from the Garden State, he did what any hospitable student would do.
He sent him a welcome e-mail.
And he got one back the very next morning, inviting Harrington to stop by his office at Zilber Hall.
So that’s just what Harrington did.
“That’s the kind of guy he is,” Harrington said. “I just dropped by and said ‘hi.’ We had a nice laid back conversation.”
And all he had to do was send him an e-mail.
But like Harrington said, that is “the kind of guy he is,” and that’s the guy he’s appearing to be. Pilarz is all about his students.
So much so that he’s willing to live with them.
Pilarz created a buzz on campus last week, officially announcing to students in an e-mail, his decision to live in Campus Town East: an apartment building regularly designated for Marquette upperclassmen.
“I think that’s really cool actually,” said Dave Cushwa, a senior in the College of Business Administration. “He is going to get close to the students, that’s for sure.”
Harrington echoed similar thoughts, taking a liking to Pilarz’s unlikely quarters.
“When you live with us (students), you know what we have to deal with and see what we do everyday,” Harrington said. “It’s cool that he will experience that.”
But while most students have plenty to say about Pilarz living down the hall, they have much less to say about what their University President actually does. In fact, most students have nothing to say.
“Yeah I have no idea what a University President would be up to right now,” Cushwa said.
Father Fred Zagone, assistant to the vice president of university advancement, assured students that Pilarz is not only keeping himself busy, but Marquette students should be excited.
“Right now, his number one task is getting to know the university, the faculty and the students,” Zagone said. “I wouldn’t call his effort something that a university president would typically do or has to do, he is doing it because he genuinely cares.”
As for how students should feel, Zagone said, “Students have alot to look forward to. Father Pilarz has a very unique approach to students, takes great interest in their wants and needs and he listens very carefully. They [students] are getting a president who takes a great interest in them.”
Some students however aren’t happy about the fact they don’t know what their university president does, some pointing fingers at the people who formally held the role.
“I think the fact we don’t know what he does, shows he is just a figurehead and that goes back to those who came before him. There was always poor vocalization to the students. We never knew what our president was doing.”
Kozlowski said his biggest complaint about Pilarz’s predecessor Rev. Robert Wild, S.J., was that he was out of touch with students—something Kozlowski hopes Pilarz can change.
Theresa Woods, a junior in the College of Health Sciences agreed that there is a need for the university president to get closer to students than those who came before him.
“I really hope he bridges that gap. Not just with students, but especially with groups of students that don’t always feel welcome at Marquette,” Woods said. “I think for a lot of reasons it [Marquette] is a hard school to be the president of. I don’t know exactly what he does but getting to know those groups should be on his to-do list.”
What students want may be as simple as a president who just takes the time to know them. And Pilarz is working on that.
In his welcome e-mail sent out to all students last month, Pilarz signed off by writing, “If you see me around campus, please stop and introduce yourself.”
He isn’t kidding. Just ask Harrington.
Or maybe just send him an email.