University President Stepping Down in May 2021

Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., to step down as president on May 31, 2021, after assessing progression of symptoms related to his diagnosis of ALS.
The University of Scranton’s 27th President, Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., announced he will step down as president at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year on May 31, 2021.
The University of Scranton’s 27th President, Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., announced he will step down as president at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year on May 31, 2021.

University of Scranton President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., announced in a video to the campus community today his intention to step down at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. Father Pilarz said he came to the decision to conclude his term as Scranton’s 27th president after assessing the progression of symptoms related to his diagnosis of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

“During the past two years, my love [for the University] has only grown stronger and my sense of gratitude deeper. I love the University too much to ever jeopardize her future. That is why I think it is prudent to step aside at the end of this year. The University needs a strong and steady hand, and I pray for the success of the search. I ask you all to pray with me for God’s continued grace and for the University’s unique place in the landscape of Catholic and Jesuit education,” said Father Pilarz in a video message.

During the upcoming year, Father Pilarz plans to focus on the health and safety of the campus community related to the pandemic; ways in which the University can address systemic racism; the continued success of the Slattery Center for the Humanities; the launch of the of the University’s 2020-2025 strategic plan; and the advancement of a capital campaign to build the University’s endowment, support its aspirations and enrich the University’s Catholic and Jesuit mission.

“I would also like to direct my energy toward continuing to educate people about ALS, the urgent need for research and the importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people living with ALS,” said Father Pilarz in his video message. 

When Father Pilarz concludes his second term as president on May 31, 2021, he will have been the second-longest-serving president in the University’s history. Only J.A. Panuska, S.J. (1982-1998) has served a longer term as president.

During Father Pilarz’s second tenure as president, Scranton further advanced its commitment to providing students a transformative education in the Catholic and Jesuit tradition. The founding of the Slattery Center for the Humanities in 2019 underscores the core role that the liberal arts plays in the formation of students to become “men and women for and with others.”  Renewed strategic enrollment initiatives led the University to add majors in academic areas of emerging growth, including mechanical engineering, cybercrime and homeland security, and business analytics, among others. The University increased its endowment to support student-faculty research and faculty development, and has strengthened scholarships and financial aid for students and their families. The University further aligned its commitment to serve the region by opening the Autism Collaborative Centers of Excellence Executive Hub on campus to enhance services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The establishment of a new community-based learning office coordinates and encourages academic course projects focused on community needs. In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church, Father Pilarz established the Task Force on Healing, Reconciliation and Hope.

James M. Slattery, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, announced in a letter to the campus community, also sent on Aug. 19, that the board has accepted Father Pilarz’s resignation “with an equal measure of gratitude and sadness.”

“As trustees, we could not be more pleased with the masterful way in which Father Pilarz has led the University throughout his presidency and especially during these past months – perhaps the most challenging time in our history. His love for the University – and especially our students – inspires all of us every day, and we take comfort in knowing that he continues to lead us through the end of next May,” said Slattery in the letter to the campus community.

According to Slattery, the University’s Board of Trustees will form a committee to conduct a national search for a new president that will seek input from the campus community and will make the “search process as inclusive as possible, within the necessary limits of confidentiality.”

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