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The Marquette Presidential Search
Assignment: Discovery

Throughout its history, Marquette’s president has been a Jesuit. The university community now faces a new reality. Because of multiple factors, count among them a declining pool of Jesuits in the United States, and, within that pool, an even smaller segment holding the credentials for university leadership, Marquette’s 24th president may not be a Jesuit.

In selecting a lay president, the university would not cross into unchartered territory. Lay leaders hold the high office at seven of the 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities, including Georgetown, Loyola Marymount, Canisius and Gonzaga universities. Four other Jesuit colleges and universities in addition to Marquette, plus one Catholic university, are currently conducting presidential searches. Pending the outcomes, the number of lay presidents may grow this year.

Marquette’s bylaws were amended in 2011 to allow a lay president. Vice chair of the Marquette Board of Trustees and presidential search committee chair John Ferraro, Bus Ad ’77, says the university has never before undertaken a search of comparable scope.

“For the first time at Marquette, we will be considering lay candidates as well as Jesuit candidates,” Ferraro says. “Selecting the most qualified and the best person — man or woman — to lead Marquette has to be at the top of the agenda, and a passion for our Catholic identity and Jesuit mission has to be in the DNA of that person.”

What’s most important is that we identify the candidate who is a perfect match for Marquette today, says Rev. Joseph O’Keefe, another trustee, member of the presidential search committee and a professor of education at Boston College.

“At a particular time and place, there is a pool of candidates — lay and Jesuit — and it is important to consider who is ready to move and what a university needs at a particular point in its history,” he says.

“In my opinion, a consideration for any candidate is the appreciation of St. Ignatius’ legacy,” says Father O’Keefe. “I would be concerned if it were someone who is indifferent to Ignatius’ worldview. That would be a problem for me. More and more, lay men and women are leading Jesuit universities, and are very effective at promoting our Catholic, Jesuit mission. This leadership by lay people is in the spirit of St. Ignatius and the Jesuit order.”

The Board of Trustees plans to conclude the search this spring and welcome Marquette’s next president to campus for the fall 2014 semester

Contribute to the search by nominating a candidate. Visit

Members of the search committee belong to Marquette alumni, faculty and administrative circles.

John Ferraro, Bus Ad ’77, vice chair of the Board of Trustees
Patricia Cervenka, professor of law, Marquette Law School
Dr. William Cullinan, PT ’81, dean of the College of Health Sciences
Patrick Lawton, Bus Ad ’78, Grad ’80, university trustee
Dr. Arnold Mitchem, Grad ’81, university trustee
Rev. Joseph M. O’Keefe, S.J., university trustee
Dr. Janis Orlowski, Eng ’78, university trustee
Owen Sullivan, Arts ’79, university trustee

Gathering information

There was wide-spread community engagement — with more than 1,100 feedback responses from alumni, parents, faculty, staff and students on the desired qualifications and characteristics in a president.

Increase in feedback above last presidential search

Currently, there are 7 lay presidents leading Jesuit universities— and — 4 ongoing searches for presidents at Jesuit universities Marquette, San Francisco University, Spring Hill College and St. Louis University

Today, there are 2,457 U.S. Jesuits compared to 4,250 in 1994

72 percent of U.S. Catholic colleges are headed by lay presidents

Stay current with presidential news via our online updates, plus listen to a message from John Ferraro at

Marquette’s timeline for naming next president

Oct. 3
Presidential search committee named

Oct. 28
Search firm Witt/Kieffer hired

Nov. 4
Marquetters gather at first of 10 community input sessions; form posted online for feedback

Nov. 14
Online input form closes

Late Nov.
Search committee drafts presidential position description based on community feedback

Dec. 4
Board of Trustees approves position description

Dec. 5
Active recruitment begins

Jan. 17
Search committee updates Alumni Association National Board

Jan. 27
Search committee updates Academic Senate

Feb. 15
Search committee updates Parents Association

Candidates evaluated, finalists selected
Board elects and announces 24th president

By Aug. 25
President assumes office

Fall 2014


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