Father Wild to retire as Marquette president

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Marquette University President Robert Wild announced that he plans to retire effective June 30, 2011, or until a successor takes office, whichever comes later.
“For several years people have been asking me when I’m going to retire,” Wild said. “I tell them I enjoy what I’m doing – and I do, but there comes a time when you know it’s right. This is that time, with the university in a strong position.”
Wild, who will turn 70 this month, is the university’s 22nd president and one of the longest-serving. He came to Marquette in 1996.
Wild has raised more than $725 million for the university, including several eight-figure gifts that have accelerated campus construction projects, including the new law and engineering buildings, and added to endowed funding for student scholarships. In total, the university will have completed more than $350 million of construction, renovation and beautification projects during Wild’s presidency.
Those projects, including the Al McGuire Center, Raynor Library, School of Dentistry and the newly opened Zilber Hall, also spurred economic development in the university’s near west side neighborhood.
“We have to be a good neighbor,” Wild said, citing the university’s active roles in the Avenues West Association and the Menomonee Valley Partners, as well as the dental, legal, literacy, nursing and speech clinics that provide services to the community.
Mary Ellen Stanek, immediate past chair of the Marquette Board of Trustees, called Wild a healer and a builder.
“He spent his first years as president building relationships with various stakeholders – alumni, faculty leaders, students, city and state officials,” Stanek said. “Having won their trust and admiration for his vision of what Marquette could be, he began to build momentum, not just in fundraising but in the recruitment of talented leaders, the creation of new academic programs and a return to athletic prominence.”
During Wild’s tenure, undergraduate applications to Marquette increased fourfold, from approximately 5,000 applications to nearly 20,000 for fall 2010.
Darren Jackson, chair of the Marquette Board of Trustees, said Wild emphasized Marquette’s Catholic, Jesuit identity in many ways, while welcoming students of all faiths.
“Outside observers, including accreditation teams, comment on the pervasive awareness of and ability to articulate the Marquette mission,” Jackson said. “Our students, faculty, staff and alumni are conscious of our call to, ‘Be the Difference.'”
Jackson appointed Stanek, an alumna and managing director and director of asset management at Robert W. Baird & Company Inc., as chair of the search committee. Marquette bylaws currently require that the president be a member of the Society of Jesus.
“Leadership succession has been a part of annual discussions between Father Wild and the board,” Jackson said. “Father Wild has prepared us well for transition, and we will continue to rely on his leadership, counsel and commitment.”
Wild said he will take a year’s sabbatical following his retirement.

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