On July 1, 2017, Dr. Mark Nemec became the ninth president of Fairfield University, succeeding Fr. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., who resigned last December. This brings the number of lay presidents of A.J.C.U. schools to 14, which is exactly half of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States.
Doctor Nemec is the fourth new president since August 2016, when Jo Ann Rooney became president of Loyola University Chicago. In January 2017 Debra Townsley became interim president of Wheeling Jesuit University. In June 2017 Herbert Keller, S.J., became interim president of the University of Scranton. Scott Pilarz, S.J., has been named president of the University of Scranton; he will assume office on July 1, 2018.
In an address at Santa Clara University in 2000 with representatives of the 28 schools in attendance, Father General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach articulated his vision for the future of Jesuit education. This included a strong endorsement of entrusting leadership to dedicated laypersons steeped in the Jesuit spirit. The Jesuit schools with lay presidents are Canisius College, Fairfield University, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, Le Moyne College, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Chicago, Marquette University, St. Joseph’s University, St. Louis University, Saint Peter’s University, Spring Hill College, University of Detroit Mercy, and Wheeling Jesuit University. These presidents greatly enrich the tradition and the future of Jesuit education.