One-On-One with Herbert Keller, S.J.

The Scranton Journal talks with with Herbert Keller, S.J., interim University president.

Herbert Keller, S.J., interim president of the University, talks to the Class of 2021 during Orientation.
Herbert Keller, S.J., interim president of the University, talks to the Class of 2021 during Orientation.

You’ve been a member of the University’s Board of Trustees for more than 17 years. How will your board experience inform your decisions during your tenure as interim president?

It has provided me a good sense of the issues facing the University and higher education at this point in time. Another advantage that I see in terms of my own tenure as interim president is that I have been uniquely blessed in having had the opportunity to see up close the leadership styles of the four immediate past presidents. I can truly say that I have learned something valuable from each of them and will bring this experience to my own tenure here.

How are you working with President-elect Scott Pilarz, S.J., who is also a board member this year, to help the leadership transition and make long-term decisions?

I have known Scott for a long time as a Jesuit, and I feel that our friendship will be a great asset during this year. Both of us are extremely comfortable with our roles during this year of transition and both of us desire what is best for the University of Scranton. So we happily work together toward that goal.

You were president of Scranton Prep for 18 years and, before that, served at Saint Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia. Tell us about your commitment to education.

I have found the work of Jesuit education to be incredibly important and enormously fulfilling. To play a role in the formation of young people and to be part of their academic, personal and spiritual growth, is a blessing that I have been thankful for every day.

What are you most looking forward to during this academic year?

I want to support all of the good works that are taking place and help to strengthen our mission, which has been so well framed by our strategic plan. We are blessed with a dedicated group of faculty, staff and administrators, and I want to support their efforts and be of service to them in any way that I can. We are blessed as well by talented and generous students. I want to encourage them by being open to their concerns and by being present to them in their activities and events on campus.

Now that you’ve begun your term, can you say what stands out to you so far? A favorite moment on campus?

My favorite moments on campus so far this summer have been our four orientation sessions for our incoming freshmen. Meeting the members of the Class of 2021 and their families, hearing of their reasons for choosing Scranton, and seeing their excitement of being on campus were great sources of joy and encouragement to me. Also, I truly enjoyed experiencing the enthusiasm of our upperclassmen and women who served as orientation assistants. The student assistants clearly evidenced the sense of community that is at the heart of the Scranton experience.

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