ONE-ON-ONE with Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J., the Next University President

Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J., the newly named 29th president of The University of Scranton, answered a few questions about himself, the University, its strategic plan, the city and more in a Q&A session.

ONE-ON-ONE with Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J., the Next University President banner image

marina-tn.jpegRev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J., the newly named 29th president of The University of Scranton, answered a few questions about himself, the University, its strategic plan, the city and more in a Q&A session, part of which is included in a video posted on the announcement webpage. Father Marina will begin serving as the 29th president this summer.

What about The University of Scranton inspired you to want to become its 29th president?

Since the first day I joined the Jesuits, I heard that The University of Scranton takes seriously its Catholic and Jesuit identity. I’ve heard that so many times, it has to be true. When I became aware of the opportunity to serve as president and thought about how the mission and identity ring true, I knew that I had to apply.

What were your impressions of the University before the search, and what have you learned through the process that surprised you?

My impressions were always very good. I’ve known for some time how Scranton has fared in the ratings in  U.S. News & World Report,  The Princeton Review, and many other national rankings. But it wasn’t really until the search process itself that I started to become really familiar with the University, its components, and, most especially, its people. All of that has confirmed everything that I have believed in with regard to the University for some time now.

You entered the Jesuits a little bit later in life. Can you share some of what led you to make that decision?

I met the Jesuits when I began my doctoral program at Fordham University. This is a little hard to explain, but meeting them was comparable to being away on a long journey, coming home, putting your key in the door and walking in. There’s no feeling like the one you get when you know that you’re “home.” That’s how joining the Society of Jesus felt to me. Even though I didn’t know the Jesuits well, it still felt like home to me whenever I was on the campus of Fordham, learning about St. Ignatius and Ignatian spirituality, or engaging in other things related to the Jesuits. I took more formal steps to get to know the Society of Jesus later in my life. I entered at 42, which is really quite unusual even these days, but I don’t regret a moment of it. In fact, I wish I had started the process sooner!

Could you talk a little about how you see the relationship between the University and the city?

I learned from one of my Jesuit mentors that a Jesuit university is only worth its salt if it has a direct and beneficial impact on the city around it. I’m well aware of the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between the City of Scranton and the University, and I’m really interested in learning more about it and helping that relationship to grow. Also, I’d like to meet Bishop Bambera, and hear about the impact and the needs of the local church. All of these things work together with local industry to allow us as a team to provide the greatest impact and benefit that we can. It is a dynamic relationship already, and I think it can only get better from here. I'm’ looking forward to learning and doing more to help this relationship grow.

How do you see yourself connecting with students? Do you have certain things in mind that you think helps you to connect best with them?

The way that I connect with students here at Le Moyne is in both formal and informal ways. That means meeting formally with student leadership, being present at club meetings and such. Then I also like to spend time with them informally, having lunch or dinner with them in the dining hall, walking around the campus and chatting for a few minutes as they make their way to class. Sometimes I will take my laptop to the library in the evening and catch up on my email there. It’s a chance to say hello to students and answer a quick question they may have, or just ask them how they’re doing. It’s essential that a university president be accessible to students and I intend to be so.

What would you like to say to the Scranton family?

What I'd like to say to the Scranton family is thank you. Thank you for inviting me into your midst. This is the privilege of a lifetime. I promise you that I'm going to do everything I can to live up to the confidence that you're showing in me at this moment. And, the last thing I'll say is, "Go Royals."

What will he do first? Hear him answer that question, here.

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Update, March 2021: Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J., was named the University's 28th president in February 2021, but with the addition of Jeffrey Gingerich, Ph.D. as acting president after the passing of Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., the University's 27th president, in March 2021, Father Marina will become the 29th University president. Dr. Gingerich is the 28th University president. Where it was possible, the University has updated references to reflect this change.
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