Fitzgerald Sets the Tone for His Tenure

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Emily Boleware
Contributing Writer

Incoming University of San Francisco President the Rev. Paul Fitzgerald, S.J. wants to share his inauguration spotlight and is even a little uncomfortable being at the center of all the fuss. He asked University Historian Alan Ziajka, who is in charge of organizing the event to make sure it  focuses on achievements throughout USF, especially those of students. Ziajka said, “[Father Fitzgerald] wants the inauguration to really be a celebration of students and faculty and alumni, not necessarily about him.”

Speaking to the journalism students who produced this preview package, Fitzgerald asked, “Is this really important?”  referring to the attention being paid to his formal installation as University president. The answer for many students, to whom the administration can often seem like a detached operation atop Lone Mountain, might be “No.” But those of us who interviewed him for these stories came away curious and hopeful about the kind of leader he might  be. “We need to listen to you [the students],” said Fitzgerald.

“We want you to leave here kind of ruined, in the sense that you’re not going to accept the easy, superficial answers…”

-Fr. Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald stressed his intention to focus on student desires, needs and success but made it clear that a successful Jesuit education was about more than making the most money.  Noting the importance of “educating students for careers that don’t exist yet,” he displayed an honest concern for also developing enlightened and engaged citizens. “We want you to leave here kind of ruined,” said Fitzgerald, “in the sense that you’re not going to accept the easy, superficial answers, and you’re not gonna be willing to let politicians just kick the can down the road and not solve…  these huge, huge issues.” Environmental degradation, social inequity and racism were among the issues he mentioned needing USF graduates’ attention. This intent to cultivate  global awareness and involvement begins with the inauguration — a collaborative effort to come together and display USF’s strengths, form meaningful connections and encourage  conscientious  action in the world.

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