Reverend Scott Pilarz, Icon and President of the University, Passes Away at 61

By: Phil Rauch | Managing Editor

Reverend Scott Pilarz passed away on Mar. 10, 2021 at the age of 61 due to complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Diagnosed in 2018, Father Pilarz promised the university community that he’d move forward and remain steadfast in his duties to serve the school.

Reverend Pilarz was twice President of the University of Scranton, serving as the 24th and 27th president in two stints from 2003-2011 and once again from 2018-2021.

Reverend Pilarz was known to have an excellent sense of humor, a passion for service, and a level of humility only few can achieve. After he was diagnosed with ALS, Reverend Pilarz fought tirelessly to help others coping with the disease, raise awareness about its impact on its victims and their loved ones, and fight any stigmas associated with ALS. This exemplified his fierce commitment to service.

On top of personal health issues, Reverend Pilarz faced many challenges with the school in his second tenure as president. In the Summer of 2018, Reverend Pilarz’s second inaugural year as president, a grand jury in the state of Pennsylvania named 300 priests throughout the state who had been implicated in abusing children, with the assistance of cover ups by Bishops in six diocese.

Several priests in the Lackawanna County area were named, and a couple dorms at the University who bore their names had to be changed. It was perhaps one of the worst crises the church had to face in several decades.

And, just two years later, the COVID-19 pandemic shocked the world and put life as we knew it on pause. Schools and businesses all over the world had to shut their doors. Despite being sent home indefinitely on March 15, 2020, Reverend Pilarz, along with his team, managed to get students back to campus in August of 2020 and successfully complete the fall, and presumably, the spring semesters.

In addition to overcoming these challenges, Reverend Pilarz oversaw many transformative additions to campus. The pioneer behind the Pride, Passion, and Promise Campaign, this initiative introduced the DeNaples Center, the Dionne Green, the Loyola Science Center, and Condron, Montrone, and Pilarz Halls to the university campus.

Reverend Pilarz will be deeply missed by the university community. His contributions are innumerable. As he always said:

“May God bless you, may God bless Catholic and Jesuit education, and may God bless the University of Scranton.”