This past weekend I attended the inaugural of Fr. Tim Lannon, SJ as the 24th President of Creighton University. When a President is inaugurated at a Jesuit university, the other Jesuit schools are asked to send a representative. I was on the Creighton faculty for 19 years before coming to Seattle U., so I, along with Fr. Mike Bayard, SJ, represented SU at the installation.
I first got to know Fr. Lannon when I was on the Creighton faculty and he was President of Creighton Prep High School. We were both asked to serve on a Supervisory Committee for the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. It seems the fraternity had engaged in some inappropriate activity and was on the verge of being booted off campus. The only way they could remain was under the direction of a supervisory committee consisting of Phi Psi alumni and faculty. Yes, that means Fr. Lannon, the first alum to serve as President of Creighton, was a fraternity brother when he was a student. (And I had to be inducted into the fraternity so I could serve as a faculty advisor!)
There is no doubt in my mind that Fr. Lannon will be a great President for Creighton. He has a great way with people and was an inspiring leader at Creighton Prep and St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where he was before returning to Creighton.
Returning to campus, I was able to see the tremendous improvements that have taken place with the campus infrastructure. The campus footprint is much larger than when I left, and many buildings have been added during the presidency of Fr. John Schlegel, SJ. While this is very impressive, it is not the campus facilities that make Creighton an outstanding academic institution. Returning to campus after being gone for ten years, I was able to visit with a number of my former colleagues. It was a reminder of the many wonderful faculty and staff at Creighton. They are good at what they do and dedicated to the university and its students (just like the faculty and staff at SU). I dare not name names because I will leave someone out, but it is really the people that make Creighton a great institution! And I know they will thrive under Fr. Lannon’s leadership!
The trip back was an opportunity to remind myself about the great network of 28 Jesuit universities in the US and the quality of education they deliver. Seattle University is not alone in its mission and its success! It is also a reminder that great leadership (Fr. Lannon at CU or Fr. Sundborg at SU) and great facilities (the new library at SU or the Harper Center at CU) are important for the success of a university, but not as important as the competence and dedication of the faculty and staff.