Fred Pestello named first lay president of SLU

Welcoming party: Pestello speaks with students on the med campus during one of the presidential receptions. John Schuler / Photo Editor
Welcoming party: Pestello speaks with students on the med campus during one of the presidential receptions.
John Schuler / Photo Editor

Saint Louis University announced Dr. Fred P. Pestello as its next president at a reception on Friday, March 21. The SLU Board of Trustees had a special meeting Thursday evening to elect Pestello for SLU’s 33rd president, according to Board of Trustees President J. Joe Adorjan.

“It’s been a terrific day,” stated Pestello on Friday. “I’m just impressed by the genuine warmth of people here…and the enthusiasm that everybody seems to have for SLU.”

Pestello, the current president of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., will assume the presidential position on July 1, 2014. He has been serving as president of Le Moyne College since 2008 and has also served as a faculty member and provost at the University of Dayton. He is a Jesuit-educated, sociology scholar and a Roman Catholic who has spent his 30-year career in Catholic higher education. Pestello will be the first lay president to ever serve at SLU.

At Friday’s announcement, Adorjan touched on some of the many reasons why the Board of Trustees Search Committee found Pestello to be the best choice for SLU’s next president. He remarked on Pestello’s results-oriented mindset, ability to collaborate, outstanding communication skills and his interest in shared government systems.

Pestello first greeted the SLU community by introducing his family and saying how humbled and honored he is to accept the presidential position.

“If you know this institution, its importance, its mission and its success, how could I not be humbled and honored to be here?” he said.

The new president said that he has been closely following SLU throughout his years, as he sees the university as a fierce competitor. He commented on being impressed with the search committee and everything that he has seen thus far at SLU, including people’s inspirational attitudes about the future. When regarding his own plans for SLU, Pestello announced having high aspirations of his own.

“My goals are to continue the excellent trajectory that this fine Jesuit research university has been on,” Pestello stated. “I want to continue to work with the community to keep SLU a premiere Jesuit research university that educates students as whole persons.”

Pestello finds SLU to be well positioned for success, as long as the community can work together. He remarked on first needing to get to know the SLU community so that he can then bring the community together to collectively decide what the future of SLU should look like.

“I think the first part is to transition and begin to understand the institution,” said Pestello. “I’m coming in as one person to an institution with a 200-year history…I understand the charism, what I now need to understand a little more deeply is SLU.”

Having come from a Jesuit-educated background and being the current president at a Jesuit institution, the new president assures that he is familiar with the mission that is grounded in the Catholic and Jesuit interests.

What he wishes to explore, however, is how SLU can continue to build and adapt to the times in a manner that allows the mission to be lived out and students to be adequately prepared for the future. He expressed avid interest in open communication with the students and entire SLU community, and he met with the Student Government Association to begin a cultivation of a hopeful and healthy student relationship.

Pestello said that he is most looking forward to meeting people and adapting to the community, but that he seeks the help of the entire community in this transition and the future success of the university.

“I am fallible,” said Pestello. “I am but one person…there is nothing I can do alone.”

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An introduction: Pestello sharing a few words during his med-campus reception.
John Schuler / Photo Editor