August 07, 2014

Dr. Pestello Reflects on First Month in Office

To SLU Faculty, Staff and Students,

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.

I have been an admirer of Saint Louis University for years and have watched SLU's progress with great interest — from a distance. Now that I am here and I have met many members of the University community, I am even more impressed. It is clear to me that you love SLU, you are passionate about our mission, you are performing at a high level of excellence, and you are excited for our future.

The first step in building our future is developing a strategic plan. Given the challenges we face and the opportunities we have, it is imperative that we do this immediately. We must balance a sense of urgency with a shared desire to be inclusive and transparent. Everyone at the University should have the opportunity to provide input on this significant endeavor.

To get this process underway, leaders from across the University — including senior administrators, deans, faculty representatives, staff representatives and student representatives — will participate in a daylong retreat on August 13. The purpose of the retreat is to discuss how to construct the planning process. Following this Strategic Planning Launch, I will provide you with an update on our discussion.

In July, I began meeting with administrative units across the University, and this fall, I plan to attend a meeting of the Staff Advisory Committee so I can speak with more of the dedicated people who keep this institution running smoothly. This month, I began meeting with the assembled faculties of our academic units. I am eager to meet more of our impressive scholars, researchers and caregivers. Finally, I am working with student leaders to attend select meetings of our talented students once they are back on campus. These conversations — and the many others that will follow — also contribute to our shared vision.

In terms of communication with you, which is a priority for me, I plan to announce important news items and will share key updates in the SLU Newslink daily email. Of course, communication must be two-way, so if you have anything you would like to share directly with me, don't hesitate to email me at, in addition to sharing your thoughts during our upcoming meetings.

Also, I believe that we have been too reserved about our many remarkable accomplishments. As we seek to take SLU to even greater heights, it is incumbent upon all of us to proclaim the power of this University and all the special achievements that take place here. I encourage you to report your good news to our marketing and communications team so they can work to promote it on campus and well beyond.

I am working to promote Saint Louis University as well. During the last month, I have spoken with a number of prominent stakeholders outside of SLU. To a person, everyone has conveyed his or her appreciation for the University and its impact on the community. While I have been happy to accept their praise, I know it is your good work that has put Saint Louis University in such high regard.

On a personal note, I want to thank you again for the warm welcome you have extended to Fran and me since our arrival. We love our new neighborhood, the Central West End, and have already had the opportunity to visit a few of St. Louis's impressive cultural attractions. We also recently went to a Cardinals game with some of our SLU colleagues. Although our newfound Billiken luck didn't help the Cards win that night, we still had a great time.

Finally, I attended the Feast of St. Ignatius Mass at College Church last Thursday, and I was asked to say a few words. I took the opportunity to express my profound thanks for all that the Jesuits have done and continue to do for our community. I encourage each of you to do the same as you encounter these men of faith and inspiration.

I look forward to meeting more of you in the weeks and months ahead, and I hope to see you at the New Student Convocation and Family Welcome August 22 in Chaifetz Arena. I am excited to greet the new Billikens of the entering class.

Best wishes,

Pestello signature




Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.

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