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Elevating the Leadership Role Within Mission and Identity

June 29, 2020

Dear Saint Louis University community, 

In early May, I announced a forthcoming leadership transition in our Office of Mission and Identity. Fr. David Suwalsky, S.J., will succeed Fr. Chris Collins, S.J., at the helm of this critical office starting July 1. 

Today, I am pleased to announce that Fr. Suwalsky will serve as SLU’s vice president for Mission and Identity, rather than as an assistant to the president. This decision comes after much discussion with the Jesuits Active at SLU, who, in our last face-to-face meeting, made a strong case for this change, our Provincial, Fr. Ronald Mercier, S.J., and the Mission Priority Examen Team. It follows upon considerable reflection for me personally as SLU’s president. This move also aligns our mission leadership structure with that of most of our Jesuit university peers. 

The importance of the Office of Mission and Identity cannot be overstated, especially during this time of great uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the long overdue reckoning of our country’s history, especially in matters of racial equity and social justice. Making his role a vice presidential position will help solidify the importance of Mission and Identity both within SLU and in the St. Louis community.  

Please join me again in thanking Fr. Collins for his five years of service leading and advancing our Mission and Identity work. I know you join me in wishing him well on his sabbatical and return to the Department of Theological Studies faculty in January 2021. Building on the foundation Fr. Collins laid, we have much work ahead of us within Mission and Identity. I am confident that Fr. Suwalsky is the right person to guide us through that work. From what I have heard from many of you, you share in that belief. 

Fr. Suwalsky is eager to begin and welcomes your thoughts and ideas about strengthening our mission, identity, and the SLU community. Together, we will find continued success in shaping our world for the better. 

Higher Purpose. Greater Good. 

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.