SCRANTON, Pa. — The University of Scranton's flag flew at half-staff Friday afternoon as the campus community mourns the loss of its president Rev. Scott Pilarz, S.J.
"He was an icon in the university, and he did so much for the students here. I mean, he was a big part of what made me choose the school. He made me always feel welcome when I was here," said sophomore Nathan Tauber.
Fr. Pilarz was diagnosed with ALS in 2018. He passed away on Wednesday from complications with the disease. He was 61 years old.
"He just did so much, and he did such an incredible job leading the school through the pandemic," said sophomore Marisa Maffei. "Even with the horrible illness he was fighting, he was still so strong for all of us, and it just meant a lot to all of us at the university."
Students, staff, and alumni looked on as university police escorted his casket to the viewing on campus.
"It was important for me to be here because he was here when I started at the university, and he's a big part of our community, and he's obviously a big part of my journey," said Kristi Klein, a university staff member.
Fr. Pilarz served as president at the University of Scranton on two separate occasions. He was set to retire in May.
"He was always a smiling face and always had a lot of humor and made everyone around him feel so loved and welcome here," sophomore Tess Sinclair said.
"He was down to earth and willing to talk to anyone and just had a real true love for our students," Klein added.
The viewing for Fr. Pilarz is open to the public until 7 p.m. Friday.