Skip to Page's ContentSkip to Top NavSkip to SearchSkip to FooterSkip to Class Notes Nav
#
#

Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz ’89: Educating for the Future

Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz ’89: Educating for the Future
University of Evansville President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz ’89 getting to know some students in Ridgway University Center at Evansville.

One alumnus draws on his experience at this University to lead another.

While Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz cherished his undergraduate years at The University of Scranton, he left with little intention of pursuing a career in academia.

Life, though, had other plans for him.

Last year, Pietruszkiewicz ’89, became the 24th president of the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana. The former government lawyer arrived there after serving as dean and professor of law at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida.

“So far, my time at Evansville has been fabulous. When they talk about Midwest values, it’s a true statement,” said Pietruszkiewicz, who moved there with his wife, Siobhan, and sons, Ryan and John.

Pietruszkiewicz has no trouble citing some of the 2,500-student, Methodist-affiliated university’s recent accomplishments. Its accounting and finance programs are both nationally recognized, 96 percent of its students do internships before graduation, and its theater program claims Academy Award-winning actor Rami Malek, who played Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the film Bohemian Rhapsody, among its esteemed alumni.

In addition, Evansville has been designated an Ashoka Changemaker campus, thanks to its commitment to social justice and community outreach in the greater Evansville area, Pietruszkiewicz said. Evansville faculty and students have collaborated with government and nonprofit organizations on a number of projects, from looking for ways to combat Indiana’s high infant mortality rate to establishing micro-financing programs for women and minority entrepreneurs.

A Piece of Scranton

Besides its purple colors, Evansville shares a lot in common with the University in terms of its ethos, Pietruszkiewicz said.

“Even though we’re Methodist-affiliated, it’s much the same as the Jesuit model,” he said. “The University of Scranton played an enormous part in how I think about educating students for the future, both in terms of the classroom experience and in terms of educating the whole person. That solid liberal arts foundation really gets you to think about problem-solving. That foundation has really carried me forward.”

Pietruszkiewicz grew up just miles from the University in Throop, Pennsylvania. He went to Bishop O’Hara High School and developed a lifelong obsession with Revello’s Pizza in Old Forge — today, he often gets par-baked trays shipped to his home.

At the University, Pietruszkiewicz studied accounting while playing on the golf team and working full time. One of his jobs was at the former Third National Bank, where his regular dealings with attorneys inspired him to pursue his law degree at another Jesuit institution — Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

Upon passing the bar, he went to work for the federal government, first at the Department of Education, then as a trial attorney in the Tax Division of the Department of Justice. In between, he also found time to pursue his master’s degree in taxation at yet another Jesuit institution — Georgetown University Law Center.

"It's About the People"

At the Justice Department, Pietruszkiewicz was assigned to the southern United States and spent a good part of his time jetting off to courtrooms in Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Mississippi.

Pietruszkiewicz still wears purple. Here he is, standing, second row, far right, sporting UE purple, supporting UE’s annual Freshman Service Project. Kneeling in the front row, far right, is his wife, Siobhan, alongside volunteers and students at the Boys and Girls Club in the Evansville community.

“I couldn’t think about a better way to practice law than to represent the citizens of the United States in litigation,” he said.

As if his life wasn’t hectic enough already, he then received an offer to become an adjunct professor at George Mason University’s law school.

“I got a call from the associate dean. He said, ‘Classes start in 10 days. Are you available to teach?’ I said, ‘Absolutely,’” Pietruszkiewicz said. “And I loved it. Had I said no to that, I wouldn’t have had a conversation with you as president of the University of Evansville.”

“The University of Scranton played an enormous part in how I think about educating students for the future, both in terms of the classroom experience and in terms of educating the whole person.” 

From there, he received an offer to teach full time at Louisiana State University’s law school. Six years into his tenure there, he became the school’s vice chancellor for business and financial affairs. Then came the dean’s job at Stetson, where he strengthened its enrollment management system, increased student diversity and grew its alumni and fundraising networks. And he still managed to teach.

“And I will eventually teach at Evansville, too,” he said. “If I say it’s the most important thing we do, I ought to do it, too.”

Currently, though, Pietruszkiewicz is still acquainting himself to the demands of his new job. He’s made it a point to be a highly visible part of campus life, whether he’s having lunch with students or filming his Purple Friday Wrap, a weekly video about campus happenings that he records using an iPhone and a selfie stick.

“It’s important to me to make those connections on campus,” he said. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s about the people, and the more time I spend outside of the office, the more I think I’m doing the job the right way.”

“So far, the University of Evansville has been a great fit for my family and me,” he added. “It feels like home.”

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Table of Contents
#
Contact Us
Copyright 2019 The University of Scranton. All Rights Reserved.