Dr. James H. Scott, former vice president for student affairs who recently passed away at age 90, was old school — in the best possible senses of the term. The firm handshake, the military-short haircut, the “way to go!” cheers at athletic events (where he was always in a suit), the stories about him on his hands and knees, organizing papers and files. … I mean, he was hired at Marquette as Dean of Men!
I came to know Jim in the early 1980s when I was an undergraduate student leader, by which time he was serving as Marquette’s first vice president for student affairs. What I remember most from that time was his seemingly boundless energy and attention to detail — when we would prepare documents that we knew were going to Dr. Scott, we knew they would be read, commented on and taken seriously.
When I made the decision to pursue a career in student affairs, Jim was very supportive, as he remained throughout my career — continuing to send notes of congratulations and encouragement well past his retirement from Marquette in the mid-1990s. Every encounter with Jim, no matter how brief, left you energized, motivated and somehow both challenged and supported.
When I went to graduate school and began to learn about the student affairs profession, I came to such a profound appreciation for Jim’s contributions to Marquette. To enumerate a few:
- Jim professionalized the Division of Student Affairs, ensuring that every staff member had a minimum of a master’s degree.
- Intercollegiate Athletics reported to Jim, meaning not only was he vice president during the 1977 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, he also helped shepherd the institution from being independent to joining our first athletic conference.
- So many buildings were constructed or repurposed under his leadership that continue to shape the student experience, from the Helfaer Rec Center to many of the residence halls to the Alumni Memorial Union.
- Jim’s early years in student affairs coincided with the student protest movements: lessons from those days shaped Jim’s approach to policy and program development, leading to a clear articulation of student rights that runs through our code of conduct even today.
There are still a number of us here who were hired by Jim, and when we talk about him, so many anecdotes, “Dr. Scott-isms” and warm memories come to mind. And, when I look around the campus today, his legacy remains in tangible and intangible forms. In short, Jim was a trailblazer, a pioneer and a consummate student affairs professional: to paraphrase Hamlet, we shall not see his like again. Thanks for everything, Jim!
Stephanie L. Quade
Dean of Students
Arts ’84, Grad ‘94
Condolences may be sent to:
Mary Beth Scott
2005 Cloverhill Road
Elm Grove, WI 53122