Fred Pestello

SLU's new version of its Billiken mascot
Bill Barrett/provided by SLU

Saint Louis University wanted its new Billiken mascot to be a little edgier, but based on reaction after it was introduced earlier this week, the school may have fallen over the edge.

Comments on Facebook, numbering more than 600 by Thursday morning, were overwhelmingly negative, starting with a mild “This is not ok” and going swiftly downhill from there. Signatures on an online petition calling on SLU President Fred Pestello to bring back the older, cuddlier version rose quickly past 1,500.

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

As it approaches its 200th anniversary, Saint Louis University is mobilizing to combat shrinking enrollment, a reduction in federal grants and contracts and a rising amount of scholarship aid paid to its students.

A new report looking at issues raised by the university’s strategic plan cautions that in a changing higher education landscape, SLU must change as well.

Saint Louis University President Fred Pestello addresses students at the university's Clock Tower last August after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Saint Louis University

When Fred Pestello began his tenure as Saint Louis University’s first lay president last July 1, anyone involved with the school may have said his biggest task would be reuniting the campus after a tumultuous time under the Rev. Lawrence Biondi.

Fred Pestello
Stephanie Zimmerman

Saint Louis University officials say the school will have more money to attract and retain African-American students and an increased budget for African-American studies under an agreement that ended a six-day sit-in on the campus in October.

Updating progress on what have become known as the Clock Tower Accords, SLU President Fred Pestello said Monday that since the 13-point agreement was reached with demonstrators who protested on campus after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, many campus groups have met to turn the pledges into reality.

Michelle Peltier/Saint Louis University

Fred Pestello may be the first lay president of Saint Louis University, but he is hardly ignoring the school’s mission grounded in Jesuit philosophy.

At his inauguration Friday morning, Pestello told faculty, staff, students, alumni and representatives of other universities that the traditions of a Jesuit education mean that SLU must “ask the most compelling questions of our time. Our mission statement itself is a reflection of this extraordinary vocation. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and the service of humanity….

Stephanie Zimmerman

The scaffolding surrounding DuBourg Hall on the Saint Louis University campus is as much symbolic as it is structural.

While the administration building gets a facelift, the president’s office got a new occupant this week. Fred Pestello, SLU’s first non-Jesuit president, took over on Tuesday after a six-year career as president of Le Moyne College, another Jesuit institution in Syracuse, N.Y.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:41 p.m., Fri., March 21.

Saint Louis University has a new president, its first non-Jesuit president, to succeed the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, who stepped down amid controversy last year.

The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously elected Fred Pestello during a special meeting Thursday evening, according to a news release. He will begin his new position on July 1.