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Historic choice — Get acquainted with Marquette’s next president

Dr. Michael R. Lovell was unanimously elected the 24th president of Marquette University by the Board of Trustees. He will be the university’s first lay president when he takes office on Aug. 1, 2014, succeeding Interim President Robert A. Wild, S.J.

Lovell was introduced to the university community at a March 26 news conference during which alumnus John Ferraro, Bus Ad ’77, chair of the committee that conducted the nationwide search for the next president, referenced sage advice made long ago by his mother. She told him that sometimes the best thing is found right in front of you. That was an apropos observation with the selection of Lovell, who became chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, a cross-town peer, in 2011.

For Lovell, the decision to join Marquette came after deep discernment. He said he has learned to be open to God because he will take you to remarkable places.

“As a devout Catholic, my faith has always served as the cornerstone of my life,” he said. “Having the ability to openly share my faith in my professional career is something that I have always wanted to do. I am truly humbled and excited to become part of the Marquette family at this historic moment. Working with the Jesuit community, faculty, staff, students and alumni, I believe that through its mission to serve others, Marquette can not only make a transformational impact on Milwaukee, but across the globe.”

When introducing Lovell to the students, faculty, alumni and friends crowded shoulder to shoulder at the news conference, euphoria with the choice was obvious and best expressed by Board Chair Charles “Chuck” Swoboda, Eng ’89.

“This is a historic moment in Marquette’s 133-year tradition as we appoint the first lay president of this great university,” Swoboda said. “Dr. Lovell brings the experience and vision to effectively lead Marquette amidst the challenging dynamics of higher education today. He clearly values the transformative experience of a Marquette education, and, as our president, he will have the ability to lead and live out his Catholic faith as a servant leader.”

Rev. Thomas Lawler, S.J., provincial superior of the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus and member of the Marquette Board of Trustees, said, “We have found in Dr. Lovell a committed Catholic who will embody the rich mission of the Jesuits and lead one of our premier universities.”

Lovell holds three degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, including a doctorate. He has published more than 100 articles in leading engineering journals, has written a dozen book chapters and recently co-authored a book, Tribology for Scientists and Engineers. He has been lead or co-lead investigator for nearly $30 million in externally funded research grants from foundations, businesses and government agencies, including the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. departments of Energy, Defense and Education. His research has led to several technological breakthroughs, and he holds seven patents and 14 provisional patents. In March, Lovell was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors.

Lovell’s election was the culmination of an intensive six-month process during which the search committee identified more than 1,200 lay prospects and Jesuit candidates for Marquette’s 24th president. “Through a mutual process of discernment and reflection, we ultimately identified the best person to serve as Marquette’s next leader,” Swoboda said.

An inauguration ceremony will be held in the fall.

Visit for more information about Lovell’s research and scholarship. — JMM

Personal information

Dr. Michael R. Lovell
Age: 47
Family: Wife, Amy, and four children
Hometown: Meadville, Penn.
Education: University of Pittsburgh, mechanical engineering, Ph.D. 1994, M.S. 1991, B.S. 1989


Comment by MATTHEW J. HABERKORN JR. at Apr 17 2014 12:08 pm
Comment by Antoinette Santacrose Rigali at Apr 17 2014 03:10 pm
Welcome Mr. Lovell. I am from huge Marquette family. My borther, Mark Santacrose is being honored on Friday the 25th with the Entrepreneurial award. Our parents met at and graduated from Marquette. My father, Anthony Santacrose was buried from Jesu' and 2 months later, I was baptized there. My mom, my hero raised us on her own and on a catholic school teachers salary. My 2 sisters chose Marquette but I chose to take a different path and went to ISU. I do regret not having such an incredible alumni as my family and would love for my son, Tony to attend MU in the fall of 2016. He is a miracle-he was born weighing 1 pound 12 ounces and is one remarkable kid. I hope to meet you next week, and please keep Tony in your thoughts and prayers...Thank you and God Bless you and MU
Comment by Dr. Roger T. Zeimet at Apr 17 2014 09:22 pm
I, too, would like to welcome Dr. Lovell to the MU family. Was both surprised and pleased to see that you are the first lay person to be chosen to head my Alma Mater. We share one academic trait in common. Like you, I received three degrees from the same institution. In my case it was MU where I spent the most rewarding and memorable years of my life pursuing three degrees in history. I had not originally intended to return to MU for my graduate education, but strong encouragement from one of my Jesuit professors (coupled with the offer of a Teaching Assistant-ship by the Chair of the History Dept.) convinced me to do so. I have never regretted that decision. I trust that you will feel the same about your decision to come to MU. God bless your endeavors there.
Comment by Walter Masnyk at Apr 18 2014 09:58 am
As a MU Engineering grad I am pleasantly surprised we now have a strong catholic and engineering perspective to help shape and guide my Alma Mater. God bless you in your new endeavor.
Comment by Tom and Judy Dincherr at Apr 20 2014 06:00 am
As another Engineer and Nurse couple, we welcome you and your wife Amy to MU. Eng and Nsg, '59
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