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Dear Marquette colleagues,

As we head into a new academic year amid ongoing challenges in higher education, we are all working to advance our Catholic, Jesuit mission while dealing with some difficult financial and demographic realities affecting the higher education industry. This summer, I asked the University Leadership Council to read Dr. Nathan Grawe’s 2018 book, Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education. It predicts a sharp decline in higher education enrollment starting in 2026 due to the “birth dearth” following the Great Recession of 2008. The Midwest will be one of the areas hardest hit by population changes, with anticipated declines of 15 to 25 percent of college-age students.

This foreseeable enrollment scenario has serious implications for Marquette, as nearly 70 percent of our operating revenues come from tuition and room and board fees. Knowing the increased pressures related to college affordability and the financial burden that a Marquette education places on many of our students and their families, we know that we cannot continue to increase tuition at our recent pace.

We must address our short-term challenges so that we have the resources needed to continue to invest in Beyond Boundaries. To this end, our Executive Leadership Team has asked the vice presidents, deans and vice provosts to identify cost management opportunities on campus. Numerous efficiencies in budgeting, staffing and space have been recommended, and all are being considered as we align our resources to mitigate industry challenges and allow for investment in future opportunities. An advisory council of academic and operational leaders is discerning the path forward to implement these recommendations in the next six weeks.

Many of the decisions that will be made in the coming weeks will test us, so I ask that we all support each other as we continue to evolve as an institution to ensure our long-term success. I want to assure you that I am committed to communicating with you about near-term changes when they are implemented.

Through our strategic plan, Beyond Boundaries, we have already taken important steps to invest in research, online education, new undergraduate and graduate programs, diversity initiatives and our physical infrastructure, which have helped to lessen the effects of these industry challenges. This year, we will embark on a long-term campus-wide planning exercise to deal with the predicted demographic drop in traditional college-age students over the next decade. No matter what strategic changes we make as an institution, we will never waver in our commitment to our Catholic and Jesuit mission of providing a transformational education for every student.

Unfortunately, these industry challenges are not merely an inflection point — they are an ongoing state of turbulence for higher education. While Marquette is currently on solid financial footing, we must change both now and in the coming years to navigate this continued turbulence.

We pray for a productive start to the academic year and for continued blessings on our Marquette community as we work together to serve our students, the larger public and the greater glory of God.


Dr. Michael R. Lovell

Marquette University

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