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Marquette University Alumni Association

J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication Award Recipients

Professional Achievement Award

John Steinmiller JOHN F. STEINMILLER, JOUR '70

You’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who has invested more of his time and talent in a sports organization than John, who has been with the Milwaukee Bucks for 45 years and is executive vice president of community affairs and social responsibility.

John, who in his role reinforces the team’s commitment to the region through the planning and implementation of team- and league-wide initiatives, served as the Bucks’ vice president of business operations for 34 years. He first joined the organization in 1970 while earning his Marquette degree and was named a full-time administrative assistant in January 1971. He was the team’s public relations director from 1972–77; the director of business operations from 1977–80; and the vice president of business operations from 1980–2013, when he was promoted to executive vice president.

“I want to exceed the expectations of our ownership, stakeholders and fans of what the Bucks can deliver in community collaborations and outreach to our neighborhoods and places of learning and living,” he says. “Marquette helped me shape my life so I can accomplish these goals. The faculty and administration with whom I interacted made me think clearer, see 360 degrees of situations, and learn compromise, perseverance and, most important, the responsibility to help others.”

Speaking of outreach, John is extremely active in Milwaukee. He serves on the executive boards of the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund, Milwaukee Metropolitan YMCA and Milwaukee Urban Day School. He also is co-chair of the annual Milwaukee Bucks/Cystic Fibrosis Foundation golf tournament, an event that has raised more than $1 million during the past 23 years, and he has committed his time to several other youth-specific organizations. He served as chairman of Visit Milwaukee, the convention and visitors bureau marketing organization, for two years.

Long term, John plans to do what he can to build support for a new sports and entertainment center for downtown Milwaukee, which, he hopes, will “be a catalyst for a new environment that successfully brings tremendous economic, entertainment, and 365 days a year of energy to the region and state of Wisconsin.”

Fun Facts

Hometown: Mount Prospect, Ill.

Favorite book:The Lou Gehrig Story … the first “chapter” book I remember reading. It gave me an early idea of what athletes can mean to young people through their examples in living their lives.”

Dream dinner date: “Walter Cronkite was an individual I followed closely during his career. As a news junkie, I couldn’t ignore him, and his presence and reporting of so many important and world-changing events would make him a captivating dinner partner.”

Marquette faculty or staff who had an impact: “Involvement in student government provided me with experiences and relationships I will never forget. Dr. Edward Simmons, Rev. Mike Sheridan, Dr. Roy Kallenberger, Jim Scott, Frank Beck and Rev. John Raynor, S.J., were just a few individuals I interfaced with and learned greatly from. I was one of the 100,000 or more students who benefited from friendship with the late Rev. John Naus, S.J., probably the best ambassador the university will ever have, whether you were a student, parent, alumnus, faculty member or staff member. His unselfish sharing of time, wit and counsel is unmatched on any campus, past present or future. Faculty members Dr. Gene Burd and Dr. Jack Crowley provided real-world experiences in journalism and advertising courses.”

Favorite Marquette memory: “It is impossible to narrow it to one memory. There are simply too many of the highest quality that still play in my mind in HD clarity. Every day was memory-loaded, with high-quality content, from freshman year club football games to the tension and raw drama of the late ’60s and ’70s. The Al McGuire basketball era produced the best basketball memories any college campus could experience. The friends and acquaintances from throughout the United States who came to Marquette and with whom I shared experiences still exist in my head and heart.”

In grade school, what did I want to be when I grew up and why? “I wanted to be a Chicago Cubs player. I adored the late Ernie Banks of the Cubs. He was a class act who performed at high levels and never forgot it was the fans who matter most. I witnessed the best part of his career and shared his love of life and baseball and people, as well as the disappointment of never playing in the World Series. In seventh grade, I wrote the editor of The Sporting News, Mr. Spink, asking for advice: ‘Should I be a priest, a baseball player or a sportswriter?’ He wrote back that I should become a priest, which he suggested was far nobler than the other careers.” 

Marquette legacy: “I was the first of my family to attend Marquette. My father attended Loyola University, and the Jesuit presence at Marquette made my dad a believer. My son graduated from Marquette and shares my love of the school. I never miss an opportunity to recruit a student to Marquette. I truly believe in the institution and the people who make Marquette work, as well as the city experience that offers opportunities not available to most college students.”