MILWAUKEE (AP) – Marquette University on Wednesday announced the hiring of its first non-Jesuit president, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Michael Lovell, to lead the state’s largest and most prominent private university.
Lovell joined UW-Milwaukee in 2008 as dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science and was named chancellor in 2011. He oversaw the launch of the university’s Zilber School of Public Health and construction of its new freshwater sciences school and an 89-acre research park set to open later this year the suburb of Wauwatosa.
Lovell said in a statement released by UW-Milwaukee that he initially declined when Marquette approached him about its presidency.
“I could not imagine leaving UWM at that time,” he said. “But in recent weeks, as several people asked me to keep an open mind, I began to hear a calling to serve at an institution where I could more openly share my Catholic faith.”
Lovell’s selection as president comes after Marquette’s trustees changed the university bylaws in 2011 to allow a non-Jesuit to lead the 133-year-old institution. Lovell will remain at UW-Milwaukee through July and take office at Marquette on Aug. 1.
He has made a mark for himself in Milwaukee by encouraging partnerships between UW-Milwaukee, businesses and nonprofit groups. He co-founded Milwaukee Succeeds, which works to improve education in the city, and the Midwest Energy Research Consortium, which brings universities and businesses together to work on energy issues.
UW System President Ray Cross praised Lovell as “a terrific leader, with great insight, integrity, and energy.”
“He has played a vital role in helping to grow a culture of innovation and entrepreneurism that makes UW-Milwaukee a compelling destination for students and faculty, as well as an attractive partner for business collaborations,” Cross said in a statement. “Mike has raised the university’s profile for research and innovation across the state and around the globe.”
UW-Milwaukee has 28,700 students to Marquette’s nearly 11,800 and a budget of $675 million in comparison with Marquette’s $397 million. But Marquette’s $407 million endowment is more than four times UW-Milwaukee’s, and Lovell would not have to contend with the often-contentious state politics involved in UW System funding.
Lawmakers froze tuition for two years and eliminated more than $180 million in proposed funding for the UW System last year after learning it had built up nearly $650 million in reserves while repeatedly raising tuition. Cross’ predecessor, Kevin Reilly, resigned soon after.
Lovell, a former mechanical engineering professor who came to Wisconsin from the University of Pittsburgh, earned $343,500 as chancellor at UW-Milwaukee. His salary at Marquette was not disclosed.