Chancellor Michael Lovell announced last week that he will be resigning from his position to become Marquette University’s first lay President, effective August 1, 2014.
Set to be the 24th president in the schools 133 year history, Lovell will be following Rev. Scott R. Pilarz who abruptly resigned in September. He will also be the first lay president of the university, meaning that he will be the first in the school’s history to hold the office without being an ordained Jesuit reverend. A bylaw passed by the school in 2011 made the position available to a layman.
Lovell cited his devout Catholic faith as the prime motivator in his decision to move to the Jesuit University. Initially, the chancellor had no intention of leaving UWM for the position. When first propositioned by Marquette’s Board of Trustees on considering the seat, Lovell declined. But later in private spiritual reflection, Lovell came to reevaluate his options and go ahead and accept the position.
“It was never my plan, but one that God decided to lay out for me, and I’m just really glad that I decided to follow it,” Lovell said in a press conference at Marquette.
The news comes as a surprise for many students and faculty. Dr. Lovell was appointed as the eighth chancellor of UW-Milwaukee only three years ago in May of 2011, the shortest period of office by any chancellor at the university.
“My decision to step down as Chancellor of UW-Milwaukee has been the most difficult one of my professional career,” he said.
But in his short three-year stint as chancellor, Dr. Lovell has made some major progressive strides for the university. His repertoire of undertakings include the overseeing of the UW-Milwaukee Initiative, a $240 million project including the construction of UWM’s Innovation Campus in Wauwatosa, the expansion of the School of Freshwater Sciences, the foundation of the Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex and the renovation of the campus’s Northwest Quadrant.
Lovell also brought forth social, academic and economic initiatives. His feats include Access to Success, a program designed to keep freshman academically focused, the Better Place to Work initiative, focused on improving campus climate for students and faculty, and countless business partnerships in Milwaukee and abroad.
“Mike has shown an unwavering commitment to UW-Milwaukee’s core mission of being a major research institution while also providing access to a diverse population of Wisconsin residents,” said University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross. “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.”
Marquette is in an administrative transition period as a whole. Finding a president for the school was only one of many positions Marquette is seeking to fill before the start of the fall semester. Other vacancies include provost, athletic director and director of admissions, vacancies Dr. Lovell will now have a say in filling.
This begs the question of who will be next in line to fill the shoes of the chancellor at UWM.
“We’re going to miss Mike Lovell, he was a life force on this campus,” said UWM Vice Chancellor Tom Luljak. “I think whoever replaces Mike is going to have to come in with that same energy and that same commitment and beyond to serve this community.”