UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Michael Lovell announced his eagerness to begin his presidency at Marquette University in a press conference at the Marquette Student Union on Wednesday, naming God as his primary motivation for leaving UWM.
The press conference took place within 12 hours after Chancellor Lovell sent a mass email to the UW-Milwaukee student body that explained his decision to end his career as their chancellor on Aug. 1of this year.
“After hours of meditation and actually several sleepless nights, it became clear to me that I was being called to Milwaukee six years ago to ultimately become Marquette’s first lay president,” said Lovell, Marquette’s 24th president.
Lovell will be the first UW-Milwaukee Chancellor to remain in office for less than four years, excluding the short stint he spent as interim chancellor. He began his career at UWM in 2008 as a professor in Industrial Engineering and Dean of College of Engineering & Applied Sciences. Lovell was named chancellor in 2011.
Lovell’s eligibility for president was the result of recently passed Marquette legislation that removed university bylaws excluding lay persons from presidency. Lovell will be Marquette’s first non-ordained president since the university’s founding in 1881, although he is a devout Catholic. Lovell was elected president with a unanimous vote.
Lovell stressed that his decision to leave his position as chancellor was motivated by faith and not by dissatisfaction with the UWM community.
“This was truly a decision that was based on the ability for me to practice my faith in my professional life. I was very happy at [UWM],” Lovell said. “Many of you are aware that I think [UWM] is doing quite well.”
The press conference began with a speech from Charles Swoboda, Chair of Marquette’s Board of Trustees.
“Mike is a devout Catholic, a servant leader, and he is someone [with] who[m]… it really became clear that he puts the good of the organization above himself,” said Swoboda. “I am proud to say that I am confident and the board is confident that we have found the person to lead Marquette to the next chapter of its story in history.”
In his speech, Swoboda named Marquette’s current interim president, Rev. Robert Wild, as one of the most important players in the board’s decision to elect Lovell as president. Wild had come out of retirement in 2013 to fill the interim position.
Swoboda also named Vice Chair John Ferraro as a key influence in the hiring of Chancellor Lovell as president. Originally from London, Ferraro was elected to the board in 2006 and elected as vice chair in 2011.
Ferraro then took to the podium. He said that over 12,000 names had been identified candidates for the presidency. Candidates were located throughout the nation.
“We quickly got to those individuals that were the most promising – people like Mike who had a job and weren’t necessarily interested in leaving it,” Ferraro said.
At the press conference, Lovell said that he looked forward to strengthening Marquette’s student experience and to increasing university public service in Milwaukee. He said he has plans to construct new facilities and more programming on the Marquette campus. Lovell has focused on similar goals for the UW-Milwaukee campus.
In his Wednesday morning email, Lovell said that he will be available to complete his commitments to UWM until the end of July. At the press conference, Lovell announced that he plans to begin integrating himself into the Marquette community within “three to four weeks.” He informed conference attendees that he had about two years of vacation time left as chancellor for UW-Milwaukee.
Lovell said that he planned to quickly fill open Marquette administrative positions after he assumes the presidency in August. He said that finding a new basketball coach was at the top of his priorities.