Michael R. Lovell, current chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, was unanimously elected as the 24th, and first lay president, of Marquette University by the board of trustees on March 26, according to a press release from the university.Michael Lovell

Lovell, a member of Holy Family Parish, Whitefish Bay, will succeed interim president Jesuit Fr. Robert A. Wild, effective Aug. 1.

“As a devout Catholic, my faith has always served as the cornerstone of my life,” Lovell, active with his wife, Amy, with the Newman Center on the UWM campus, said in the release. “Having the ability to openly share my faith in my professional career is something that I have always wanted to do. I am truly humbled and excited to become part of the Marquette family at this historic moment. Working with the Jesuit community, faculty, staff, students and alumni, I believe that through its mission to serve others, Marquette can not only make a transformational impact on Milwaukee, but across the globe.”

John Ferraro, vice chair of the Marquette Board of Trustees and chair of the presidential search committee, said in the release that Lovell is uniquely qualified for the position because of his educational background, executive-level experience leading complex institutions and personal community involvement.

“Moreover, Dr. Lovell is a man of faith, who effectively brings teams together and exemplifies the Ignatian motto of cura personalis, making him the accomplished leader he is today,” he said in the release.

Lovell, the father of four – Marissa, 19, Matthew, 15, Anna, 14 and Kevin, 11 – is a scholar, researcher, educator and leader who holds three academic degrees in mechanical engineering, including a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. 

His has published more than 100 articles, written a dozen book chapters and co-authored “Tribology for Scientists and Engineers.”

He has also been a lead or co-lead investigator for nearly $30 million in externally funded research grants from foundations, businesses and government agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and the Department of Education, and his research has led to several technological breakthroughs. Lovell, who was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in early March, holds seven patents and 14 provisional patents.

Lovell has also developed coursework, fostered a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship for faculty, staff and students, and helped to establish the App Brewery and launch the Student Start-Up Challenge at UWM – two reasons it was selected one of only 12 institutions in the nation for the prestigious National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance Pathways to Innovation Program.

He also received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Burt L. Newkirk Award, the Olympus Emerging Academic Innovator Award, and he was named a State of Wisconsin Distinguished Professor.

As chancellor, Lovell oversaw the UW-Milwaukee Initiative, a landmark $240 million capital construction and renovation program, including its 89-acre Innovation Campus in Wauwatosa, the expansion of its School of Freshwater Sciences, the first phase of the Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex and the Northwest Quadrangle Redevelopment Plan. He opened the Zilber School of Public Health’s new academic and research facility and fostered a new sense of entrepreneurship and innovation on the campus and in the greater Milwaukee community, according to the release.

The release also noted that Lovell is known for establishing powerful partnerships among the academic, industrial and non-profit sectors; in 2009, he co-founded, and later became board chair of, the Midwest Energy Research Consortium, a partnership between Marquette, UWM, Milwaukee School of Engineering, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and numerous regional power and energy companies including Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls and We Energies.

Lovell’s partnership with Johnson Controls on Energy Storage was recognized as best-in-class nationally with the Edison Gold Medal, and locally with the Milwaukee Business Journal Eureka Award.

Lovell serves as founding co-chair of Milwaukee Succeeds, a broad-based, communitywide collaboration aiming to improve educational outcomes for every child in Milwaukee; and as an executive board member of the Water Council, BizStarts Milwaukee, Scale-Up Milwaukee, the Center for International Health, the Milwaukee Educational Partnership, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the Coalition of Urban Metropolitan Universities.

Lovell, who started his career at ANSYS, a firm that develops engineering simulation software, before serving as a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Kentucky, served for five years as associate dean for research at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Engineering before joining UWM, the release said.

Charles “Chuck” Swoboda, board chair, said in the written statement that hiring the first lay president is a historic moment in Marquette’s 133-year tradition. “Dr. Lovell brings the experience and vision to effectively lead Marquette amidst the challenging dynamics of higher education today,” he said. “He clearly values the transformative experience of a Marquette education and, as our president, he will have the ability to lead and live out his Catholic faith as a servant leader.”

An inauguration ceremony will be planned for fall.