Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki and Marquette University President Michael Lovell lead a procession from Pere Marquette Park to the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee during a celebration of the archdiocese’s 175th anniversary in 2019. (File photo)

Michael Lovell was installed as the 24th president of Marquette University in 2014 under the theme “Ignited in Faith. Alive in Inquiry. Forward in Service.”

He lived each element in ways no one could have imagined back in 2014 until the day of his death, Sunday, June 9.

Funeral arrangements were pending at press time for Lovell, 57, who passed away following a three-year battle with cancer. Lovell revealed in September 2021 that he had sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

“He faced his challenges with strength and courage. He was a man of faith and an example for all. A true loss to his family, the Marquette community, the city of Milwaukee and the Catholic Church,” said Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki.

Marquette quickly offered spiritual and mental health resources to staff and students. An all-day campus prayer vigil was planned for Monday, June 10, at the St. Joan of Arc Chapel on the Marquette campus, with noon Masses set for Tuesday through Friday at the chapel as well to help students and staff coping with the loss. Counselors also were made available for staff and students.

Lovell and his wife, Amy, were in Rome with members of the Society of Jesus and the Board of Trustees on a Jesuit formation pilgrimage when he fell ill and was taken to a hospital, Marquette University said in a statement.

“President Lovell’s decade of leadership at Marquette was marked by a deep commitment to innovation, entrepreneurship, and community renewal and development — consistent with the university’s Catholic, Jesuit mission that animated him,” said the university’s statement from Todd Adams, Chair, Marquette University Board of Trustees; Dr. Kimo Ah Yun, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs; and Joel Pogodzinski, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

“An entrepreneur at heart, President Lovell pushed Marquette and Milwaukee to ask what could be rather than settling for the status quo,” their statement said.

“Marquette University has always been a great institution in Milwaukee; President Dr. Michael Lovell made Marquette a great community partner,” Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said in a statement.

“His faith was deep, and his commitment to service went beyond the boundaries of the campus. He promoted community service, he worked to improve public safety, and his leadership with the Near West Side Partners elevated that organization in ways that would not have been possible without him,” Johnson said.

The Lovells co-founded SWIM, or Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee, a trauma-informed resource center that aims to foster community wellness in Milwaukee.

“Mike was the toughest human being I’ve ever met. Mike’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength were beyond impressive. I knew Mike as a man who loved his family, his faith and Marquette University, and believed in helping others,” said Frank Cumberbatch, SWIM Board President.

Lovell, the first layman to lead the 133-year-old Jesuit institution, came to Milwaukee in 2008 to lead the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.

He was promoted to interim UWM chancellor two years later and made the permanent chancellor in 2011, three years before he accepted the Marquette position.

“It all has to do with being at a place where I can practice my faith in professional life. For a while, I at least contemplated being a priest, and being able to talk about my faith publicly is something I could not do in my previous role, but I’ve had more speeches in my time at Marquette about my faith and religion than I’ve had in my entire career. That is something I’ve always longed to do,” Lovell told the Catholic Herald as he began at Marquette.

“Marquette is a special place; what is unique about Marquette — this is my fourth university — is how much people care about each other and how much they care about the institution,” Lovell said in the interview.

Lovell held three academic degrees in mechanical engineering, including a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. As a researcher, his work led to several technological breakthroughs, and he held seven patents and 14 provisional patents. In 2014, he was formally inducted into the National Academy of Inventors.

Lovell is survived by Amy and four children. Funeral arrangements will be shared at