EDITORIAL: Michael Lovell’s openness promising for MU

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EDITORIAL: Michael Lovell’s openness promising for MU

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz / rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz / rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz / rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz / rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

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Photo by Rebecca Rebholz / rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz / rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

Marquette’s next university president, Michael Lovell, had a change of heart after being approached by the university’s Presidential Search Committee. He had previously established himself as a well-liked chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and in his initial comments to the Marquette community Wednesday, he expressed reservations in leaving UWM behind.

Based on those initial comments, as well as the bridge he said he hopes to build between the two universities, Lovell seems to be a great fit for Marquette.

Lovell will be the first non-Jesuit to lead Marquette in its history, and it seems the transition into his presidency will be a smooth one. Lovell voiced his desire to approach university issues like a Jesuit and is clearly grounded in his Catholic faith. He told the Tribune in an exclusive interview that his decision to come to Marquette was driven by his desire to incorporate his Catholic identity more fully into his work, a task not permissible while working at a public institution.

But the university’s first lay president also has the opportunity to take action on campus issues that may have split our previous presidents between their commitments to Jesuit ideals and student interests. If students lead another effort to bring FemSex back to Marquette, or if new issues regarding sexuality on campus arise as they consistently have for the past several years, we hope Lovell’s position as a layperson will allow him to address student needs more freely.

Lovell has the opportunity to take a progressive stance on these issues as the first Marquette president without obligations to act as a priest.

By all accounts, Lovell has already established his desire to act in the interest of students, to have conversations with them and take their interests into account.

At UWM, he committed to holding office hours and even joined students in a running club on campus with this purpose in mind. These ideas are great to increase student involvement with university leaders and gain a substantial amount of student input, and we hope they continue at Marquette. The Tribune is eager to take advantage of this openness.

The president’s role at a university is to guide the institution toward big-picture goals. Lovell has already offered some of his broad ideas for the long-term, including the construction of new facilities on campus and extending programming for students. But there is lots of work that needs to be done first, including filling four positions on the University’s Leadership Council: one athletic director, one dean of admissions, one business dean and one DPS chief.

During his conversation with the Tribune, Lovell said hiring a coach or an athletic director is a competitive process that requires swift action. Several news outlets noted Monday that the absence of a university president and athletic director might dissuade potential coaching candidates from considering Marquette, so it seems things are falling into place for the job to be filled soon.

And while we understand the immediacy of the basketball coach hire, we hope Lovell realizes how the lack of academic leadership continues to affect students. The hiring process may be different for those positions, but it needs to be given the same level of attention as the athletic positions to get Marquette’s academic sphere back on its feet.

Lovell also discussed establishing partnerships for social innovation projects between Marquette and UWM. Marquette already has a strong commitment to these initiatives and will benefit from more practical opportunities to implement them across Milwaukee.

The decision was made just ahead of the search committee’s deadline in April, and on paper, Lovell seems like a great fit for the presidential spot. After being chosen as UWM’s chancellor in 2011, Lovell set similar goals for himself and the university and was able to follow through on them. During his three years as chancellor, he fulfilled many of those promises: staying close to students, fundraising successfully, operating in a strong provost leadership model and reaching out to the many resources Milwaukee has to offer. There is no reason to think that he will not continue to follow through on those commitments while leading Marquette.

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