President Lovell answers student questions at Fireside Chat

Laura Litwin, News Stringer

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Around 30 students attended University President Michael Lovell’s Fireside Chat in the Sensenbrenner Reading Room on Oct. 29 and heard him discuss everything from a grocery store near campus to Belgian waffle makers.

The forum, hosted by Marquette Student Government, featured student-submitted questions that included topics varying from fundraising, diversity and inclusion to collaborating with the Milwaukee community.Zack Wallace, MUSG president and senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the forum was created to make an intimate environment for students to ask questions. It’s also an effort to increase student attendance at each semester’s presidential forum.

“There are a couple of really key outcomes for this type of event,” Wallace said. “One is that we, as students, get to interact with our university leader, Dr. Lovell, in a really personal way.”

“I’m excited to hear about how the master plan process is moving on,” said Courtney Guc, a MUSG senator and junior in the College of Business Administration. “I hope (the forum) proves that MUSG and campus administration really want students to do well.”

Lovell confirmed rumors about a grocery store being built close to campus.

“Bringing in a grocery store is the highest priority for what we’ve been doing with West Side Partners,” Lovell said. “I can’t get into specifics, but we’re getting pretty close and we’re getting fairly serious with two different supermarkets. I will say that it will be in the New West Side and it will be very accessible to students.”

Lovell addressed questions about the campus master plan, including ones about student involvement and land recently acquired by the university. He said there will be another campus-wide forum for students to provide input on the plan, and it will take place in March or April next semester.

There are no plans to begin construction on the recently acquired land near Straz Tower, but the university hopes to develop an athletic performance research center in that space.

Lovell also answered questions about fundraising and campaign plans for it. He said fundraising and donations to the university’s endowment could keep the cost of tuition from rising each year.

“We have not been in campaign (mode) on this campus for 10 years and so it’s time for us to step forward,” Lovell said. “We will be launching a campaign this July 1st.”

Diversity and inclusion was another topic Lovell discussed at the chat. He said there will be a forum in three weeks to discuss the results of this year’s campus climate study.

“(The goal is) to come up with three actionable items to do this year that will help with the campus climate, particularly in making it more inclusive,” Lovell said.

Students also asked questions about more light-hearted topics. One wanted to know what Lovell thought about putting Belgian waffle makers with the Marquette logo on them in the dining halls.

“Well, we actually did some research on this,” Lovell said, amid laughter from the audience.

After the event, Lovell talked about the student’s questions and how the discussion went.

“I think it was a great conversation,” Lovell said. “The student body here is so much more engaged and they care so much about the campus. To be a leader when people care so much, it’s really enheartening.”

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