Presidential address acknowledges community accomplishments


Photo by Helen Dudley

University President Michael Lovell gave his fourth presidential address Jan. 17 in the Alumni Memorial Union. Lovell acknowledged people in the Marquette community and announced new plans for the campus.

Lovell first announced four recipients of the Difference Makers Awards. Recipients included members of Youth Empowered to Succeed, Michael Schlappi and his team and students who raised money for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and Marquette University Police Department officers Paul Zientek, Brian Larson and Jesse Nelson.

YES received the award for their work with local middle school students. Lovell said eight of their students who previously could not swim or ride a bicycle competed in the USA Triathlon Youth National Championships in West Chester, Ohio.

Cristofer Borghese, Paola Canting-Reyes, Alex Martinez Pellot, Danielle McCloskey Suarez and Irene Rojo Arisso received the award for their efforts to collect donations and raise money for Unidos por Puerto Rico. Lovell said the group raised over $9,000.

Zientek, Larson and Nelson were acknowledged for saving an unconscious woman from a heroin overdose last September. The trio of officers was also named “Top Cops” by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Schlappi and his team received the award for their research on growing rice in Wisconsin. Schlappi said rice will grow in areas where other crops cannot. This allows farmers to make better use of their land.

Lovell unveiled plans for an outdoor expansion of the 707 Hub. The 707 Hub Courtyard will be built in the current Henke Courtyard and was funded by a gift from Mary Henke and the Henke Foundation. Lovell said it will feature innovative spaces for collaboration, as well as fire pits to allow students to work outside nearly year-round.

Lovell also announced more details for the new President’s Challenge, which was part of the revamped Strategic Innovation Fund.

“In the inaugural year of the President’s Challenge, I’m putting out to the campus a call for proposals for serving Milwaukee’s neighborhoods by addressing inequities,” Lovell said.

The President’s Challenge is also working in partnership with Johnson Controls. Lovell said the challenge will fund one proposal with $250,000 for a two-year duration. Grady Crosby, Vice President of Public Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer at Johnson Controls, stressed the value of Marquette students “being the difference.”

“This is just another excellent example of how at Marquette, you continue to live out your motto of ‘Be the Difference,'” Crosby said.

Lovell ended the address by announcing that university staff would receive the week of July 4 off in addition to Christmas.

“As we thought about the changes on our campus and the remarkable progress that we’ve made, I know that all of you are under a lot of stress. I thought, ‘what would be the best thing that we can do to thank you?'” Lovell said. “What kept coming back was ‘what can we do around the gift of time?'”