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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

President Lovell passes after battle with sarcoma

Photo courtesy Marquette University.

Marquette University President Michael Lovell, 57, passed away Sunday after his three-year battle with sarcoma. 

Lovell was traveling abroad with his family in Italy and had stopped in Rome as part of a Jesuit pilgrimage when he fell ill. He then went to a hospital in Rome to receive care. Throughout treatment, Lovell said his relationship with God has only grown stronger.

“Relationships are often the most important thing in your life,” Lovell said. “When you face your own mortality, you realize that your relationship with God is right, because you don’t know when your last day is going to be and when it comes you want to make sure that you’re prepared spiritually for what lies next.”

After Italy, Lovell and his wife Amy were going to visit Portugal to hike El Camino de Santiago or “The Way of St. James.” The trip was a bucket list experience for Lovell.

In 2021, Lovell was diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Although doctors predicted he had two years to live, Lovell was coming up on three years this summer. Lovell was treating his cancer with the drug trabectedin. After previously receiving immunotherapy and t-cell therapy.

Lovell was a prolific runner and since his diagnosis in 2021, there have been several races for cancer research in his honor. In 2021, student-athletes coordinated the first #LovellStrong 5k Fun Run, and just this year, Lovell hosted the Fit2Be Cancer Free Challenge walk. The President’s Fun Run was also introduced this year, and it raised money for the Stronger than Sarcoma fund. He had planned to run in the Race to Cure Sarcoma in Milwaukee on July 13. 

In previous interviews, Lovell thanked the Marquette community for their support. 

I really appreciate the prayers and well wishes I get to this day, and it’s not just from campus but the broader alumni network I hear from all the time,” Lovell said. “I think people are what make Marquette special, so it’s been really good for me to see the great people we have in our community.”

Lovell became 24th Marquette University president in 2014 after former interim president Robert A. Wild. Prior to his time at Marquette, Lovell was the chancellor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

During Lovell’s tenure, the university built The Commons, the Athletic and Human Performance Research Center and O’Brien Hall. Additionally, construction was started on the Lemonis Center for Student Success, an updated version of the Helfaer Recreational Center and the relocation of the College of Nursing.

When asked about next steps the university wrote in an email, “We understand people may have more questions, but today’s announcement is all we have to share on this very difficult day. We will communicate further updates when we have them.”

Provost Kimo Ah Yun will serve as acting president until a new president is hired.

There will be a prayer vigil for President Lovell June 10 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the St. Joan of Arc Chapel. There will also be a counselor on campus for faculty and staff, and students can use the Marquette Counseling Center for grief counseling.

This story was written by Izzy Fonfara Drewel. She can be reached at [email protected].

Updated 6/10: An update was made to fix minor spelling mistakes, include counseling information and add information about Provost Kimo Ah Yun’s acting president status.

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About the Contributor
Izzy Fonfara Drewel
Izzy Fonfara Drewel, Production Director
Izzy Fonfara Drewel is a senior from Papillion, Nebraska majoring in journalism with a double minor in music and Spanish. This school year she will be serving as the Production Director. In previous years, she made her home on the Arts & Entertainment desk as the Executive Arts & Entertainment Editor, and she was the Executive Opinions Editor last year. Outside of the Wire, Izzy plays the trumpet in the Marquette University Bands and spends her free time trying new restaurants and playing card games with her friends. She is excited to pilot this position this year and build a strong staff that is confident in their abilities.

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