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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Michael R Lovell


Marquette University

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Founded: 1881

Industry: Higher Education

Michael R. Lovell became Marquette University’s 24th and first lay president in 2014, but it’s a job for which he initially declined to be considered. A meeting with former President Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., changed Lovell’s mind.

“He didn’t try to talk me into it,” Lovell said. “He said, ‘Stand before God, and consider what path would give you the most fulfillment in your life.’

“It became clear to me I was called to Milwaukee … to become Marquette’s president,” he said. “It was never really my plan, but I’m just glad I decided to follow it.”

Under Lovell’s leadership, Marquette has undertaken multiple campus construction projects, including The Commons, Marquette’s first newly constructed residence hall in more than 50 years; the Athletic and Human Performance Research Center; the Physician Assistant Studies Building; and the College of Business Administration building, which is currently under construction. Future projects include a reimagined Wellness and Recreation Center, a new home for the College of Nursing and a BioDiscovery District.

“President Lovell does all of this with dogged determination and grace, particularly as he undergoes treatment for a recent cancer diagnosis,” his team said. “His leadership has garnered strong support from the Marquette family, an unabashedly loud cheering section that encourages him to continue living #LovellStrong.”

Lovell holds three mechanical engineering degrees including a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. He has received awards from the National Science Foundation, Society of Manufacturing Engineers and numerous other organizations; is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and National Academy of Inventors; and holds seven patents and 14 provisional patents.

Prior to Marquette, Lovell worked at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as chancellor and, previously, dean of its engineering college. He has held academic and research leadership positions at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Kentucky.

Lovell helped create the Near West Side Partners, a nonprofit focused on strengthening economic development, housing, neighborhood identity and safety. Together with his wife, Amy, Lovell co-founded Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee (SWIM), a community-wide effort addressing generational trauma.

Lovell serves on the boards of Children’s Wisconsin, Milwaukee Film, the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars and the Big East Conference. He is a member of the executive committees of The Water Council and the Higher Education Regional Alliance. Lovell serves as chair of the board for the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He is also a member of the Council on Competitiveness and co-chairs its University Leadership Forum.

“People don’t connect to you through your strengths, they connect with you through your weaknesses,” Lovell said. “As a leader, you shouldn’t always position yourself as strong and without faults. Rather, you need to be vulnerable and share your everyday struggles and fears with others. By doing so, they will more easily relate to you and follow you.”

Presented by:

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Did you know?

President Lovell is an avid runner, biker and triathlete, having competed in hundreds of competitions at various distances and levels.


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