Dr. Michael Lovell elected first lay president of Marquette University

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Dr. Michael Lovell has been elected as the 24th president of Marquette University. Dr. Lovell will be the first lay person to lead the school in its 133-year history. He will begin August 1st, succeeding Interim President Robert A. Wild, S.J.

"I need to learn more about the Jesuit traditions and the Jesuit community so that I can lead this institution in a way that it was formed," said Lovell.

It's welcome news to Alumni Association President Mary Kerr O'Toole, who made it up from Chicago for the official announcement.

"I am so glad that we can find someone that is a leader, devout Catholic, knows the challenges that are ahead of us," said Kerr O'Tolle.

One of those challenges is not lost on Dr. Lovell.

"Some of you may have heard we need a basketball coach. So, that`s first on the agenda," said Lovell.

Lovell also has to fill many other key positions.

"Obviously the way academic searches work typically, they happen during the academic year. So it may be difficult to fill many of the academic positions until next academic year rather than the summer," said Lovell.

Lovell came to UW-Milwaukee in 2008 and then took the chanvellor position in 2001. He never thought about an opportunity with Marquette, even when first approached. That changed after speaking with his spiritual leader.

"It became clear to me that I was being called to Milwaukee six years ago to ultimately become Marquette's first lay president. It was never my plan, but one that God had laid out for me. And I`m just really glad that I decided to follow it," said Lovell.

Lovell holds three academic degrees in mechanical engineering, including a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. Lovell has published more than 100 articles in leading engineering journals, has written a dozen book chapters and recently co-authored a book, Tribology for Scientists and Engineers.

Lovell earned $343,500 as chancellor at UW-Milwaukee.

CLICK HERE to read Lovell's message to the UWM Campus Community

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele released the following statement to FOX6 News:

“I am so happy and excited for Mike, the Lovell family and Marquette University. As Mike’s friend, I know he will excel at Marquette, and lead that great university to even greater heights. As County Executive, I’m happy Mike is staying in Milwaukee to continue to improve our community.

Milwaukee County is proud to work closely with both Marquette and UWM and this will strengthen those partnerships.”

Mayor Tom Barrett released this statement:

“Chancellor Lovell’s move to Marquette University is a win for Milwaukee.  During his time at UWM, Chancellor Lovell and I had a close working relationship as we partnered on numerous efforts to advance both UWM and the City of Milwaukee.  Our strong partnership certainly will continue as he takes on the challenges at Marquette.  Marquette is an extremely important part of Milwaukee and I look forward to working with Mike in his new role. I’m also confident UWM will find a leader that will continue to move that academic institution forward.”

Gov. Scott Walker responded on Twitter: