Michael Lovell's legacy; Acting MU president shares his connection

For the first time, FOX6 News learns more about the final days of Marquette President Michael Lovell's life – and the legacy he left on others and the university.

"When you lose a close friend, it’s always difficult. When I pull in every day, I see his parking space where he parked every day," said Kimo Ah Yun, who shared his heartbreak on the campus of Marquette University – and is now serving as acting president following Lovell's death. "I still speak with Amy Lovell regularly, we text. For her, it’s a very difficult journey. I think part of that we’re walking that together."

Michael Lovell died while in Rome in early June. The 57-year-old was on a pilgrimage with his wife Amy, the Society of Jesus and the board trustees. Ah Yun was also there.

Michael Lovell

"When you sit in the space where St. Ignatius prayed, when you sit in the space where St. Ignatius grew up, it has a different sort of impact," Ah Yun said. 

Lovell had battled a rare form of cancer, but felt good enough to travel to Europe. He fell ill on the trip.

"I was with him on Saturday and had a chance to speak with him when he was in the hospital. Brief, but a good conversation on Saturday which is the day before he passed. Even a day before, he was still mentally sharp," Ah Yun said.

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Lovell always believed in his faith – which is something Kimo Ah Yun focused on while speaking at his friend’s funeral.

"His last Mass was in Gesu church. I think the parallels of Mike being where Ignatius was fitting. He died in Rome. One of the most holy cities on a Sunday. You can’t script that," Ah Yun said. 

Ah Yun now serves as acting president – adding to his duties of provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Kimo Ah Yun

"Do you want to be the next president of Marquette?" FOX6's Aaron Maybin asked. 

"I want to say right now I want to be the person who is the best acting president at Marquette or anywhere right now," Ah Yun replied. 

Ah Yun said he is focused on the stability of campus and helping the university move forward.

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"We’re nearing our 150th anniversary. I want to lay the foundation for the next president, whoever that is, to be successful," Ah Yun said. 

All this change and settling in is happening as the university plans to welcome thousands of students from across the country to campus.

"We want to make students who care about the world and want to go and make a difference and make it a better world," Ah Yun said. 

Ah Yun said Michael Lovell made a difference on campus. You can see it in the structures standing and being built here, including a new wellness and recreation facility.

"His fingerprints will always be on Marquette," Ah Yun said. 

Marquette's Board of Trustees will lead the search for a new university president.