Marquette University President Michael Lovell dies in Rome

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Marquette University President Michael Lovell has died in Rome after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 57.

Lovell had been suffering from sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the bones and soft tissues, when he died Sunday, university officials said in a news release posted on X, the social medial platform formerly known as Twitter. Lovell and his wife, Amy, were in Rome on a Jesuit formation pilgrimage when he fell ill and was taken to a hospital, according to the news release.

“When you don’t know how much time you have left, you want your days to be impactful and you want to do things that you love,” Lovell said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2022. “And so you ask me, why do I want to work? Well, you know, there are days that are hard, to be honest with you, and the last few years weren’t easy, but I love being on this campus. I love being in our community.”

Marquette officials are planning a prayer vigil for Lovell with details to be announced on the university's website when they become available, campus officials said in the news release.

“The days ahead will be full of heartbreak,” they said. “In this time of grief and sadness, let us come together as a community linked by faith and love.”

Lovell took over as the university's 24th president in 2014. Prior to become president he served as chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

He helped create the Near West Side Partners, a nonprofit focused on economic development, housing and safety in Marquette's neighborhood in Milwaukee, according to a profile on the Marquette website. He also helped start a number of other initiatives in Milwaukee, including the Midwest Energy Research Consortium, which promotes growth in the energy sector, and the Water Council, which focuses on innovation in fresh water technology.

He served on multiple boards, including the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He earned three mechanical engineering degrees, including a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh.

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Doc Rivers, who played for Marquette in the early 1980s, issued a statement calling Lovell a “gentle giant.”

“Dr. Lovell loved Marquette, and we loved him right back,” Rivers said. “He cared deeply about our students educationally. More importantly, he cared about their growth as people and future leaders in our community. My deepest condolences to his family. Thank you for sharing him with us. We are Marquette.”

University officials announced Monday afternoon that the school's Board of Trustees has picked Provost Kimo Ah Yun to serve as acting president. Ah Yun was named acting provost in 2018 and permanent provost in 2019.