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Marquette University President Michael Lovell dies of rare cancer in Italy

By Chris Benson
President Michael Lovell, 57, was remembered as "a fixture of the Milwaukee community who pushed Marquette and Milwaukee to ask what could be rather than settling for the status quo." Photo courtesy of Marquette University
President Michael Lovell, 57, was remembered as "a fixture of the Milwaukee community who pushed Marquette and Milwaukee to ask what could be rather than settling for the status quo." Photo courtesy of Marquette University

June 10 (UPI) -- The president of Wisconsin's Marquette University, Michael Lovell, died in Italy while battling a rare cancer, the university announced.

Lovell, 57, was called "a fixture of the Milwaukee community" in a university statement "who pushed Marquette and Milwaukee to ask what could be rather than settling for the status quo."

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Lovell was in Rome with his wife, Amy, Marquette's board of trustees and members of the Society of Jesus on a "Jesuit formation pilgrimage" when Lovell reportedly "fell ill and was taken to a hospital in Rome," the university said Sunday.

He had been battling sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in a diagnosis he publicly revealed in 2021.

"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 told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2022.

A father of four, Lovell was chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee before his appointment in 2014 as Marquette University's 24th president, according to his official university biography. He previously held leadership roles at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Kentucky.

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"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," Lovell said in 2022.

Along with his wife, the university described Lovell as "trailblazers in directly addressing our region's mental health issues."

An executive with the Milwaukee-based Bader Philanthropies said Lovell was a man who was "physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually so strong."

"It's a huge, huge loss," Frank Cumberbatch, Bader's vice president, told WTMJ in Milwaukee. "But if he were here, he would say, 'Guys, don't talk like that. Let's just carry on. Let's go for a jog. Let's find a kid to talk to.'"

"That was Michael Lovell," he said.

Marquette University said Lovell's contributions as head of the 12,000 student campus "will be remembered forever, just as his loss echoes throughout our community."

Provost Kimo Ah Yun will serve as acting president.

Notable deaths of 2024

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Cast member Donald Sutherland attends the premiere of "Ad Astra" at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on September 18, 2019. The award-winning actor died at age 88 on June 20. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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