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“The work before us is a marathon, not a sprint. Will you join me, MU Nation?” @PresLovell
On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked if anything has happened since I joined Marquette University as its first lay president that confirmed I made the right choice. My reply has been that something happens every day that lets me know I did. Here are some examples of what has occurred since my family and I joined the Marquette family on July 1.
No one would ever consider me a candidate for appearing on Dancing with the Stars. But with the help of students attending the inaugural ball, I found myself doing the Cupid Shuffle. And with the guidance of residents of Cobeen Hall, I was among those doing the Wobble Dance at halftime of our men’s soccer game against the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Maybe it was the dance that helped the team recapture the Milwaukee Cup from our crosstown competitors. Regardless, these were welcomed gestures of fellowship on behalf of our students.
There has been a further sense of fellowship and more of a spiritual connection with our students when I’ve been able to attend Tuesday night Mass at St. Joan of Arc Chapel. Those feelings were intensified Sept. 18, when the inaugural Mass was held at Church of the Gesu. I was overwhelmed by emotions as I stood at the front of the church to offer a reflection, looking out at my family and friends who had traveled short and long distances to be part of the celebration. It was one of those moments that lets you know you are being sustained by the Holy Spirit.
The inauguration ceremony the next day was also filled with emotions, this time fueled by the incredible energy in the Al McGuire Center. Major speaking events such as an inauguration are fascinating because, until you get on the stage for the actual event, there’s no way to gauge just how much the audience is going to support the presentation. When I rehearsed in the Al that morning, it was a little flat. But I knew that was in part from there being no audience. The thousands of people who filled the chairs and bleachers in the afternoon delivered all the energy I needed and more.
It has not been just the large events that have convinced me that coming to Marquette was the right thing to do. During inauguration week, I was rushing through the Alumni Memorial Union from one event to another when a student stopped me for just a moment and handed me a handwritten note. Brooke Miller, a College of Business Administration sophomore, wrote: “Words cannot express how thankful the Marquette community is to have you as our president.” Brooke went on to tell me how she checked out my Twitter account (@PresLovell) and saw that I had gone to McCormick Hall the night before to enjoy a hot cookie. For her, that was the example that made her want to express her appreciation for my efforts to engage with students and make an impact on their lives.
It’s worth noting that every day, students do the exact same thing to me: make the effort to engage me and make an impact on my life. Marquette is the fourth university to employ me and is by far the friendliest. It extends far beyond students, with faculty and staff also taking time to extend a welcome and share positive and constructive insights, either in person or by email.
After my first several meetings with alumni, I knew a warm welcome was being extended to me by those who have already graduated, too. I look forward to getting to know alumni in the coming year through the campus, community and athletics events that many of you return to, as well as at the “Journey Continues” tour across the country being coordinated by University Advancement.
I know I made the right choice to come to Marquette University and look forward to the new heights we’ll reach in the years ahead.
Michael R. Lovell