JS: Robert Wild, Michael Lovell look ahead to historic transition at Marquette University

Next week, a priest will make history when he hands off the top job at Marquette University to an engineer.

Interim President Father Robert A. Wild will move down one floor of Zilber Hall to work part time in fundraising. And former University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Michael Lovell will move in as the first lay president in the Jesuit school's 133-year history.

Marquette is the 10th of 28 Jesuit universities around the country to transition from a priest to a lay president.

Wild saw this day coming more than 20 years ago, when he was on the Marquette University Board of Trustees in the early 1990s. He knew the number of Jesuits who potentially could lead the university was quickly dwindling, and he lobbied for the change against vocal opponents, he said.

One former chairman of the board proclaimed the change would happen over his dead body, Wild recalled.

The trustee has since died.

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