© 2023 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
A Special WUWM News SeriesThe Milwaukee River allowed commerce and industry to thrive during the city's formative years and provided recreation. However, disregard for the river's health led to decades of decay.WUWM News explores recent developments to rejuvenate the Milwaukee River and their success at drawing people back to the city's historic arterial.

UWM after Lovell: Still a Driver of Innovation and Workforce Development


Outgoing Chancellor Mike Lovell has been connected to high-profile projects off campus, such as the School of Freshwater Sciences and the School of Public Health.

He says all are close to his heart, but one stands out - the new research park on the old county grounds in Wauwatosa.

“I think the most ambitious project that we worked on was Innovation Campus, and the fact that we’re opening our first building in just a couple of weeks was something that I’m very proud of, because that project really took getting a lot of people throughout the region aligned together, and that project, I think, will be transformational for Milwaukee,” Lovell says.

The goal of the research park is to hatch ideas and grow businesses.

While Lovell has been overseeing the projects, he says the sky won’t fall when he leaves UWM.

“As a chancellor, my main role is kind of helping set the vision of the university and raising funds and bringing in resources. But the day to day operations, and all the great things that happen, all of those faculty and staff and students are still going to be here,” Lovell says.

Even though Lovell’s new university might compete with the old, he says UWM plays a unique role in southeastern Wisconsin.

“If you look at any region in the country that is doing well economically and experiencing growth, there's always a major research university helping drive that growth, and when I think about the future of Milwaukee, we need a strong UWM to drive the technology and develop the workforce that companies and organizations within this region need, to be globally competitive,” Lovell says.

Julia Taylor agrees that UWM’s success is intertwined with that of the region. She’s head of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, which works to make the region successful and attractive.

Taylor says three significant collaborations have put UWM on the national map as a research facility:

  • The Water Council and the establishment of the School of Freshwater Sciences, and the collaboration that’s occurred between the corporations and the researchers and the university at large
  • The partnership with Johnson Controls, looking at new forms of energy generation and research
  • The Wisconsin Energy Research Consortium

The consortium is a collaboration of universities, technical colleges and businesses. Together they work to develop a workforce for the energy industry. Mike Lovell is chair.
Julia Taylor says she hopes his successor at UWM will find even more ways for it to partner with the community.

José Vasquez will help choose the next Milwaukee chancellor. He serves on the UW Board of Regents. Vasquez says he’ll look for someone possessing the vision Lovell shared with his two predecessors, Carlos Santiago and Nancy Zimpher. Vasquez says all three believed in the “Wisconsin Idea.”

“And the Wisconsin Idea is that the university has an impact beyond just the simple geographic boundaries of the university, or the campus of the university. And I think that Nancy and Carlos and Mike truly understood what that meant. It meant going into the community and really being of service to the community in many, many ways,” Vasquez says.

Vasquez says he has high hopes strong candidates will apply. Yet he’s concerned some might be turned off by the state’s reduced support for the UW System.

“I think we still have a national, international reputation as a good system…but I am nervous. I’m nervous about our pay ranges for chancellors, as I am nervous about the pay that we are able to give to our faculty and other staff,” Vasquez says.

The regents must find more than a new leader for UWM. This year, chancellors at three other UW campuses are retiring. And the UW system must hire someone to lead its network of colleges and extensions.

UW-Milwaukee’s chancellor stunned the campus community last week, when he accepted a job across town. Later this year, Lovell will become president of Marquette University. He says the move to the Jesuit school will allow him to practice his Catholic faith in his professional life.

Ann-Elise Henzl became News Director in September 2017.