Students, staff, faculty, members of the Marquette community, and even kittens joined University President Michael Lovell in celebrating his birthday March 21 at the Alumni Memorial Union.
Lovell’s birthday was Sunday, March 20, and Marquette University posted on Instagram, “Happy birthday, @preslovell! Thank you for always striving to #BeTheDifference for @marquetteu, Milwaukee and beyond. #WeAreMarquette #LovellStrong.
Steven Frieder, senior adviser to the president and general secretary, led the crowd on March 21 in singing “Happy Birthday” to Lovell.
Those who attended the event then lined up to sign a birthday card for Lovell and to get a piece of cake. They served a marble cake with white, blue and gold icing.
“Thank you to everyone who stopped by for a slice of birthday cake,” Lovell said via Instagram. “Grateful to be part of this wonderful @marquetteu community.”
“I draw my energy and my inspiration from our students. I am grateful to everyone who came for the conversation and the birthday cake to celebrate with me, and I look forward to the year ahead,” Lovell said in an email.
University spokeswoman Lynn Griffith said Lovell is grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate his birthday and take cake with the Marquette community because it means so much to him.
Father Michael Maher, associate professor of history and pastoral minister at Wells Street Hall, said he appreciated Lovell’s work and wanted to come to the celebration to support him.
“[I’m] glad to have him here with the students,” said Maher. “Glad everyone is back after spring break.”
Also appreciative of the turnout, retired chemistry teacher Michael Ryan said he had known Lovell for a long time and was pleased with the number of students who came out to support him.
“The students really responded to him – I’m really impressed with that and what they’ve done in the year, a tough year,” Ryan said.
In the past year, Lovell has been diagnosed with sarcoma— a rare form of cancer that affects the bones or soft tissues.
“He [Lovell] appreciates the support, prayers and well wishes he and his family have received, especially over the past six months,” Griffith said.
Despite his diagnosis, Lovell is still active around campus. Going to basketball games, watching the construction progress of the new College of Business Administration building, attending Ash Wednesday Mass, touring classrooms and more while undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
He also delivered his annual presidential address at AMU’s ballrooms two weeks ago after last year’s speech was held in a virtual environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After noticing the Marquette Today email regarding Lovell’s birthday celebration, Daniel Ballarin, a sophomore at the College of Health Sciences, said he assumed Lovell would be attending that event as well and went to celebrate with him.
Going to receive a piece of cake, Lovell struck up a conversation with Ballarin.
“He [Lovell] asked me what my hoodie was,” Ballarin said. “I thought he was going to be here because the last time he said he was going to pass out for the finals… he was there then so I thought he was going to be here also today.”
This story was written by Julia Abuzzahab. She can be contacted at [email protected]