UWM Vice Chancellor: 'Marquette is lucky to get Mike'

CREATED Mar 26, 2014

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JODI BECKER: Tell me a little about how you guys got the news that your head man is leaving?

UWM VICE CHANCELLOR TOM LULJAK: The chancellor sent a message to the campus this morning just after the Marquette board made its decision and Mike shared with the campus his reasons for going. As you’ll see in reading it, it really comes down to his deep Catholic faith and his desire to go ahead and practice that faith in a very public area like Marquette.

BECKER: Did this come as a surprise to UWM?

LULJAK: Mike is a beloved figure here. Mike has had enormous support from people across the campus because number one he is extremely talented  - he is a man of great vision - but he's also just a really really nice guy and fits in perfectly with our faculty and staff. The students have loved him and he has been very visible on campus. It was a surprise I think for many people, if there is any blessing here, at least we get to keep him in Milwaukee. It will be a real asset to the community knowing he is still here and working across town.

BECKER: I'm not trying to pick any fights, but does UWM feel a little bit slighted at least? It’s a cross town rivalry kind of.

LULJAK: Well you know we've actually viewed Marquette as great partners. We do a lot of academic research together, we respect tremendously the work that is being done there, and I think the feeling is mutual. I think the competition you'll see is more likely on the soccer field or on the basketball court. So we've always had great relationship with Marquette. We believe they are lucky to get Mike, because he is the full package, he is going to be a wonderful leader for them. The good news for us is we have a great track record of strong leadership at UWM.  We're confident with the great faculty and the great staff we have.

BECKER: If it was a surprise to UW-Milwaukee that he was departing, is it possible that departure when it does happen can still be on good terms?

LULJAK: Well I think it is going to be on very good terms, Mike in his message to campus talked about his deep love for the campus, campus community and the mission we have here. It was his Catholic faith that really was the determining factor in choosing to go across town, and who can challenge that? I mean this is a decision that Mike made from the heart. He’s a man of great integrity, great character.

BECKER: Do any qualities of his tenure ring very true enough that the panthers are going to be looking for similar qualities in whoever the new candidate would be?

LULJAK: Well the decision on replacing Mike will be based on input from the campus and the board of regents…Ray Cross, the president of the system, will I'm sure will do a terrific job in identifying what the system is looking for and then lay out the process for that replacement.

BECKER: Have you been given any timeline for what that would be yet?

LULJAK: We haven't and in Mike’s message to campus this morning he indicated that President Cross has supported Mike’s plan to actually stay here for several more months so he can finish work on a number of major initiatives, like a strategic plan and a major project involving our academic planning which will be putting us on course for the next several years. So he’ll be on campus, he wont be gone tomorrow. My understanding is he begins his new job at Marquette in late summer or August.

BECKER: Anything else you want to make sure UWM gets to say as they learn they are going to have to say goodbye?

LULJAK: I think the message that we want to share with everyone is that we are going to be in a good place because we have so many terrific people here. While we are sad to be losing our leader, Mike is a terrific guy, the good news is we have a fabulous faculty and staff and frankly great students, and that doesn’t change The core of the institution remains and it is going to continue to be a fabulous  place for our students to come and learn, and the university is not going to veer from its course of serving the community and being a real spark plug for economic development in Wisconsin.