Michael Lovell, recommended as the new chancellor of the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, is strongly committed to continuing UWM’s efforts to increase diversity and improve access.
“I deeply value UWM’s commitment to a dual mission of being a major research institution while also providing access to a diverse population of Wisconsin residents,” says Lovell. He notes that UWM is the most diverse institution in the UW System, and he plans to work with faculty, staff and students to build on that success.
On April 14, a search committee recommended that Lovell be named the next UWM chancellor. The UW System Board of Regents is expected to act on that recommendation at its next full meeting in June.
Lovell, who has served as interim chancellor since October 2010, came to UWM as dean of the College of Engineering & Applied Science (CEAS) in the late summer of 2008. One of his first public speeches was at an event for students finishing a summer program for engineering students from diverse backgrounds.
It is vital for the U.S. economy that more young people, and particularly young people of diverse backgrounds, to choose careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, Lovell told those incoming first-year students. That’s because the U.S. has seen an overall 26 percent decline in the number of students choosing engineering and science careers. Nationally, women make up only 20 percent of engineering graduates, and minorities only 2.5 percent of engineering students.
The process of increasing access to UWM programs in all majors is already well under way, says Lovell. The incoming first-year class in fall 2010 was the most diverse in the university’s history, with 22 percent of entering students from underrepresented groups and all students of color making up about 25 percent of the new students. Applications for fall 2011 appear to continue that trend, Lovell notes.
UWM is also succeeding in helping students stay in school, Lovell adds. In 2005, the university set up the Access to Success program to support students’ academic efforts. One of that program’s primary goals is to close the gap in academic performance and retention between underrepresented students of color – African American, Latino/a, Southeast Asian and American Indian – and other students.
During the first years of Access to Success, the gap in retention rates closed from more than 15 percentage points to less than 9 percentage points. The gap in satisfactory performance rates closed from 25 percentage points to 17 percentage points, Lovell notes.
“UWM has made tremendous strides over the last decade with respect to both enrollment and research growth,” says Lovell. “Now, UWM is poised to reach even greater heights. As chancellor, I will do everything in my power to keep us moving forward, even during difficult financial times.”