Marquette 2031: Securing Our Future

Dear colleagues,

We are writing to you in our roles as Marquette leaders, joined in our care for this vital institution and the people who make it special.

Ensuring Marquette thrives for generations to come requires staying true to who we are. By reading and responding to the “signs of the times” through the lens of our Catholic, Jesuit mission, we pledge ourselves to teaching excellence, faculty scholarship and delivering a transformative educational experience for our students.

Although we are in a strong financial position, Marquette – like other universities – is facing increasing economic and demographic pressures. Fewer traditional students are attending college, and those who do attend often need more financial and other support. Marquette relies on enrollment to generate revenue to operate the university – nearly three-quarters of our operating revenue comes from tuition and room and board. The reality is that while tuition sticker prices have risen over the last decade, market-driven increases in financial aid awards to students have resulted in limited growth for overall net tuition revenue relative to rising costs and significant inflation.

It is becoming clear that we need to be creative and proactive to protect Marquette’s long-term viability. Indeed, the recent University Faculty Committee for Budgets and Financial Planning (UFCBFP) report recommends that we address our financial challenges now with a shared governance approach, rather than having our future decided for us by outside forces – and we wholeheartedly agree.

Today, we have an opportunity to discern as a community, “How should Marquette University operate to power its Jesuit mission and liberal arts foundation to thrive for years to come?”   

We believe Marquette will be best served by reallocating resources to invest strategically in what we do best, as outlined in our Marquette 2031 strategic plan, which charts a bold course as we approach our 150th anniversary. This means we will need to consider our program offerings, our physical and organizational structures, and the way we do our work.

With this in mind, the Executive Leadership Team – with the support of the Board of Trustees and the University Leadership Council – has set a goal of permanently reducing our annual operating budget by 2.5% ($11 million) in FY26 (which starts in July 2025), with a multi-year implementation plan moving us to a cumulative 7% ($31 million) reduction by FY31 as we realize savings over time. Over the next six fiscal years, we plan to reinvest over 40% of this total amount back into funding the priorities outlined in our Marquette 2031 strategic plan.

This inclusive discernment process will be called Marquette 2031: Securing Our Future. The Executive Leadership Team (president, provost and executive vice president/COO) has asked Dr. Jill Guttormson, dean of the College of Nursing, and Ralph Weber, acting general counsel, to lead this multi-year effort. With shared governance as the cornerstone of this initiative, Jill and Ralph will convene a Steering Committee that includes representatives from Staff Senate, Academic Senate and UFCBFP, and additional faculty and staff representing areas across campus. An external consultant will serve in an advisory role. The Steering Committee will make recommendations to the Executive Leadership Team and University Leadership Council members. Invitations have been sent, and Steering Committee members will be announced in Marquette Today in the coming week.

To start, Jill, Ralph and Steering Committee members will meet with every college and administrative unit, as well as other campus stakeholders, to hear input about your area and gather your ideas. Throughout this process, we will want to work with you to hear your ideas, and will communicate about how decisions will be made. To this end, we have invited Jill and Ralph to Staff Senate and Academic Senate meetings this week, and we will extend invitations to future meetings to ensure that this effort is collaborative and transparent. As the Steering Committee gathers input and begins to envision our future, we will keep the campus community apprised of this shared work.

Key milestones for the Steering Committee over the next 16 months will include:

  • Spring 2024 semester – gather campus input on actions to reduce and reallocate expenses and increase revenue
  • Summer 2024 – analyze and assess actions
  • Fall 2024 semester – develop recommendations
  • December 2024 – recommended actions presented to Board of Trustees
  • Spring 2025 semester/Summer 2025 – gather input from departments and units on next steps and begin implementation (some actions may be implemented sooner, and some will require a multi-year, phased approach)

Change is never easy, but we are confident that if we work collaboratively in a spirit of shared governance and mutual grace, we will emerge from this process a stronger university for the long term. Even if you are frustrated or uncertain, we ask that you join us in the process of charting our path forward. We see both Academic and Staff Senates as being key to our success, and we ask that our community members speak honestly, listen respectfully and trust that this communal discernment process will prepare us for the coming decades of serving students and the world.

We invite you to join in the process of contemplating how Marquette will move forward and flourish. As a community joined by our love for Marquette, let us discern together how we are being called, as individuals and as a community, to commit to Securing Our Future.


Dr. Michael R. Lovell

Calley Hostad
Chair, University Staff Senate
Multi-media manager, Diederich College of Communication

Dr. Chris Stockdale
Chair, University Academic Senate
Associate professor of physics