Health Sciences

Marquette receives $1.5 million gift to fund College of Health Sciences research and future expansion of Athletic and Human Performance Research Center

Bob and Kim Eck, an alumni couple, have made a $1.5 million gift to Marquette University through the Eck Family Foundation that will impact two areas across campus, President Michael R. Lovell shared today. The gift will provide seed funding and focus on highly innovative projects within the College of Health Sciences aimed at applying new technologies, novel therapies and research to help address substance abuse disorders.

In addition, a portion of the gift will support a new men’s basketball practice facility in a future expansion of the Athletic and Human Performance Research Center. Bob, who served as the chair of Marquette’s Board of Trustees from 2020-23, graduated in 1980; Kim completed her degree in 2013.

“Like so many families, ours has felt the impact of addiction and the difficulty in finding effective treatment,” Bob and Kim Eck said. “Finding funding for early-stage research can be very challenging.  Our hope is that our gift leads to progress in developing new treatments that may free so many people from suffering.”

Driving holistic wellness

President Lovell shared details of the university’s new strategic plan, Guided by Mission, Inspired to Change, at his recent Presidential Address. He highlighted that the Eck’s gift would also take a step toward growing a campus of “thriving students” as Marquette strives to be a nationally recognized leader in the integration of student wellness, transformation and success.

“We are grateful for this remarkable, mission-focused gift from the Eck family. Their generosity will make a major impact on a pressing societal issue,” President Lovell said. “This gift will further our progress as a research university known for excellence and innovation — an important theme in our new strategic plan — and take our Athletic and Human Performance Research Center to the next level.”

The Eck family has helped drive wellness progress across campus in recent years. In September 2022, Bob Eck announced the university’s plans to honor President Lovell and First Lady Amy Lovell within the university’s planned wellness tower in the newly renovated Wellness + Helfaer Recreation facility in recognition of their “tremendous leadership to address mental health across Milwaukee and the region.” Within four months, the university raised $5 million in honor of the Lovells.

Turning seed money into major grant funding

Philanthropic seed funding like the Ecks’ often helps researchers advance scientific progress in ways they can then leverage into larger grant awards from the National Institutes of Health or other funding sources. Part of the Ecks’ gift will be dedicated to developing a network of collaborating scientists within the College of Health Sciences’ Integrative Neuroscience Research Center, including neuroscientists, clinicians and pharmaceutical experts focused on cognitive, emotional and motivational regions of the brain to understand and address depression, neuropsychiatric disorders, addiction, spinal cord research and bodyweight regulation.

““We have made a very intentional investment spanning more than a decade to grow our world-class scientists in the critical areas of neuroscience,” said Dr. William E. Cullinan, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “We sincerely appreciate this gift from the Eck family, which will accelerate our research efforts. Our vision is ultimately to take the discoveries in our labs and translate them into breakthroughs for families who are searching for solutions.” 

Campaign momentum continues

Marquette’s historic Time to Rise fundraising campaign is the most ambitious in the university’s 143-year history. In February, President Lovell announced that the university surpassed its $750 million goal, and he challenged the Marquette community to drive toward completion of the campaign in June 2024.

“We are very fortunate to have had two philanthropic leaders in Bob and Kim throughout our historic Time to Rise campaign,” said Vice President for University Advancement Tim McMahon. “This most recent gift reflects their values and beliefs both in the way we pursue scientific discoveries to treat addiction and the way we work to enhance the home for our flagship men’s basketball program.”

The Eck family is committing a portion of their gift to a future project to expand the university’s Athletic and Human Performance Research Center, which will include a new practice facility for the men’s basketball program and academic resources for student-athletes. In January, President Lovell shared that Marquette alumnus and NBA Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade made a gift to the project while also contributing to literacy and scholarship efforts.

The expansion will free up highly utilized space in the Al McGuire Center for the women’s basketball and volleyball programs, and increase tutoring, advising and study space for all student-athletes. The first phase of the AHPRC opened in 2019. As the university community continues to build momentum in its Time to Rise campaign, donors have expressed a philanthropic interest in supporting the second phase of the AHPRC. The facility remains in the fundraising and development phase.