Michael Olson named next director of the Marquette Core Curriculum 

Dr. Michael Olson, teaching associate professor of philosophy in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, has been named the next director of the Marquette Core Curriculum, Provost Kimo Ah Yun announced today. Olson will begin his new role on July 1, replacing Dr. Conor Kelly. 

“Dr. Olson brings to the role of director of the Marquette Core Curriculum remarkable passion, expertise and collaborative skills,” said Dr. John Su, vice provost for academic affairs and student success. “I am eager to work with him to ensure that our Core continues to embody our Catholic, Jesuit mission supporting the formation of students as persons with and for others.” 

Olson has taught courses at every level of the Marquette Core Curriculum since arriving at the university in 2018. He especially relishes the opportunity to introduce students to the discipline he loves – and one he only discovered after unintentionally enrolling in a philosophy course as an undergraduate. 

“I arrived in Milwaukee in 2018 at the same time the university introduced the new Marquette Core Curriculum, so my sense of the distinctive value of a Marquette education has been formed by the wisdom and care invested in the MCC by so many of my colleagues and students,” Olson said. “I could not be more supportive of the premium a Catholic Jesuit education places on preparing students to exceed the highest standards of professional and disciplinary expertise while also making space for them to reflect on and nourish the fundamental values and commitments that will orient them as citizens, neighbors and friends for the rest of their lives.” 

Outside the classroom, Olson spends his time investigating how 18th-century German intellectuals negotiated the tensions between philosophical and natural scientific studies of human life. This period immediately preceded the modern division of universities into separate disciplinary departments, so our own attempts at interdisciplinary teaching and research put us into surprisingly close relation, Olson thinks, with early modern European intellectual life. 

The Marquette Core Curriculum is the center of every Marquette University undergraduate student’s educational experience, providing a distinctive approach that is: 

  • Grounded in the Jesuit tradition 
  • Oriented to integration 
  • Essential for transformation 

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with colleagues and students from across the university to appreciate and grow the academic and professional value of the Marquette Core Curriculum,” Olson said. 

The MCC is administered by a director and the eight-person MCC Committee, which reports jointly to the provost and to the University Academic Senate. Committee members serve three-year terms and represent the various colleges and instructors in each of the MCC tiers. 

“I am so pleased that Dr. Olson has agreed to serve as the next director of the Marquette Core Curriculum,” Kelly said. “His deep experience teaching in the MCC gives him the ideal perspective to lead this distinctive academic program that forms the heart of the undergraduate academic experience at Marquette.” 

Kelly, who additionally serves as associate professor and chair of theology, has been director of the MCC since July 1, 2020. 

“As I leave the position of director, I am especially grateful to the many colleagues across campus who have worked diligently to make the MCC a central driver of student formation at Marquette,” Kelly said.