Alumni National Awards

FRIEND OF THE UNIVERSITY AWARD

StrongRichard S. Strong
Brookfield, Wis.

Dick Strong grew up guided by mentors after losing both parents at a young age. First, by his Uncle Robert, then came coaches, and later, by his professors. These invaluable relationships helped form Dick into the person he is today — a visionary leader who honors his mentors of yesterday by giving back today.

“I happen to be a person who believes in personal relationships,” Strong says. “I’ve been blessed throughout my life to have mentors. At some point, you look back and say, ‘If it wasn’t for these people who mentored me, I would not have been so successful.’ I want to pay those people back for helping me. I consider it my responsibility to honor them.”

Known for his drive and work ethic, Strong keeps a small photo of himself as a young boy in his study. “I was five years old at the time and I was holding a hoe in the garden. I knew that I had to get to work to make progress and move ahead.”

His Marquette support spans more than half a century, starting during the early Al McGuire years. “From that point, the Marquette community became a piece of us,” Strong says. “It was a fascinating phenomenon.”

He remembers lean years long before fans filled the Fiserv Forum. His vision then was for Marquette to emerge as a national basketball power. That vision became a reality that led to the magical Final Four run in 2003 under Coach Tom Crean.

“Tom was young, and we were dreaming together. Here I was, watching this young man who had a dream of being a basketball coach succeed. That experience transformed my life.”

Strong emphasized the team of people who rallied around the vision of the university and Athletics Department, including Father Robert Wild, S.J., former Athletic Director Bill Cords and former Senior Vice President Greg Kliebahn. Together, they traveled the country analyzing top practice facilities and in-game experiences.

Today, Strong’s vision now spans far beyond the court. “My dream is for Marquette to be one of the great universities in the world,” he says. “Basketball is one wonderful vehicle for that to happen. I consider it a great privilege to be involved with Marquette.”

Looking ahead, he is encouraged by President Lovell’s leadership and the university’s drive to rise to new heights. “Mike Lovell is loyal, honest and authentic,” Strong says. “The most important thing about Mike Lovell is that he tells the truth. You can only get better if you deal with the truth. I also really like the fact that he’s always seeking to get better. He’s constantly thinking 10 years into the future.”

For years, Strong has generously led by supporting various initiatives at Marquette while always staying behind-the-scenes.

“You don’t accomplish anything by being out front,” he says. “Major accomplishments are made subtly. We all have a responsibility as human beings to give back for the betterment of our country. I cherish my education and consider education the axel for our country. I consider it a great privilege to be involved with Marquette, and I try to help the university improve each and every day.”

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