Mellon Bancorp has named veteran strategist David R. Lovejoy as chairman of its mortgage company.

Mr. Lovejoy, 47, a vice chairman of the Pittsburgh-based banking company, will succeed Thomas F. Donovan, who is retiring Dec. 31.

As an overseer of corporate development, Mr. Lovejoy has helped spearhead major acquisitions for Mellon, including last year's purchase of Dreyfus Corp.

He has been with Mellon since February 1993, after a 20-year stint at the former Security Pacific Corp., where he rose to vice chairman and head of merchant banking. While at SecPac, Mr. Lovejoy was also on the board of the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

But his career hit a snag in 1990, when SecPac experienced huge losses from international investment banking. The bank took a $360-million restructuring charge and was purchased by BankAmerica Corp. soon after.

Mr. Lovejoy now works closely with another SecPac veteran, Mellon chairman Frank Cahouet.

Mellon said it was premature to make Mr. Lovejoy available to discuss his new position. But analysts said his diverse skills and corporate status signaled that Mellon wanted a top-notch executive for the job.

The appointment "lends some stature to mortgage operations," said Anthony R. Davis, a bank analyst at Dean Witter Reynolds, New York.

Mr. Davis said Mr. Lovejoy will likely help Mellon sharpen its efforts to use mortgages as a platform for cross-selling other bank products.

Other analysts said the appointment could well indicate that Mellon wanted to expand its Houston-based mortgage unit through acquisitions. Mr. Lovejoy and executives at the mortgage unit are quite familiar with the approach.

Most recently, Mellon Mortgage purchased Metmor Financial, a deal that expanded residential and commercial servicing by $13 billion.

Some $9.3 billion of the portfolio was residential loans, boosting Mellon's residential servicing portfolio to $45 billion. The increase took Mellon to 11th place from 17th among all residential servicers.

The purchase, which closed last month, also gave Mellon a foothold in California and the Midwest, where Metmor operated a number of offices.

A longtime player on the East Coast, Mellon Mortgage entered the Northwest last year, with the purchase of U.S. Bancorp's mortgage company.

Also in 1994, Mellon Mortgage acquired Northern Mortgage Co. of Norwell, Mass., and bought four residential mortgage offices in Texas from Roosevelt Bank of Chesterfield, Mo.

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