Martin Meehan Named Next Persident of UMass System

Boston, May 1, 2015, — Martin T. Meehan, a former US congressman who became chancellor of his alma mater, UMass Lowell, and transformed it into a highly ranked national research university, was unanimously elected today as the next president of the five-campus UMass system.
Mr. Meehan resigned from US House of Repsentatives to become Chancellor of UMass Lowell eight years ago(file photo).

Chancellor Meehan, the eldest of seven children, who used his UMass Lowell education as a springboard to a distinguished career in Congress and now to the presidency of the region’s largest and top-rated public university, said he was honored by the Board’s action and eager to build on the work he has done at the Lowell campus.

“Serving as Chancellor of my alma mater, UMass Lowell, for the last eight years has been the most fulfilling period of my professional life, so I am excited about the opportunity to lead the University of Massachusetts system,” said Chancellor Meehan. He will succeed President Robert L. Caret, who will step down June 30 to become chancellor of the 12-campus University System of Maryland.

“I thank the UMass Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee for their confidence. Massachusetts is synonymous with the best in higher education. We will seek to strengthen our position as a world-class public university system that is accessible, affordable and a catalyst for innovation and economic development in the Commonwealth,” Chancellor Meehan added.

Chancellor Meehan was one of two finalists chosen by a 21-member Presidential Search Committee, working with the executive search firm Korn Ferry. The other finalist was John A. Quelch, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and the former Dean, Vice President and Distinguished Professor of International Management at China Europe International Business School.  Dr. Quelch was formerly chairman and member of the Massachusetts Port Authority.

The Board of Trustees met separately with each candidate in open session before voting to select Chancellor Meehan as president. The Board also authorized Chairman Woolridge to negotiate a contract with the President-elect.

Trustees cited Chancellor Meehan’s strong record of achievement and success at UMass Lowell, his distinguished record of public service, his passion for UMass and its mission, and his ability to communicate and to inspire as being among the reasons for selecting him as the University’s 27th president. The former congressman will be the first UMass undergraduate alumnus to serve as President of the five-campus, 73,000-student system.

A record of success

“We strongly believe that after a broad and encompassing search the best person to lead the University of Massachusetts into a new era of growth and achievement is someone who has proven to be an integral part of its current success,” said Victor Woolridge, Chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees. “Chancellor Meehan’s successful tenure at UMass Lowell has shown that he has what it takes to move the University of Massachusetts system forward. His results-driven, visionary leadership has opened up new frontiers for UMass Lowell, and we fully expect the same to happen for the entire University in the course of his presidency.”

“Both of our finalist candidates had the ability to be an outstanding leader of the University of Massachusetts,” Chairman Woolridge said. “We appreciate their willingness to engage in this process, and to share their insights and ideas with us.”

Chairman Woolridge thanked Robert J. Manning, chairman of the Presidential Search Committee, a group that included state Secretary of Education James A. Peyser, for “working so hard and more than meeting the difficult challenge that was set before them.”

Trustee Henry M. Thomas III said he was supporting Chancellor Meehan because, “I’m partial to excellence,” and Trustee Jeffrey B. Mullan called him, “The right leader at the right time.”

Personifies UMass success story

President Caret, who has worked closely with Chancellor Meehan for the past four years, praised the decision, saying: “Marty in many ways personifies the UMass success story. UMass is the place where talent, determination and hard work translate into lives of unlimited horizons. UMass changes lives.”

President Caret added: “Marty is an excellent choice to lead UMass. He is an engaging and effective leader who is passionate about advancing the academic, research and public service mission of the University of Massachusetts. I know he will keep UMass moving toward the future the Commonwealth needs. I congratulate him on his achievement. UMass is in very good hands.”

The UMass presidential search began on February 6, 2015, when the Board of Trustees established a 21-member Search Committee consisting of faculty members from all five UMass campuses, three students, community and business leaders, and members of the UMass Board of Trustees.

The Search Committee held two public meetings, five campus forums and conducted two days of candidate interviews before meeting yesterday to designate finalists.

As the process unfolded, the company hired to guide the search, Korn Ferry, reviewed the credentials of several hundred prospective candidates nationally, contacting nearly 80 prospects and bringing 20 declared and prospective candidates forward for the Search Committee’s consideration. The position also was advertised in five publications: The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Women in Higher Education, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and Hispanic Outlook.

Praise from UMass Chancellors

As a campus Chancellor, the University’s President-elect has worked closely with his colleagues on the other UMass campuses, all of whom hailed his election.

  • “Clearly the search committee and the entire Board of Trustees recognize the extraordinary work Chancellor Meehan has done over the past eight years to elevate the Lowell campus – and they also recognize the potential for equally transformational leadership for the entire five-campus system under a Meehan presidency,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy.  “We are fortunate that, at a time when the University of Massachusetts is recognized worldwide as a leader in public higher education, our Trustees have selected a new president with the vision and skill to ensure that a world-class public higher education will continue to be accessible to qualified Massachusetts students – and that the power of our research enterprise will continue to grow and address the commonwealth’s and the world’s most complex, challenging problems,” he said.
  • “The UMass Board of Trustees has selected an excellent president in Chancellor Meehan. I have worked with him as a respected colleague these past eight years and have seen him develop an impressive record of success at UMass Lowell. I look forward to working with Marty on continuing the transformation of our campus and the progress we are making system-wide,” said J. Keith Motley, the chancellor of UMass Boston.
  • “From the day I arrived, Chancellor Meehan has been a wonderful colleague for me, always open to sharing best practice,” said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman. “His energy and pride in all things UMass are infectious. Chancellor Meehan’s unyielding commitment to student success, combined with a deeply held belief that UMass research can drive the Massachusetts economy to new heights, make him the ideal leader for our University at this time. I look forward to working with him in the years ahead.”
  • “We look forward with eager anticipation to a Marty Meehan presidency, as he undoubtedly will help guide our great university system to new heights,” said Michael F. Collins, MD, Chancellor of UMass Medical School. “It has been a privilege to work and to partner with Chancellor Meehan during his tenure as an energetic and visionary leader for UMass Lowell, and I know that he will bring this clear vision and unbridled energy to the larger stage of University leadership.”

Propelling UMass Lowell forward

Since commencing the leadership of UMass Lowell in 2007, Chancellor Meehan has propelled the institution forward by every important measure of higher education. UMass Lowell has achieved record growth in enrollment, student retention and funding for research and scholarships. The campus has undergone a stunning physical transformation, with new academic buildings and residence halls, upgraded academic and research facilities, and enhanced student activity spaces.

In 2011, for the first time, UMass Lowell was named a top-tier national university and is No. 156 on U.S. News & World Report’s Best National Universities ranking. Its four-year, 27-spot climb is the second-fastest in the nation. UMass Lowell also ranks 84th among all public universities in the country. The University is the top-ranked public research institution in New England for starting salary, mid-career salary and overall return on investment for graduates according to

While strongly focusing on academics and student success, Chancellor Meehan has made access, affordability and diversity a keystone of his vision to raise UMass Lowell’s image and impact on the region.

Chancellor Meehan has sought innovative and entrepreneurial means to obtain resources. Understanding that philanthropic support is vital to sustain the progress UMass Lowell has made, the chancellor has overseen the largest fundraising years in the history of the institution, culminating with a record $20.6 million raised in FY14, the fourth consecutive record year for university fundraising.  During his tenure, UMass Lowell has raised more than $105 million in private gifts and pledges.

In 2015, the Lura Smith Fund honored Chancellor Meehan with the Living the Dream Award for embracing the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through his faith and commitment to social justice. In 2014,  Chancellor Meehan received the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) President of the Year Award at the organization’s 100th anniversary celebration and the Robert H. (Tex) McClain, Jr. Distinguished Public Administrator Award from the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Society of Public Administration. He was honored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) at the annual District I program in 2012 with the Chief Executive Leadership Award, established to honor institutional leaders for outstanding contributions to their campus communities, for efforts promoting public understanding of education and for support of advancement at their campuses.

Chancellor Meehan represented the 5th Congressional District of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2007, where he served on the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees. Widely respected as a reformer, he established a national reputation for his legislative leadership in transforming campaign finance laws and protecting the public from the health risks of tobacco use. Previously he served as Massachusetts deputy secretary of state for securities and corporations, and he was the first assistant district attorney of Middlesex County.

Chancellor Meehan graduated cum laude from UMass Lowell in 1978 with a degree in education and political science. He earned a master’s degree in public administration from Suffolk University in 1981 and a juris doctor from Suffolk University Law School in 1986. He holds honorary degrees from Suffolk University, Green Mountain College in Vermont and Shenkar College of Engineering & Design in Israel.

Reaction from across Massachusetts to the election of Marty Meehan as UMass President

“The best-educated state in the nation is now getting a great education leader for our outstanding university system. From the lecture halls of UMass Lowell, to the halls of Congress, and now to the administrative halls of UMass, all roads in Marty Meehan’s life have prepared him for this honor and responsibility. Marty Meehan is the embodiment of all the UMass system strives to be and provide to its students. As a member of Congress, Marty Meehan championed education and innovation, and as Chancellor of UMass Lowell, he transformed the campus into a 21st century center of excellence that prepares students for the fields and industries fueling Massachusetts’ economy. I congratulate new President Marty Meehan, and I look forward to partnering with him to bring the UMass system to national prominence.”
– Sen. Edward J. Markey 

“Marty Meehan is a terrific choice to lead the University of Massachusetts. He has expanded academic programs and overseen significant growth at UMass Lowell, propelling the school forward.  His enthusiasm for the students, for the school, and for its mission is contagious, and I am confident that he will bring the same energy to his new role.  I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
– Sen. Elizabeth Warren 

“Marty Meehan and I worked together when he was in Congress and after he became chancellor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. I have found him to be an outstanding leader who knows how to get the job done with the highest level of integrity and a passion for excellence in everything he does. I am thrilled he was selected to be the next President of UMass. He is an outstanding choice because he cares about education, the students and our great state.”
– William Swanson, Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Raytheon Company

“Marty Meehan is an agent of change wherever he goes. As a Congressman he was one of the first people to question ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and this initial challenge ultimately led to its reversal. His focus on change has taken hold at UMass Lowell, not just through cutting-edge facilities but in a vibrant new energy felt across the campus. He will bring the same skills, leadership and enthusiasm to this new role. With President Meehan, exciting new possibilities await the UMass system.”
– U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas

“For the Commonwealth to be strong, we need UMass to be strong and the Board of Trustees have picked a new leader who will ensure continued excellence.”
– Karen Kaplan, Chairman & CEO, Hill Holliday

“I applaud the Board’s decision to name Marty Meehan the new President of the University of Massachusetts.  Marty is a proven leader in many sectors, most recently in higher education at UMass Lowell, where he has done an incredible job transforming that institution.  He also possesses not only the educational skills, but the leadership and political skills I believe are absolutely necessary for this role. Marty is uniquely positioned to build what is already a very good system into a great system.”
– Paul Guzzi, President and CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce

“I’ve known Marty Meehan for years and I believe that he is a perfect choice to lead the University of Massachusetts. As chancellor of UMass Lowell he has been a superb collaborator with colleagues at our community colleges and state universities, and very supportive of the Board of Higher Education’s efforts to meet the educational and workforce goals of the Commonwealth.”
– Richard Freeland, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education

“With a broad slate of exceptional candidates, it was exciting and inspirational to discuss the challenges and potential of higher education in Massachusetts, nationally and globally. The search committee presented the Board of Trustees with two outstanding candidates. Having experienced firsthand the remarkable transformation that Chancellor Meehan has led at UMass Lowell, I am looking forward to seeing him as the leader of the system.”
– Susan J. Braunhut, PhD., UMass Lowell Professor of Biological Sciences and member of the University of Massachusetts Presidential Search Committee

“As a long-time season ticket holder and passionate Patriots fan, I have known Marty Meehan for a long time and am a big fan. Marty has tremendous enthusiasm for the many pursuits in his life. He was a trusted, respected and highly successful congressman for well over a decade. When he returned to his alma mater as the chancellor at UMass Lowell, I knew that he would bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the position and provide the tireless work ethic needed to lead the university to new heights, both academically and athletically. I want to congratulate the UMass Board of Trustees on their selection. I know that Marty will be a tremendous president for UMass.”
– Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO, The Kraft Group

“As a longtime colleague and friend, I believe that Chancellor Meehan is the pitch perfect choice to lead the University of Massachusetts during these challenging times for higher education. His exemplary eight year track record at UMass Lowell demonstrates both his commitment to excellence and his ability to achieve superior results. Marty’s entire career has been characterized by service to the Commonwealth and its citizens. Under his leadership, I have no doubt that an already top tier public university will experience significant gains in reputation and impact.”
– Gloria Cordes Larson, President, Bentley University