UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan elected president of UMass system

By Anthony Rentsch

Collegian file photo
(Collegian File Photo)

University of Massachusetts Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan was elected the 27th president of the University of Massachusetts system by a unanimous vote at the Board of Trustees special meeting held Friday morning.

“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 Meehan in a statement.

“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.”

The board met with Meehan and fellow finalist John Quelch separately in open sessions before voting. The board also authorized Victor Wooldridge, chair of the board, to negotiate a contract with Meehan, according to the news release.

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

Meehan has been at UMass Lowell since 2007. During his time he has been a part of significant change at the University, including an increase in its enrollment rate, student retention rate and funding for research and scholarships, according to its website.

He has also helped to secure a record amount of fundraising during his tenure, raising over $105 million in private gifts and pledges in his nine years, according to the University’s website.

UMass Lowell climbed 27 spots to No. 156 in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best National Universities ranking between the time he took over the chancellorship and 2011.

Meehan, a UMass Lowell alum, has been recognized with a number of awards, including the 2015 Living the Dream Award for embracing the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through his faith and commitment to social justice, given out by the Lura Smith Fund.

Since 2007, Meehan has also been a faculty member in UMass Lowell’s political science department, teaching a course about the United States Congress each semester.

Prior to his stint at UMass Lowell, Meehan was a member of the United States House of Representatives for the 5th Congressional District of Massachusetts from 1993 to 2007, where he served on the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees.

The Boston Globe reported on Thursday that Suffolk University was also interested in Meehan for its open president position. Meehan received both his master’s and doctorate degree from Suffolk.

The Boston Globe also reported that Meehan was a top candidate for the position four years ago, which eventually went to current President Robert Caret. In that search, he withdrew at the last minute due to issues over his appointment potentially being seen as political favoritism.

During his decade and a half in Congress, Meehan worked in areas of fundraising, economic development in job creation, environmental leadership and gay and lesbian issues, among others.

Previously, Meehan served as an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County and as the Massachusetts Deputy Secretary of State for Securities and Corporations.

Caret announced in December that he would be stepping down in order to become the chancellor of the 12-campus University of Maryland system and a 21-member search committee was formed in early February.

Anthony Rentsch can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Anthony_Rentsch.