Javier Reyes named next Chancellor of UMass

Reyes voted in unanimously amongst the UMass Board of Trustees to be the next chancellor.


Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian.

By Jack Underhill, Assistant News Editor

In a unanimous vote this morning by the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, Javier Reyes has been named the next Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Reyes will replace current Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy when he steps down in June.

The Board of Trustees, each sitting in their own offices and homes, attended the meeting virtually over Zoom to vote on the future of the University’s leadership. Chairman of the Board of Trustees Stephen Karam moderated the virtual meeting.

“As you know, we are meeting for an important reason and are poised to make a very significant decision this morning,” Karam said at the start of the meeting.

Following Karam’s introduction, UMass Chancellor Search Committee Chairman Victor Woolridge thanked the board for the opportunity to lead the 21-person committee in the search for the next chancellor.

According to Woolridge, the committee hosted 11 listening sessions over a seven-month period. Search firm Isaacson Miller communicated with 108 prospective candidates and interviewed 26 of them. After the candidates were presented to the search committee, 12 were interviewed over three days, resulting in the two finalists, Javier Reyes and Paul Tikalsky, being announced on February 1.

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan then went on to express his enthusiasm in formally recommending Reyes as next chancellor. Meehan praised Reyes’ extensive experience and devotion to higher education, including his most recent position as interim chancellor at the University of Chicago, Illinois, which houses 33,000 students — a population similar to that of UMass.

“Dr. Javier Reyes is the right person to become the next chancellor of UMass Amherst, and I formally, proudly and enthusiastically recommend him to the Board of Trustees as the next chancellor of UMass Amherst,” Meehan said.

Meehan also noted the value that Reyes’ background will bring to the UMass community. “His experience as a Hispanic, an immigrant and as an international student attending Texas A&M for Mexico gives him a personal perspective on the challenges faced by underrepresented international students.”

Meehan stated in an email to the UMass community that Reyes will be the first Hispanic chancellor at the flagship.

Karam opened up the meeting for discussion prior to the voting process, but it was clear that the trustees were in full agreement with Meehan’s recommendation even before the voting process began.

“I think Dr. Reyes is going to be a terrific person to succeed Subbaswamy. Those are huge shoes to fill,” said Elizabeth Scheibel, a member of the board.

Vice Chair Mary Burns also provided her approval. “I can tell you that Chancellor elect Reyes is the person for the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and I wholeheartedly endorse his candidacy.”

The outpouring of praise towards Reyes revealed the ever-present struggle of holding such a meeting virtually as trustees occasionally spoke over one another, not sure as to who would unmute themselves first.

Current UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy was also in attendance and expressed his excitement for Reyes to take over the role as chancellor.

“In my meeting with him, Dr. Reyes impressed me with his clear understanding of the journey UMass Amherst has been on and an enthusiasm for moving the University to greater heights. He impressed me and he impressed the campus groups that he met with his emotional intelligence,” Subbaswamy said.

“He clearly understands our teaching and research missions and our relationship to our state and the publics that we serve,” he continued.

Board of Trustees Secretary Zunilka Barret proceeded with moderating the vote that consisted of resounding “yeses” all around the Board. Despite the disconnect born from the lack of physical presence, a sense of unity and agreement was still apparent.

The meeting reached its conclusion with Reyes joining the meeting and voicing his immense thanks and excitement for UMass to develop its faculty and staff, promote inclusion and collaboration and extend outreach across the Commonwealth.

“I don’t think I can express first my gratitude enough through this online medium. Hopefully my smile also comes across because this is a very special day for me personally, for my family,” Reyes said.

“So, this is something that I want to continue to do, fuel innovation, economic mobility, diversity, equity and nexus to continue to attract and retain talent to fuel the vibrant economy and the trajectory of the Commonwealth,” Reyes added. “That is my commitment to you.”

Jack Underhill can be reached at [email protected] and followers on Twitter @JackUnderhill16.