Taking stock of the search for UMass Boston's new chancellor

By Robert J. Manning
Special to the Reporter

After a period of extensive outreach and careful preparation, the University of Massachusetts has launched its search for a permanent chancellor for UMass Boston with the creation of a committee that is as distinguished and diverse as the campus itself.

Faculty members form the core of the search committee, with eight of panel’s 21 members holding academic positions at the University: five UMB faculty members, two UMB deans, and the vice chancellor for research at UMass Lowell.

We have included a large number of faculty members on the committee for obvious reasons, as faculty provide a university with its academic and research core and therefore must be central to a search process.

However, a chancellor is not a university’s chief academic officer – that is the provost’s job.

A chancellor leads the entire campus. Chancellors chart a course and inspire all members of a university community. Thus, our search committee includes students, alumni, staff, community leaders, and three members of the UMass Board of Trustees, two of whom are UMass Boston graduates.

The belief that drove the committee-selection process was that all members of the UMB community needed to have a seat at the table and a voice in the selection process – and we’re proud of the committee we were able to create, just as I’m confident that we will be proud of the leader who emerges from the process. Much of our success in creating this committee stems from the advice and input we received from many quarters, including student, community and alumni leaders, elected officials and the Faculty Council.

As the search proceeds in the coming months, the Board of Trustees, President Marty Meehan, and I look forward to working with all parties on campus to build on the growth and progress we see at UMass Boston. With its new academic buildings, first-ever student dormitory and other facilities now standing tall along the shores of Dorchester Bay, it truly is a new day at UMass Boston. Today, a world-class faculty and student body are getting the facilities they long deserved.

Needless to say, there’s more work to be done. The university still needs to address the substructure problem that has confronted UMass Boston almost since it opened its doors on Columbia Point while taking on other challenges.

The good news is that the lease of the Bayside property, expected to generate up to $235 million, will provide UMass Boston with options and new financial strength – and we are also looking at other opportunities as we seek to create a new era for UMB.

As chairman of the Board of Trustees, my support for UMass Boston is strong because the urban public university story is so important to me. Founded 55 years ago, UMass Boston’s story is just beginning to unfold; there are many chapters yet to be written. Our next permanent chancellor needs to lead the UMB community in writing them. That’s why this search is so important and why we’re committed to it.

Robert J. Manning is chairman of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees and along with his wife, Donna Manning, funds the Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which annually honors an outstanding faculty member from each of the five UMass campuses.