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UMass Search Committee Names Meehan, Quelch Presidential Finalists

BOSTON — A search committee named two finalist candidates for the UMass presidency, describing both as “outstanding candidates eminently capable of leading the institution that will guide Massachusetts into the future.” They are Marty Meehan, chancellor of UMass Lowell and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and John 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.

The selection of the finalists sets the stage for the possible election of a new UMass system president today. “We are impressed by the high caliber of the candidates put forward and appreciate the search committee’s extremely impressive work,” said Victor Woolridge, chairman of the UMass board of trustees. “I look forward to the board bringing this process to a timely and successful conclusion.”

The University is seeking a successor to President Robert Caret, who will step down June 30 to become chancellor of the 12-campus University of Maryland system. The finalists were selected when the UMass presidential search committee met in public session in Boston.

“The University of Massachusetts is, at its heart, an institution of transformation. It exists to transform lives, to transform the Commonwealth, and even to transform the world. The person who leads the university thus takes on a solemn responsibility and must be someone who can guide, build, and in some ways transform the university itself,” noted Robert Manning, committee chairman. “It is a big job, the stakes are very high, and the members of this search committee should be very proud of the work we have done and of the names we have put forward. We are advancing outstanding candidates eminently capable of leading the institution that will guide Massachusetts into the future.”

Manning, chairman of MFS Investment Management and a UMass Lowell graduate, said the finalist candidates have strong backgrounds in higher education and also have the experience and ability needed to lead and strengthen a multi-campus university system.

“More and more students are going to be looking to the University of Massachusetts in the years to come, and we need to be sure that our system has the assets it needs to provide a world-class education for those students,” he said. “By climbing into the ranks of the top 100 universities in the world, we have reached an elite level, but we can get even better and serve even more students.”

The UMass presidential search began on Feb. 6, 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 UMass trustees, including state Secretary of Education James Peyser.

The committee was asked to present a list of finalists to the board of trustees at the earliest possible date, with the goal of having a new president on board when Caret steps down on June 30. It was also deemed important to conduct the search as rapidly as possible so that the university could stay in sync with the academic cycle and avoid the prospect of having someone serve as interim president for a lengthy period.

“This Committee, when it was formed, was presented with a tall order — and that was identifying outstanding candidates for the UMass presidency and doing so in an expeditious manner,” Manning said. “We needed to move forward as quickly as possible but still be comprehensive and far-reaching in our search and seek significant public participation. My firm view is that we have met and have exceeded our charge by bringing forward distinguished candidates, either of whom could lead the university of Massachusetts forward and continue its impressive trajectory of progress and growth.”

Patrick Lowe, a UMass student trustee and a member of the search committee, noted that, “as one of the student representatives on the search, I was very pleased with the process as well as the outcome. I believe we are putting forward great candidates, either of whom would do tremendous things for the students of UMass.”

Added Philip Johnston, a UMass trustee who served on the presidential panel, “both candidates have tremendous leadership capacity and would be transformative leaders for UMass.”

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