Marcelo Suárez-Orozco named Chancellor of UMass Boston

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BOSTON – Immigration scholar Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, as a teen ager sent to the U.S. by parents seeking to save him from Argentina’s gathering Dirty War, today was unanimously selected to become chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“This moment can be viewed as the completion of a journey that began when two parents, in what must have been a wrenching decision, gave their 17-year-old son an airplane ticket and sent him off to America to flee Argentina’s gathering storm-clouds of terror,” UMass President Marty Meehan said, in recommending Dr. Suárez-Orozco to the UMass Board of Trustees.

“Today, his remarkable journey arrives at the most appropriate of destinations, as Marcelo Suárez-Orozco becomes Chancellor of an institution that breathes life into the American Dream every day: the University of Massachusetts Boston,” Meehan added.

“UMass Boston is a special place that needs and deserves a special leader,” Meehan said, making his formal recommendation to the Board.

Chancellor-elect Suárez-Orozco, a former Harvard and NYU professor who now serves as Dean of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, won unanimous approval and enthusiastic acclaim from the trustees.

Today his remarkable journey arrives at the most appropriate of destinations, as Marcelo Suárez-Orozco becomes Chancellor of an institution that breathes life into the American Dream every day: the University of Massachusetts Boston." Marty Meehan University of Massachusetts President

“Because of the hard work that has been done at UMass Boston over the last few years, Dr. Suárez-Orozco is going to hit the ground running with a financial foundation that is much stronger,” said UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Robert J. Manning. “We needed somebody very special to come to UMass Boston and clearly President Meehan and the search committee have found that person.”

Suárez-Orozco, an internationally-renowned educator and researcher whose work focuses on the study of mass migration, globalization and education, said he was honored to become the 9th chancellor of UMass Boston, which was established in 1965 to make the University more accessible to the state’s urban population center.

“It is an extraordinary honor for me, an immigrant from Latin America, who came to this country and was given the extraordinary gift of higher education of the great public university system in the state of California,” said Suárez-Orozco. “I come before you with a promise that as the chancellor of University of Massachusetts Boston, I will endeavor to the best of my abilities to be faithful to the fundamental idea that in public education we find the tools for the flourishing of the youth, young men and women of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

“It’s a new day for UMass Boston and our system,” said Imari K. Paris Jeffries, a member of the Board of Trustees who served on the search committee and a UMass Boston graduate.

“He can bring people together,” said UMass Trustee and UMass Boston alumnus Steven A. Tolman, who also served on the search committee.

More about Marcelo Suárez-Orozco

A World Class Leader

Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, 63, is the inaugural Wasserman Dean at the University of California Los Angeles, where he leads the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, which on his watch attained US News & World Report’s top ranking.

Suárez-Orozco, whose start date is not yet established, becomes the permanent successor to former UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley, who stepped down at the end of the 2016-17 academic year. Former Bowdoin College President Barry Mills served as interim chancellor in 2017-2018 and Katherine Newman has served as interim chancellor since then.
“The University owes a debt of gratitude to both Barry and Katherine,” Meehan said. “Katherine Newman had just taken on important, system-wide responsibilities at the University when I asked her to step in. She never hesitated and has performed at the highest levels.”

Mills received an honorary doctorate from UMass Boston last year, marking his service.

Interim Chancellor Newman described Suárez-Orozco as “the ideal choice” to serve as “permanent Chancellor of this distinguished university.”

In addition to praising and recommending Suárez-Orozco, Meehan paid tribute to UMass Boston’s mission and goals.

“UMass Boston was established to bring one of our nation’s greatest innovations – the public university – to one of the nation’s greatest cities. UMass Boston is where you find the Boston of today -- and the America of tomorrow,” Meehan said.

More about the search process

  • The UMass Boston Chancellor Search Committee, with Trustee R. Norman Peters serving as chair and UMB Professor Jean Peters serving as vice chair, held its first meeting on August 27, 2019, and said its goal was to help the University attract “an amazing leader” for the campus.
  • Over the course of the search, the committee and its recruitment firm contacted nearly 400 prospective candidates, evaluated candidacies and last month interviewed 11 candidates -- ultimately unanimously recommending Dean Suárez-Orozco for the position.
  • Dr. Suárez-Orozco visited UMass Boston on January 31 and campus reaction to his visit, as measured by the search committee’s web-based feedback system, was strongly positive.

For additional information on the search process visit

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