Dr. Javier Reyes appointed chancellor of UMass Amherst

Pointing to his record of innovative leadership and embrace of public higher education’s historic mission, the UMass Board of Trustees, acting on President Marty Meehan’s recommendation, today selected Dr. Javier Reyes to be the next chancellor of UMass Amherst. 

Governor Maura Healey praised Dr. Reyes’ appointment as “historic.” “Javier Reyes is an innovative and dynamic leader who will harness the full potential of UMass Amherst. I’m confident that he will inspire students and faculty alike to continue growing the school’s excellence in education and research. I congratulate Dr. Reyes, President Meehan, and the UMass Board of Trustees on this historic appointment. I am grateful to Chancellor Subbaswamy for his many years of service to the university and for taking it to new heights. I wish him the very best in his future endeavors.” 

“Dr. Reyes understands that UMass Amherst is the Commonwealth’s indispensable education and research engine,” said Stephen R. Karam, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees. “From the very beginning, we were determined to find a special leader who could build on all that has been accomplished over the past decade and help drive our flagship campus even higher. We have found that exact person in Dr. Javier Reyes.”

“Javier Reyes has demonstrated uncommon energy and vision throughout his career,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “A bold and innovative leader, he has inspired students in the classroom, supported initiatives that have unleashed the teaching and research talents of faculty, and connected great public universities to the socio-economic aspirations of their communities. He is well-prepared to build on the strong foundation that has been built under Chancellor Subbaswamy’s stellar leadership.” 

Born and raised in Mexico, Reyes is an economist who has devoted his career to the cause of public higher education. He will be the first Hispanic to serve as Chancellor of UMass Amherst.

Reyes currently serves as interim chancellor of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), Chicago’s largest university campus, with more than 33,000 students and $440 million in research awards. He will succeed Chancellor Subbaswamy, who has led UMass Amherst for the past 11 years.

“I am honored by the opportunity to lead UMass Amherst, a world class university that is on the rise, and humbled by the trust that President Meehan and the Board of Trustees are placing in me,” Reyes said. “My visit to campus and meetings with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners were truly inspiring. My wife, Maritza, and I are excited about making Massachusetts our home and doing our part to elevate UMass Amherst toward the top 20 public universities in the United States.”

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy welcomed Reyes to the university. ““I am really excited to welcome Javier Reyes as the next chancellor of UMass Amherst,” Subbaswamy said.  “His prior experience at two land-grant flagships, his record of assembling and leading collaborative teams, his temperament, and his friendly personality all bode well for the continuation of UMass Amherst’s progress and impact into the future.”

Reyes will be the sixth chancellor appointed on President Meehan’s watch, following: Jacquie Moloney (UMass Lowell), Robert Johnson (UMass Dartmouth), Marcelo Suárez-Orozco (UMass Boston), Mark Fuller (UMass Dartmouth), and Julie Chen (UMass Lowell).

Reyes, 48, was appointed interim chancellor of the University of Illinois Chicago on July 1, 2022, and previously served as UIC’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

The University of Illinois Chicago is an R1 Carnegie Classification research institution. With its $440 million in research awards, UIC places in the top 65 among the more than 650 national universities in research funding.

Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago are developing cleaner, more sustainable sources of energy, creating new medical diagnostic techniques, focusing on ways to improve the quality of urban life and are examining ways to manage large amounts of computer-generated data.

UIC is classified as a Minority Serving Institution, a Hispanic Serving Institution, and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution. 

As interim chancellor, Reyes’ responsibilities include overseeing a $3.6 billion budget, 13,000 faculty and staff, and 16 academic colleges, including one of the nation’s largest medical schools and Chicago’s first and only public law school. As provost, he advised on matters of academic policy, strategic direction, enrollment management and academic resource planning. He was responsible for all academic affairs and for fulfilling the mission of providing the nearly 33,000 students with inclusive access to academic excellence and opportunity. 

Prior to his arrival at UIC, Reyes served as dean of the John Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University and as vice president for the state’s economic development program Startup West Virginia. Under his leadership, enrollment of the Chambers College of Business grew by 20 percent.

Robert L. Reynolds, president and chief executive officer of Putnam Investments, and a West Virginia University alumnus, said, “I want to commend President Meehan and the UMass Board of Trustees for having the vision to appoint Javier Reyes to the UMass Amherst chancellorship. Dr. Reyes, in my opinion, is one of the most dynamic and talented young leaders on the higher education landscape. I had the good fortune of working with Javier in West Virginia and was deeply impressed by his resourcefulness and his recognition that we are not defined by our past and that education is the key to a better and more successful tomorrow.”

Reyes began his career in higher education in 2003, when he joined the University of Arkansas economics faculty after earning a Ph.D. in economics from Texas A&M University. He later became vice provost for distance education and associate dean for undergraduate studies and executive education at the Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business. 

Javier Reyes was born and raised in Mexico and attended Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico City, where he earned his bachelor's degree in economics. Reyes is considered an expert in distance education and global economic matters. He is an accomplished researcher and has published articles in many leading economics and business journals.

“Like Chancellor Subbaswamy, Dr. Reyes is grounded and humble, and he brings these attributes into his engagement with the student body,” said UMass Amherst Student Government Association President Shayan Raza, a member of the search committee. “Throughout his career, Dr. Reyes has worked in partnership with students, not only giving them a seat at the table, but also ensuring that their voices are prioritized. His approachable and empathetic demeanor makes him a chancellor whom I am certain will be a beacon on our campus, whether in the Whitmore Administration Building or the Worcester Dining Commons.” 

 “Seeing Latino leadership at the highest levels of education is an important signal to not only the Latino community, but to an ever-diverse student body that representation matters,” said Amanda Fernandez, CEO and Founder, Latinos for Education. “From leading a large and diverse urban campus at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Mr. Reyes will certainly bring an important perspective to UMass Amherst. We look forward to seeing his vision outlined and implemented in the coming years.”

“Dr. Javier Reyes brings a keen appreciation of the value of the humanities and arts at a leading research university and in the wider community, said Dr. Barbara Krauthamer, Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, member of the UMass Amherst Chancellor Search Committee. “He has the leadership experience to continue elevating research and teaching across our campus and to advance the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.  I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.” 

The UMass Amherst chancellor search, launched on July 15, 2022, was conducted by a 21-member committee. An executive search firm, Isaacson, Miller, assisted the committee and communicated with 108 potential candidates, interviewing 26 candidates. Twelve candidates were advanced to the Committee for interviews, and two emerged as the finalists.

“I firmly believe the search committee has identified the person whose Personality, Leadership qualities, Awareness of the campus environment, with the Character and Experience (PLACE) that personifies the campus community in a way no other candidate has,” Search Committee Chair and UMass alumnus Victor Woolridge said.  “I’m proud to recommend on behalf of the search committee Dr. Javier Reyes as the right person, at the right time, with the right PLACE.”

Search Committee Vice Chair Laura Haas, Dean of the Manning College of Information & Computer Sciences, added: “Dr. Reyes’ vision of a great public university as the engine of economic mobility fits perfectly with our mission as a land-grant institution dedicated to advancing the common good.  His excitement about our potential for global impact and his passion for serving students of all backgrounds augur an exciting future for the campus.” 

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