Dr. Julie Chen named UMass Lowell Chancellor

Dr. Julie Chen, who has served as UMass Lowell’s Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation since 2016 and has been a member of the faculty since 1997, was named Chancellor of the nearly 18,000-student national research university today. She will succeed current Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, who announced last July that she would be retiring as the leader of the 18,000-student university following this academic year.

In recommending Dr. Chen to the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, UMass President Marty Meehan, a UMass Lowell alumnus and former UMass Lowell Chancellor, said: “With her vast experience in all the areas that will determine the success of the university in the years ahead, and with her deep commitment to empowering students and communities through education and innovation, Dr. Chen is the right person at this moment to lead UMass Lowell.”

Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Manning, also a UMass Lowell, alumnus, said: “Julie Chen’s track record of excellence and innovation speaks for itself. Not only will she bring tremendous experience to a complex job, she will be a visible and positive role model for students, a results-driven leader, and a collaborative partner, all aimed at driving student success and community prosperity.”

The vote of the Board was unanimous.

Dr. Chen said she is looking forward to building on the strong foundation laid by her predecessors, Meehan and Moloney.  “A UMass Lowell degree is a demonstration of the academic excellence and hands-on learning our graduates carry with them as they advance their careers and communities and apply their knowledge to the challenges our society faces,” she said. “I am honored to be selected by President Meehan and the Board of Trustees as the university’s next chancellor, and I’m excited to work with our great faculty, staff, supporters and partners to provide growing numbers of students with this UMass Lowell advantage in the years ahead.”

“We were charged by President Meehan and Chairman Manning to lead a search process that attracted the best possible candidates to lead a truly world class university and were pleased by the interest we received from higher education leaders across the country,” Search Committee Co-Chairs Mary Burns, a UMass Trustee and UMass Lowell alumna, and Jerry Colella, a UMass Lowell alumnus and business leader, said. “Today, we are excited that one of those nationally distinguished leaders, Julie Chen, has been named chancellor of our alma mater, and we look forward to working with her.”

“I fully support Dr. Chen’s appointment as our Chancellor and look forward to working with her as she leads UMass Lowell to the next level,” said Dr. Michael Graves, President of the UMass Lowell Faculty Senate. “Dr. Chen’s commitment to diversity, student success, innovation, and collaboration will serve our university community well.”

“Students have expressed a great deal of support on behalf of Dr. Chen to me for her candidacy and are excited to see her lead the university in its next steps,” said Derek Houle, UMass Lowell Student Trustee and a member of the  Class of 2022. “I’m very glad this is the direction we are heading.”

“Julie Chen recognizes UMass Lowell's important role in the socioeconomic development of the region and state and has already dedicated years to that purpose,” said Amy Hoey, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, Circle Health & Lowell General Hospital and a UMass Lowell alumna. “This is an excellent choice by President Meehan and the Board.”

More about Julie Chen

As the Chief Research Officer, Dr. Chen directs UMass Lowell’s nearly $95 million research enterprise, which also includes industry partnerships, technology transfer, startups & innovation, core research facilities, and economic development programs.

She has facilitated numerous innovative collaboration models, including:

  • The Fabric Discovery Center, the nation’s first center to integrate three Manufacturing USA Institutes, coupling the expertise in smart textiles, flexible electronics, and robotics.
  • UMass Lowell’s Core Research Facilities, shared high-tech equipment that enables efficient maintenance, training, and enhanced access of by faculty, students, and over 200 external industry users.
  • The Rist Institute for Sustainability and Energy that brings together experts in science, engineering, economics, policy, business, education, and operations to address complex challenges in sustainability and climate change.
  • Various institutes and centers such as the Raytheon-UMass Lowell Research Institute and HEROES, a unique interdisciplinary research and development partnership that brings together complementary expertise, intellectual assets, and research expertise from UMass Lowell and U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center to enhance the protection of U.S. soldiers.

Chen joined the UMass Lowell faculty in 1997 after six years as an assistant professor at Boston University. She was appointed vice provost for research in 2009 and was promoted to vice chancellor in 2016 with an added external and outreach focus. As a member of the Executive Cabinet, Chen has helped lead the implementation of the 2020 Strategic Plan, resulting in an expansion and modernization of physical infrastructure, the recruitment of outstanding faculty and students, increases in retention and graduation rates, advances in diversity, equity and inclusion, and historic growth of revenues from research, online programs and the endowment.

A strong advocate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives, Chen serves as the co-lead for the university’s Council on Social Justice and Inclusion. Additionally, she was one of the co-principal investigators on a $3.5 million NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant to help support and elevate women faculty in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines at UMass Lowell.

Chen received her PhD, Master of Science, and Bachelor of Science degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in mechanical engineering where she was a student athlete and academic all-American. =

Dr. Chen’s full bio

About the search process

The search for a new chancellor began January 27 with the appointment of a 10-member search committee, which held eight listening sessions attended by hundreds of UMass Lowell stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff and community members. The search firm of Isaacson Miller communicated with 127 prospective candidates, resulting in 42. Three finalists were identified by the search committee and visited UMass Lowell last week.

About UMass Lowell

Located in the Merrimack Valley north of the Boston, the nearly 18,000–student UMass Lowell – one of five campuses of the University of Massachusetts System – has achieved significant growth in research funding, private giving, and student applications over the past several years.

As enrollment has increased – 16 percent over the last decade – so have the academic qualifications of UMass Lowell students, with a combined SAT of 1257 and 3.67 average GPA for last fall’s entering class. UMass Lowell is ranked among the top 200 research universities in the nation and the top 100 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. Total annual research expenditures exceed $94 million. Among the more than 100,000 alumni worldwide, 60,000-plus live in Massachusetts.