Marcelo Suárez-Orozco named Chancellor of UMass Boston

BOSTON – Immigration scholar Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, as a teenager 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.

“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

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, who arrived in the U.S. speaking only his native Spanish, is a product of the California public higher education system, having attended a community college in the state and then earning his A.B., M.A., and Ph. D. (Anthropology) degrees at the University of California Berkeley.

Prior to his service at UCLA, Suárez-Orozco – and his wife and academic partner, Carola Suárez-Orozco -- held academic positions at Harvard and at NYU. He is an internationally-renowned educator and researcher. His award-winning books, edited volumes and scholarly papers have had a global impact, leading to international service that includes his role as Special Advisor to the Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague and service on the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. During his tenure as the UCLA Wasserman Dean, he raised over $120 million toward the UCLA Campaign.

Dr. Suárez-Orozco’s full biography and CV can be found at

More about the search process

  • The UMass Boston Chancellor Search Committee, with Trustee R. Norman Peters serving as chair and UMB Professor Jean Rhodes 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

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 University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts harnesses the revolutionary spirit of Massachusetts to deliver an unparalleled experience for 75,000 students at four comprehensive campuses, a top-ranked medical school and a mission-driven law school. Rigorous academic programs in a broad range of fields have prepared more than 500,000 alumni to contribute to their communities, thrive in a new economy and change the world. Each campus offers world-class educational programs, groundbreaking research enterprises, impactful community service and industry engagement activities -- from the coastal town of Dartmouth to the international hub of Boston, from the vibrant mill cities of Lowell and Worcester to the bucolic hills of Amherst.