UMass leaders, local dignitaries, and government officials gathered to honor the Motleys’ long-standing commitment to UMass Boston and its students.
BOSTON, April 28, 2023 — On Friday, April 28th, the University of Boston Massachusetts dedicated its first residence hall in honor of Chancellor Emeritus Dr. J. Keith Motley and former first lady Angela Motley. Hosted by the University of Massachusetts, more than 400 people attended the ceremony to recognize the Motleys’ steadfast commitment to the university and their role as the driving force in expanding the on-campus residential experience for students. Built in 2018, the newly dedicated Dr. J. Keith and Angela Motley Hall provides housing for first-year students, flexible living and learning spaces, and a venue for fostering a stronger on-campus educational experience.
In a letter to the UMass Board of Trustees, President Meehan recommended that the housing complex be named in “honor of Keith and Angela Motley for their steadfast commitment and many achievements” and in recognition that “their names and example will inspire UMass Boston students today and forever.” The Board of Trustees then approved the naming.
The event, led by University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan, took place in front of the newly dedicated building, featuring remarks from the Motleys, Embrace Boston Executive Director Imari Paris Jeffries, UMass Boston Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, and UMass Board of Trustees Chair Stephen Karam among others.
Notable attendees attended the dedication to recognize the Motleys impactful contributions, including Cambridge College President Deborah Jackson; The Boston Foundation President and CEO Lee Pelton; Former Vice Chancellor of Athletics and Recreation at UMass Boston Charlie Titus; City of Boston Task Force on Reparations Chair Joseph Feaster Jr.; along with other leaders from across the Commonwealth.
President Meehan, said, “It is important to make an enduring statement about the impact that Keith Motley had and continues to have at UMass Boston with Angela as his partner. There was no better way to do that than to connect the Motley name to a university facility that exists to serve students, is intended to enhance the student experience, and fosters student success.”
“It is an honor to pay tribute to two UMass Boston legends. The incomparable Angela and Keith are tireless champions toward equity for students, staff, and the UMass community. The naming of this building is a testament to their leadership, making their legacy a permanent honor of their forceful efforts to build our first on campus living space,” said UMass Boston Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco.
Dr. Motely, who is the first Black chancellor in the history of UMass Boston, was the driving force behind the unprecedented growth and rebuilding of the campus between 2007 and 2017. A relentless champion for equity, Dr. Motley leveraged his vast experience in educational leadership and administration to define and execute a strategic plan that prioritized elevating academic offerings and research initiatives, as well as overseeing a 25-year campus master plan.
“This is beyond our imagination. When you walk onto this campus, you can see transformation everywhere. That should not be a surprise, excellence is what you should expect at an institution; and as a university built on love, we cannot move on without thanking all those who stood by our side to ensure our students’ success with the opening of the campus’ first residence hall. Let us continue to reach, inspire and empower the next generation of leaders,” said Dr. Motley.
Angela Motley played a critical role during Dr. Motley’s tenure, supporting fundraising efforts and making service and student mentorship a hallmark of her time at the university.
“The residence hall was a dream of ours realized and only compliments the work of those around us. Thank you to everyone who made this possible. We are truly humbled and forever grateful to be receiving an honor of this stature,” said Angela Motley.
“UMass Boston is the urban jewel of the UMass system, and Keith and Angela were a driving force in fostering an inclusive community where students can receive the high-quality education all students deserve,” said UMass Board of Trustees Chair Stephen Karam.
The program featured a tribute video to the Motleys, which included remarks from family, colleagues, and state representatives:
“Dr. Keith and Angela Motley saw great potential in UMass Boston and went above and beyond to turn those dreams about this campus into a reality. Now generations of students and faculty, as well as our entire state, will benefit from their efforts,” said Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey.
“When you think about the mission of land grant universities across this country and in Massachusetts, I cannot think of two people that have embraced and personified that mission better than Keith and Angela. I am so happy that their work and their names will be remembered on the campus of UMass Boston,” said Congressman Stephen Lynch.
“I want to thank Dr. Keith Motley for his trailblazing leadership and service as Chancellor Emeritus, and Angela for all she’s done to center service and student membership. What better way to preserve and honor their legacy than with UMass Boston’s very first on-campus dorm,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.
Dr. Motley’s vision for the university included replacing and elevating much of the campus infrastructure and creating a two-building residential community for students on campus. That vision was realized when UMass Boston’s first residence/dining complex opened in 2018, a public-private partnership. The opening of the state-of-the-art facility, which houses more than 1,000 students, marked the first time in the university's history that students would be able to live and learn on campus.
“By naming this building after Angela and Keith, we are challenging systematic racism and ensuring their life-changing work is turned into a monument and given the visibility and recognition it deserves, helping preserve their legacy and contribute to the cultural heritage of our Greater Boston community,” said Embrace Boston Executive Director Imari Paris Jeffries, a UMass Boston alumnus.
“What an honor it is to be here celebrating this well-deserved distinction with everyone today. Keith and Angela’s contributions are second to none and reflect the importance of this milestone for UMass Boston and the significant tribute to their legacy,” said UMass Trustee Mary Burns.
“It takes courage to dream. This dream for Keith and Angela has its genesis in intentional, committed, moral service and their perseverance in its pursuit. With preparation and courage, they have dreamed and enabled their dreams. And so, I cannot think of no better dedication for the residence hall than to be named after this duo” said Past Chancellor of UMass Amherst; and former UMass System Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and International Relations Dr. Marcellette G. Williams.
About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s colleges and graduate schools serve 16,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit www.umb.edu.