July 9, 2012

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that Michael J. Bell, who served as the interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Merrimack College for three years, has been appointed interim provost of Suffolk University, effective today.

Michael will serve while the University conducts a provost search. We expect to have a provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs in place by the end of spring semester 2013. I look forward to working closely with Michael in the meantime as he assumes the duties of chief academic officer, responsible for all academic and student services units.

Faculty from all three schools interviewed three candidates for the interim provost's position. When faculty and academic leaders convened to discuss the candidates, a clear and strong consensus emerged in support of Michael Bell's appointment.

As interim provost at Merrimack, Michael reorganized the divisional structure of the college, helped the faculty revise its governance system and its Faculty Handbook, and restored a collaborative relationship between faculty and administration following a time of turmoil. He was senior administrative fellow at Merrimack College before joining Suffolk University.

Michael also has served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Franklin Pierce University, where he worked on the transition from college to university status, and as vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Ill., where he also was a professor of English. Before he became a higher education administrator, Michael was chair of the Department of American Studies at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, and a member of the College faculty in the Departments of American Studies and Anthropology. He was executive director of the Iowa Jewish Heritage Project for the State Historical Society of Iowa. He also was a member of the English Department faculty at the College of Liberal Arts at Wayne State University in Detroit,

Michael holds a PhD in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The World From Brown's Lounge, an ethnography of black middle-class play; co-editor of Faithful Witness: Essays in Honor of Ronald Goetz; and has published essays and done research in the areas of African-American folklore, American labor lore, American Jewish culture, popular culture, performance studies, critical theory, historic preservation and the history of folklore scholarship.

Chief of staff

Jennifer C. Murray also joined the University this month as chief of staff in the President's Office. In this new position, Jen will be rresponsible for carrying out the operational responsibilities of the Office of the President. She will support me in leading an effective senior management team and will coordinate with the entire University on matters related to the President's Office.

Jen is extremely well qualified to serve as a senior utility player. She joins Suffolk University with more than 25 years of experience as a senior adviser to three university presidents, CEOs of multi-national corporations and a former New Hampshire governor. During her career she has held leadership positions at the University of New Hampshire, Cone Communications, Converse Inc., New Balance, Fidelity and RYKÄ's Another Chance Foundation. Jen also served as press secretary to former New Hampshire Governor Hugh J. Gallen.

She has worked closely with boards of trustees and boards of directors, led search committees, and organized presidential and gubernatorial debates. She also has facilitated strategic planning initiatives in both the public and private sectors.

Office relocation and contact information

Michael is moving into what had been the president's office on the 13th floor of the Stahl Center. His telephone extension is 8120, and his email address is mbell1@suffolk.edu.

You will find Jen and me down the hall in the new president's office, which formerly was the provost's office. Jen's extension is 1911, and her email is jcmurray@suffolk.edu

Please join me in welcoming Michael and Jen to Suffolk University


James McCarthy, President