Dear Members of the Suffolk University Community,
It is my great honor to announce that the Board of Trustees has elected a gifted, collaborative, and results-driven leader with a passion for this institution and its mission to be the next president of Suffolk University.
I am particularly pleased that this person is someone we all know very well. Marisa Kelly, who has led this University in an extraordinarily positive direction as acting president over the past 20 months, will be the 11th president of Suffolk University. Her appointment follows a comprehensive community listening process and a robust search that included highly qualified and impressive domestic and international candidates, as well as an extensive discussion by the Board of Trustees of two exceptional final candidates. In Marisa, we have found the best person to build on our great legacy and forward momentum to ensure Suffolk’s long-term success.
Suffolk is a very special institution with a vitally important mission. We are a talent catalyst that opens doors of opportunity and empowers students to find new paths and succeed. Now more than ever, that kind of mission requires a special steward – someone who believes in the potential of our students and the dedication of our faculty and staff in supporting them. We are extremely fortunate to have found that person in Marisa. She is a passionate advocate for this great University and the difference it makes in the lives of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Marisa has been a force for positive change at Suffolk. She is the chief architect behind the great progress we are making, which is realized through the efforts and commitment of the entire University community. First as provost, then as acting president, she has put a laser-like focus on the strategic direction and initiatives that are elevating Suffolk’s academic quality and programs, its reputation and global reach, its fundraising successes, and its enrollment management. She has been resolute and outspoken in affirming this University’s longstanding commitment to inclusivity, and, as a result, that value is increasingly seen as a hallmark of a Suffolk education. She has outlined clear direction for where the University must go to best serve its students, and she has the proven experience to take us there. In fact, she is doing it already.
Our students are Marisa’s focus in all of her efforts. Improving student support—from academic instruction to advising; counseling, health and wellness; career development; and international student services—has been a priority since she arrived on campus. She has developed strong relationships with student leaders and government groups as well as with individual students across campus. She’s gotten to know our students by visiting our Madrid campus; at lectures, performances, and sporting events; and while working with students on diversity, veterans’ matters, and other important issues facing the University.
Marisa has a distinguished record of collaborative academic leadership. Before joining Suffolk as provost in 2014, she served as provost at Ithaca College; dean and McQuinn Distinguished Chair of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota; and as a faculty member and administrator for twelve years at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Kansas, an MA in Political Theory from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Government from California State University at Sacramento.
She is compassionate and empathetic; a great listener and a consensus builder who also is very willing to make tough decisions. She empowers those around her to do their best work. Marisa has been an ideal partner for the Board as we make important strides in our goal to become a recognized national leader in best practices in higher education governance. She has surrounded herself with a talented leadership team that is working—together, and in concert with the Board, faculty, staff, students, and the alumni community—to move the University forward today and to position it for success in the future.
I want to thank the Presidential Search Committee along with the many people from across the Suffolk community who provided thoughtful input during the listening phase of the search. The qualities that you said were most important—a collegial and collaborative leader with great vision and a willingness to take action; an agent for positive change and an advocate for our great culture—these are the qualities that we have come to know in Marisa Kelly.
I invite you to learn more about Marisa’s accomplishments on behalf of the University in our online press release.
It is a new day at Suffolk University. We are moving forward and building on the strong momentum generated over the past 20 months. I have no doubt that with President Marisa Kelly leading this vital University, Suffolk will succeed in delivering on its promises to future generations of students.
Chair, Suffolk University Board of Trustees