James McCarthy, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Baruch College, City University of New York, has been selected as the next president of Suffolk University, effective Feb. 1, 2012.

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved McCarthy’s appointment as Suffolk University’s ninth president at a Jan. 18 meeting.


Commitment to excellence

“Jim McCarthy is a proven academic leader and an eminent scholar who brings great vision and a wealth of experience to Suffolk University,” said Andrew C. Meyer, Jr., chairman of the Suffolk University Board of Trustees. “He shares the University’s commitment to excellence in teaching and to preparing each of our students for success and lifelong learning. He is a strategic thinker and an innovator with a passion for the positive role technology can play in education. And he understands the challenges and opportunities that come with a growing institution in the heart of a great city. At this critical juncture in the University’s history, I am exceedingly confident that Jim McCarthy is the right person to lead us into a new era of academic excellence.”

“I am honored to be joining Suffolk University, which was built on the principle of providing students with access to educational excellence and opportunity.” said McCarthy. “I also share Suffolk’s commitment to public service and can think of no university that is as deeply woven into the fabric of the city of Boston as Suffolk is. I am eager to meet the faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends of Suffolk University so that we may begin working together to advance the University.”

Academic leader

As provost and senior vice president at Baruch College since 2007, McCarthy has overseen Baruch’s academic programs and services, which encompass schools of arts and sciences, business and public affairs, as well as the College’s library and technology center and an extensive continuing education program. As Baruch’s chief academic officer, he managed an academic budget of more than $100 million and led efforts to develop a new five-year plan for the entire college.

Before joining Baruch, McCarthy was professor of Health Management and Policy and dean of the School of Health and Human Services at the University of New Hampshire for six years.

McCarthy was the Heilbrunn Professor of Public Health and director of the Heilbrunn Center for Population and Family Health at Columbia University for 13 years and previously taught in the Departments of Population Dynamics and Sociology at the Johns Hopkins University, where he served as director of the Hopkins Population Center for four years.

Sociologist focused on demography and health issues

A distinguished sociologist, McCarthy’s main research interests are in demography and adolescent and reproductive health, and he has published extensively on these topics. He is on the board of the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a board that he chaired for several years. The Irish Voice has named him one of the top 100 Irish-Americans in higher education in the United States for three years running.

McCarthy earned an A.B. from the College of the Holy Cross, an M.A. from Indiana University and a Ph.D. from Princeton University, all in Sociology.

"An outstanding leader"

“Jim McCarthy is an extraordinarily capable academic leader, and I am extremely sorry to be losing him as a senior colleague at Baruch College,” said Dr. Mitchel B. Wallerstein, president of Baruch College. “With a strong academic research and administration background, he understands intuitively what an effective university leader must do to take advantage of new opportunities in order to move forward a complex organization.”

McCarthy will lead a university offering programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels in its College of Arts and Sciences; in the Sawyer Business School, with a focus on global enterprise; and in a Law School that is among the nation’s leading institutions in litigation training and intellectual property. McCarthy joins Suffolk University following a period of expansion in academic programs, student enrollment and facilities.

“Suffolk University has chosen an outstanding leader,” said Matthew Goldstein, chancellor of the City University of New York. “Jim McCarthy is a distinguished academic, a seasoned and respected administrator, and a trusted colleague. CUNY will miss him, but we take great pride in his appointment as president of Suffolk University.”

“It is rare to find a person who is able to get things done, who is efficient, effective and dynamic, and who is at the same time a critical thinker, a creative person, a social scientist and a humanist,” said Roslyn Bernstein, a professor of Journalism at Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and director of the Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence Program at Baruch College. “Those things are generally found in different people. Somehow, Jim McCarthy’s genetic DNA brings them all together in one person, and I think that is admirable and extraordinary.”

The yearlong search for a president culminated in a vote by the Board of Trustees on Jan. 18. Provost Barry Brown has served as acting president since former President David J. Sargent retired in 2010.

“The Search Committee is very pleased to welcome Dr. James McCarthy to Suffolk University. He emerged from a strong field of candidates, and we are confident that he is a leader who will inspire the campus community as we enter a new era,” said University Trustee Dennis M. Duggan, Jr., who chaired the Presidential Search Committee. “I thank the members of the Search Committee for their sacrifice, focus, effort and thoughtful diligence over the past 10 months. And I join the committee in thanking our alumni, faculty, administrators, staff and students for their invaluable input and guidance throughout the process.”

Technology initiative

McCarthy’s leadership role in the wider academic community has most recently seen him collaborating on a study of online learning, and colleagues took note of his appointment as Suffolk University president.

“Jim McCarthy is an inspired choice for Suffolk University and also a terrific addition to the Boston higher education community,” said Lawrence S. Bacow, president emeritus of Tufts University and president in residence at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “I have worked with Jim this past year on a Gates Foundation study of the potential for new educational technologies to improve productivity and control costs in higher education. I have found Jim to be a creative, thoughtful and talented academic leader. A distinguished academic in his own right, he understands what it takes to support great teaching and great scholarship. I am confident he will be an excellent president of Suffolk University.”

“I congratulate Suffolk University most warmly on a truly excellent appointment,” said William G. Bowen, president emeritus of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and president emeritus of Princeton University. “I have a very high regard for Jim McCarthy as an academic and educational leader. He has done first-rate work at Baruch, and his broad interest in issues affecting all of higher education is most impressive. Jim and I are working closely together on a study of online learning, which I think has great promise.”