Committee Narrows Number of Chancellor Candidates

Chancellor Motley, Whither CPCS?

Chancellor Motley, Whither CPCS?

Gintautas Dumcius

Neither chilling cold nor mountains of snow could stop the chancellor search committee from meeting this week as they sought to winnow the field of candidates to a workable number for the interview phase.

All but two of the 21 members of the search committee, headed up by Stacey Rainey, former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Jane Swift and a UMass trustee, met behind closed doors for nearly four hours Tuesday morning, going over the resumes of a large slate of candidates, said to number over a hundred.

UMass President Jack Wilson and the UMass Board of Trustees will pick and appoint one of the candidates chancellor in May to replace Jo Ann Gora, who left in August for Ball State University after three years at the helm of the harbor campus. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Keith Motley, a popular figure on campus since arriving here a year ago from Northeastern University, is serving on the interim while pursuing the permanent position.

University officials say the number of candidates currently stands at nearly a dozen, with the group said to be as diverse as UMass Boston itself. According to the university, UMass Boston is the most ethnically diverse university in New England.

But much like last year’s search for UMass president last year, “people can enter and depart the field,” said Robert Connolly, spokesperson for the President’s Office. “The door never really closes” until the committee makes it recommendation, he added. Candidate interviews are expected to take place over the next several weeks.

Connolly declined to comment on who is or isn’t in the field of candidates and whether Motley is among them.

Steady support has been building from the start for Motley, in his seventh month as interim chancellor, and the first person of color to lead UMass Boston. At an open forum last November, held by the search committee, several students voiced support by bringing “Let’s Keep Keith” signs. Over the last couple of months, many in the campus’ upper circles have come to believe the job is Motley’s to lose.

In an phone interview Tuesday, Motley said he was enjoying his time as interim chancellor. “I try not to change my focus, and that’s really been to do the best possible job that I can as the chancellor during this interim period.”

Motley, who has yet to meet with the committee, said he was very happy when the committee called him before the holidays to let him know he had been nominated for the permanent position. “After that, it’s been up to them,” he said. With the search for a new chancellor, “it gives us an opportunity to move forward as a campus and get some steady leadership and that kind of thing, and I’m just glad I’m able to bridge that,” he said.

During its four-hour meeting at the President’s Office at Beacon Street, the committee, which reportedly had only trustee and Raytheon director Dennis Austin and Partners for Community chairman Heriberto Flores absent, is said to have discussed locations for meeting and interviewing the slate of candidates.

Like in other executive searches, in which candidates usually demand confidentiality for a variety of reasons, most meetings are expected to take place at out-of-state airports and hotels, to avoid compromising candidates’ privacy.

The next full meeting remains unscheduled, but university officials say the search and the committee remain on track, with April as the deadline for a recommendation from the search committee to President Wilson.