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The Mass Media

Kicking off UMass Boston’s Fall Semester: first year with re-named residence halls

Olivia Reid
A crowd gathers outside the residence halls for the building dedication ceremony on April 28, 2023. Photo by Olivia Reid / Photography Editor.

Late into the Spring 2023 semester, UMass Boston’s Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco released a statement to the student body regarding changing the names of the student residence halls. [1]

Originally named East and West Residence Halls, Chancellor Suárez-Orozco announced the new names to honor previous UMass Boston Chancellor Emeritus Dr. J. Keith Motley and his wife, Angela Motley. According to UMass Boston’s Office of Communications, “This dedication recognizes the Motleys’ long-standing commitment to UMass Boston and its students.” [2]

In his email to the student body announcing the change, Suárez-Orozco gave a brief overview of former Chancellor Dr. Motley. “As you know, Dr. Motley served as UMass Boston’s first African American chancellor, from July 2007 to June 2017. As chancellor, Dr. Motley oversaw a strategic planning initiative to enhance UMass Boston’s physical campus, academic programs and research enterprise, grow enrollment to meet increasing demands for a diverse, well-educated workforce and strengthen its commitment to access, inclusion and public service.” [1]

The residence halls first opened their doors to students at the beginning of the fall semester in 2018, just one year after Dr. Motley stepped down from his position. According to Suárez-Orozco, the Student Board of Trustees voted on the name change as “a testament to their leadership, foresight and hard work in making our residence halls a permanent feature of campus life on Columbia Point.” [1]

Second year undergraduate student Matthew Almeida had previously lived in the student residence halls. He gave his opinion in favor of the name change, supporting the decision. “I think it’s a good idea. If you look at other dorms at different schools, most of them are named after someone who is historically related to the school. East and West have always just been extremely boring names.” 

Both Dr. Motley and Mrs. Motley had a significant impact on UMass Boston from the start of their careers on campus. Since the beginning of his career on campus as vice chancellor for student affairs in 2003, Dr. Motley and Angela’s impressive resume and contributions helped UMass Boston flourish into the campus it is today. [2]

The Office of Communications provided a timeline of both Dr. Motley’s and Mrs. Motley’s achievements in their positions over the years. Dr. Motley presided over the UMass Boston master plan from 2007 to 2017. From the UMass Boston’s website, the Office of Communications wrote, “As chancellor, he was a relentless champion for equity while leveraging 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.” [2]

Mrs. Motley’s role was extremely valued during the time of the kick start to UMass Boston’s master plan. She held countless fundraising events and efforts, and also dedicated much of her time to student mentorship and service opportunities; a cause both Mrs. Motley and Dr. Motley were passionate about. [3]

 The private ceremony for the official name change was held Friday, Apr 28, 2023, in the center walk way of both residence halls. Both Dr. Motley and Mrs. Motley gave speeches prior to the ceremony, expressing their appreciation and gratitude for the dedication to the residence halls. [3]

“My wife Angela and I are deeply honored by the recognition,” Dr. Motley told the Office of Communications. “UMass Boston is a special university, a diverse and energetic hub for learning and opportunity, and the residence hall has added an important dimension to campus life while helping the university draw students from nearby and all over the globe. I’m grateful to President Meehan and the UMass Board of Trustees for emblazing Angela’s and my name on a building that symbolizes so much to me and means so much to the university.” [2]

“For many years, UMass Boston was our home away from home and in interacting with thousands of students at events and activities large and small I saw firsthand the transformational power of the university,” stated Mrs. Motley. “The residence hall has been a dream of ours realized and to have it named after us is both deeply humbling and gratifying.” [2]

Now that the Fall 2023 semester is underway, the further dedication to the residence halls will provide a significance to the new residents that have chosen to live here on campus. Instead of just “East and West,” the residence halls finally have a historical meaning to the school, its students and alumni. 


  1. Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco email
  2. Office of Communications https://www.umb.edu/news/recent-news/umass-boston-residence-hall-to-be-named-in-honor-o/#:~:text=Today%2C%20the%20University%20of%20Massachusetts,former%20first%20lady%20Angela%20Motley.
  3. HerCampus  https://www.hercampus.com/school/u-mass-boston/umass-boston-rename-residence-halls/
About the Contributors
Samantha Beady, News Editor
Olivia Reid, Photo Editor