Dr James Keith Motley  
- A tribute as he concludes his service as UMass Boston Chancellor

Keith Motley, President Meehan,. Chair Manning, Speaker DeLeo, Trustee Thomas and other distinguished guests.   I am honored and humbled to be here to express my gratitude to Dr. James Keith Motley and his entire family for all that they have done for our University, our community, our state, and for me both professionally and personally.  I want to offer particular thanks to Keith’s wife Angie and his children Keith Allyn, Kayla, and Jordan who have been incredible supporters of Keith and his work and personal friends to so many of us.

I first met Keith when he came to UMass in 2003 to lead Student Affairs.  It was obvious from the beginning that he was an individual of uncommon leadership ability and potential. 

A year after I became president, I asked Keith to serve as interim Chancellor here

I also suggested that, afterward, I wanted him to come into the President’s Office to serve as part of my administrative team and to be exposed to other aspects of University Leadership particularly in Academic Affairs and in Advancement.  His challenge as interim Chancellor was to rebuild the badly frayed bonds with the local community, stabilize the campus leadership team, and restore smooth operations to the campus.  It was not an easy assignment for anyone, but Keith did it very well.

After the search concluded, Keith came to the President’s Office as a Vice President.  Working with Keith for the next three years was always fun and productive.  He led our administrative team in developing an approach to office operations and communications that served us well even after he left.  He was instrumental in working with our Advancement offices at the system level -and on each campus.  I particularly recall with pleasure working with him on a project with one of our most distinguished alums that required quite a lot of listening and negotiation, but that eventually led to a multi-million dollar donation that benefits our students with scholarships every year.  When it came to helping students, Keith would spare no effort.

I asked him to return to UMass Boston as Chancellor on July 1, 2007.  Keith was well prepared to lead, and he certainly did lead very well.  For the next four years, I enjoyed working with Keith and admired the leadership that he provided to the campus.  Like most University leaders, he faced many challenges while never losing focus on what was most important to him and to me –creating great student learning experiences and sending well educated students into the community to serve. 

One of those unwelcome challenges was rebuilding a campus infrastructure that had been badly (and sadly corruptly) built by a state agency –not the University.  

No University leader wants to spend so much of their time on buildings.  Most of us want to focus on the academic programs and the student experience.  Keith Motley, more than most (and that is a high bar), was focused on the students.  In spite of all the other challenges, he did that and did it well. 

The UMass Boston campus is a far better place because of Keith Motley’s leadership.  The students here know that.  The faculty here know that.  The local community knows that, and we all know that too.

I know the Keith will continue to be the community leader that he has always been.  I am looking forward to watching him make those contributions.  I expect them to be impressive, just as his contributions thus far have been.

Keith, I am eternally grateful to you, Angie, and the rest of your wonderful family that I have come to know as friends -and almost family to me and Judi as well. 

Thank you and best wishes for every success in the next phase.

Dr. Jack M. Wilson, President-Emeritus  June 22, 2017