Interim Kelly pushes for progress

Acting president hopes to promote communication to improve university relations

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Courtesy of Suffolk University

Courtesy of Suffolk University

Campus community. Commitment. Moving forward. These were the three phrases that were continuously repeated by Marisa Kelly, Suffolk’s acting interim president.

Following a turbulent spring and summer, concluding with the surprise ousting of former president Margaret McKenna, in the attending media flurry. Kelly as Suffolk’s newest head, is all about calm and moving forward.

After articles surfaced in The Boston Globe and The Herald reporting on the actions between the Board of Trustees and former President McKenna, Kelly was appointed instantly following McKenna’s ousting.

“It’s always a challenge being in an environment like Boston, where the local media, quite frankly, is looking to report on what all colleges and universities are doing,” said Kelly. “I found out and was appointed all in one swoop. But, the bylaws of the Board do put the provost in as acting president any time there’s a transition”

To add to the challenge, McKenna’s ousting came at a time when the university had transitioned from two buildings that served as its campus core on historic Beacon Hill. This move had the university in the midst of a rapid renovation of the Sawyer building and of 73 Tremont in order to accommodate classrooms and student activities.

Key among her goals as acting president was her goal to better communicate with faculty and students and developing a firm relationship with the newly appointed Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Lamb.

Kelly’s efforts to include communications have begun by creating a president’s blog that will be updated frequently on the university’s website. She hopes it will “give me the opportunity to see what members of the campus community think about the things that I’m posting.”

Kelly also plans to meet with Suffolk’s Student Government Association sometime in the next month, an organization that had strong ties with former President McKenna.

Among the positive things that were going on at Suffolk, she highlighted the new renovations to the Sawyer building, the Michael and Larry Smith Fitness Center in Ridgeway and hopes to bring the long-delayed New England School of Art and Design closer to the campus by spring 2017.

NESAD’s current location and distant space on Arlington Street has been a point of contention. Faculty and students have argued that the school’s separation has prevented integration with the rest of the college community. Efforts to improve this situation in the past have fallen short.

Kelly’s plan is to move NESAD into more renovated spaces that will be made in the Sawyer building. Classrooms will be displaced because of the renovation and will be moved to the fifth floor of 73 Tremont Street, according to Kelly.

That, Kelly maintained, will increase interdisciplinary programs between NESAD and other departments within the university.

“NESAD already works collaboratively with faculty, with [the] College of Arts and Sciences and with the business school,” she said. “I think having them here on the main campus is really going to help those collaborations grow and develop even further.”

The hope for even more interdisciplinary programs comes out of the university’s newly formed Center for Ecology and Sustainability. Although, the program is currently housed in CAS, it was developed by a group of faculty from both the business and the law school.

The Board is expected to form a search committee for a new president. According to Kelly, the timeline is currently unknown and said she is not involved in the search. She had no comment on how students will be involved.

As the sixth president in as many years, Kelly ensured that despite the turmoil in the past, Suffolk will remain the institution of great commitment and promise.

“Despite all the swirl there has been at the top over the last few years, these values will continue no matter who is in charge,” she said.

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