Barry Mills, known for his successful tenure as president of Bowdoin College, today was named deputy chancellor and chief operating officer of the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Mills’ appointment reflects the paramount importance the university’s leadership attaches to ensuring UMass Boston’s long-term success.
“Barry’s desire to join us is indicative of his deep regard for UMass Boston and its mission — and the passion he has for unlocking the full potential in each and every student who walks through our doors,” said UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley. “I look forward to working with him in what is certain to be a fruitful and productive partnership.”
Mills will oversee the academic and research program and campus operations, and will work with Motley on developing and refining long-term strategy for the campus.
UMass President Marty Meehan said Mills will be “a phenomenal asset” for UMass Boston and for the university’s leadership team.
“Throughout the course of his presidency at Bowdoin, Barry Mills was recognized as one of the nation’s preeminent higher education leaders, managing his institution carefully and skillfully, while always maintaining an idealist’s passion for extending higher education’s promise to all, regardless of income or background,” President Meehan said.
“I am looking forward to joining the UMass Boston family to enhance access and opportunity for students across Massachusetts and beyond,” said Mills. “Public education at all levels is central to our success here in Boston, in Massachusetts and throughout the United States. Our goal is to grow Boston’s public research university in a manner that is focused on excellence and affordability. It will be an honor to work with President Meehan, Chancellor Motley, the UMass trustees and UMass Boston students, faculty, and staff to ensure that UMass Boston delivers on its promise to the Commonwealth. I am very grateful to Chancellor Motley and President Meehan for the confidence they have shown in asking me to join the team.”
Robert J. Manning, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, applauded the appointment, saying: “The Board of Trustees is thrilled to have someone with the stature and ability of Barry Mills coming to our Boston campus. We are committed to him and will do everything in our power to make him and UMass Boston successful.”
Born in Providence, R.I., Mills graduated from Bowdoin College cum laude in 1972 with a double major in biochemistry and government. He earned his doctorate in biology in 1976 at Syracuse University and a law degree in 1979 from the Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.
Mills became president of Bowdoin in 2001, having enjoyed a legal career that saw him rise to the position of partner at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City, one of the nation's preeminent international law firms. His work at Debevoise concentrated on corporate law, real estate and corporate finance.
Mills is married to Karen Gordon Mills, the former administrator of the Small Business Administration in the Obama administration, who is currently a senior fellow at the Harvard Business School, focusing on U.S. competitiveness, entrepreneurship and innovation.
Mills’ presidency at Bowdoin featured many successes. During his 14 years as the college’s leader, Bowdoin refined and augmented its academic programs. It also:
*Increased its endowment by nearly $1 billion, with the fund growing from $470 million in 2001 to nearly $1.4 billion in 2015
*Replaced student loans with grants for all students receiving financial aid
*Saw minority enrollment more than double, rising from 14 percent of total enrollment in 2001 to 33 percent in 2015
*Significantly increased campus sustainability through the construction of green facilities and other conservation efforts
*Completed a major curriculum reform
*Strengthened its fiscal position and maintained its financial equilibrium during the economic downturn that began in 2008
While he boosted Bowdoin’s fortunes in many areas, Mills, who was able to attend the college because of financial aid, had an overarching priority throughout the course of his presidency. In a 2015 interview with the publication Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Mills said that increasing access and affordability for low-income families and students of color “has been my single-minded commitment.”
The student newspaper The Bowdoin Orient, summing up Mills’ presidency, wrote: “When President Barry Mills departs … he will leave behind a legacy of increased access to Bowdoin and a more diverse student body, something he accomplished through a dramatic expansion of the College’s financial aid program.”
“It’s been at the heart and soul of my commitment to the College since the day I came,” Mills told the student paper.
Mills was named president emeritus after leaving Bowdoin in 2015.
UMass Boston, the city’s only public research university, is known for offering high-quality academic programs and for conducting research in areas that directly affect people’s lives, such as public health, education and the environment. UMass Boston faculty researchers played a significant role in planning and executing the cleanup of Boston Harbor and are now working to eliminate racially based health disparities. UMass Boston has a major cancer research partnership with the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. The university attracts students from throughout the nation and 150 countries.
“Given UMass Boston’s importance to the city, the state and to the many thousands of students who come through its doors, we are very fortunate to have someone with Barry Mills’ experience, expertise and commitment take on this critical role,” President Meehan said.