Barry Mills is the interim chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston, effective July 1, 2017. He had served as deputy chancellor and chief operating officer at UMass Boston since March 2017.
Mills is the emeritus president of Bowdoin College. He was inaugurated as Bowdoin's fourteenth president in October 2001 as the college was beginning its 200th academic year, and served 14 years as president of Bowdoin retiring on June 30, 2015. During his tenure, Mills worked to increase national visibility for Bowdoin, underscored the primacy of Bowdoin’s academic program, and worked with the faculty to redefine a liberal arts education for the twenty-first century. In the early years of his tenure, Mills led the first major curriculum reform at Bowdoin since the early 1980s. Under his leadership, the college also successfully recommitted itself to the goal of expanding ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic diversity among students, faculty, and employees. Mills worked to bolster the humanities and to strengthen support for the arts at the college, overseeing several expansions and renovations of art, music, and dance facilities. Mills also emphasized sustainability efforts at the college through the construction of "green" facilities and other conservation efforts.
Improved opportunity and access to Bowdoin was a priority of the Mills administration. Mills repeatedly declared financial aid fundraising to be the single most important initiative at the college. In 2008 the college announced the replacement of student loans with grants for all students receiving financial aid, beginning with the 2008-09 academic year. Bowdoin’s endowment — of which 45 percent is restricted to financial aid — continued to grow during Mills’s tenure. The growth of Bowdoin’s endowment during his tenure enhanced its academic program by adding faculty and by focusing resources on the faculty/student experience, faculty scholarship, and the intellectual life of the college.
Mills previously served as the deputy presiding partner of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City, one of the nation's preeminent international law firms. He joined the firm in 1979 and became a partner in 1986. His work at Debevoise concentrated on corporate law, real estate, and corporate finance.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Mills graduated in 1968 from Pilgrim High School in Warwick, Rhode Island. A dean's list student at Bowdoin, Mills graduated cum laude in 1972 with a double major in biochemistry and government. He earned his doctorate in biology in 1976 at Syracuse University. He earned his law degree at the Columbia University School of Law in 1979, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.
Mills is married to Karen Gordon Mills, the former administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the Obama Administration, who is currently a senior fellow at the Harvard Business School and at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. Since 1983 Karen Mills has been an active leader in managing and growing small businesses and in public policy around innovation and job creation. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1975 with a degree in economics and earned her MBA at the Harvard Business School in 1977. She is a member of the Harvard Corporation, known formally as the President and Fellows of Harvard College — Harvard’s principal fiduciary governing board. Barry and Karen have three adult sons: William, Henry, and George.