Marisa J. Kelly was inducted as the 11th president of Suffolk University Friday during an inauguration ceremony at
Tremont Temple’s Converse Hall.
“We are Suffolk University, and we are a powerful force for good. It is a power derived from the strength of our community, from our commitment to inclusion and from our dedication to an essential mission,” Kelly said while addressing a capacity-crowd of students, faculty and staff, alumni and friends, and dignitaries. “We have been a force for good for more than a century, improving the lives of countless individuals along the way. And that is how we want the world to know us.”
Kelly joined the Suffolk staff in August of 2014 as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost and has led the university since 2016, initially serving as interim president, before assuming the role permanently in March of this year.
Citing the university’s “strong track record of enrolling and ultimately graduating students from low-income families,” Kelly said, “At a time when there is doubt and cynicism about the worthiness of a college degree, I will not mince words: The value of higher education is indisputable, and for many Suffolk students, it is literally life-changing.
“We want to continue to deliver those transformative experiences to even broader populations from across the nation and around the world, even as we continue to serve students from the city of Boston and the region, including ensuring we serve even more members of this city’s racially diverse population,” she added.
Kelly outlined her vision for Suffolk’s future, including among other inititiatives, expanding “experiential learning offerings,” making “career services a centerpiece of the university” and developing an Honors College, which would bring honors students together from all three schools – the Suffolk College of Arts and Sciences, the Suffolk University Law School and the Sawyer Business School – to collaborate on pilot programs that could eventually become part of the general academic curriculum.
“I’m exceedingly hopeful and optimistic about the future of this university,” Kelly said.
Suffolk Board Chair Robert Lamb described Kelly as a “gifted, talented, result-driven leader with a passion for this university.”
“Change at Suffolk will continue and success will as well, as Marisa leads us forward,” Lamb said. “We know you are our prefect leader.”
U.S. Sen. Edward Markey said, “You will animate your work with the values of justice and tolerance and liberty and equality for all. We are here for you, Madame President, because Suffolk University is a piston in our economic engine, driving us forward as a city, as a commonwealth and as a country.”
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who holds an honorary degree from Suffolk Law Degree in recognition of his commitment to public service, echoed this sentiment when he said: “This university is an engine of upward mobility. Already President Kelly has built on this proud legacy. She is embracing our city’s diversity and expanding those opportunities even further. …I’m proud to have her in this role as we grow as a leader in education, a champion for equal rights and a city of opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo said, “My Suffolk Law degree is one of my top credentials, and I know it’s the same for other graduates. This university uniquely promotes civic duty. It encourages and prepares its students to pursue careers in government, in nonprofits, in service of communities, families and individuals.
“I know that Marisa Kelly will lead Suffolk into the future with passion, with excellence and in keeping with the University’s tradition of cultivating public servants,” DeLeo added.
Another Suffolk Law graduate, Justice Elspeth Cypher of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, said, “[Kelly] has already demonstrated the talent and foresight that a university needs in its president to thrive today in the complex and quickly evolving society we find ourselves in.
“I want to say congratulations, President Kelly, but perhaps it’s better to say: Congratulations, Suffolk University. You have selected a good president, a great one,” Cypher said.