J. Keith Motley Citation - Commencement 2016

May 22, 2016


True leaders lead by example, and you have been doing just that during your 40 years in higher education. Your career reflects a deep commitment to the highest principles of public education; you have inspired thousands of students, faculty, and administrators who have been guided by your steady hand, your belief in team work, and your focus on the power of education to transform both individuals and communities.

Over your long and distinguished career, you have touched on practically every aspect of student life. You launched your professional career at your alma mater, Northeastern, where you excelled in successive areas—starting in admissions, transitioning into diversity issues, and then ultimately becoming the dean of students.

Today, you serve as the eighth chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston, a research university with 11 colleges and graduate schools and 17,000 students. Prior to your appointment as chancellor in 2007, you served as vice president for business, marketing, and public affairs at the system-wide University of Massachusetts President’s Office. You have also been a leader in the community. You are a founder of the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School and chair emeritus of the school’s board of trustees. You are founder and education chair of Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts, Inc., and the Paul Robeson Institute for Positive Self-Development, an academic and social enrichment program for school-aged children of color. You also serve on numerous boards of community organizations with local, regional, and national reach.

A lifelong learner, you have put values first, encouraging the potential in others by leading with grace and dignity. For your vision of education and access — the lives you have changed and the goals you have realized -  we are proud to bestow upon you, J. Keith Motley, honoris causa, the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.