A 2014 MCLA graduate takes a selfie with President Mary Grant at commencement this past May. Grant is leaving the college after a dozen years to become chancellor of UNC's Asheville campus.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — President Mary K. Grant, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' 11th president and the first alumna to serve in that capacity, is leaving the college to become chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside Dr. Grant. Under her leadership the College has flourished. I am excited and happy about the many opportunities that the future holds for both the UNC Asheville and MCLA communities," Tyler Fairbank, chairman of MCLA's board of trustees, said.
Grant came to MCLA in 2002. Over the past 12 years, the college has expanded academic programming, technology, and infrastructure; recruited outstanding faculty; provided students with enhanced study away, internship, research, and service opportunities; increased enrollment and diversity; deepened the connections between the college and the greater Berkshire community; oversaw the development and implementation of the college's strategic plan; launched the college's first comprehensive Capital Campaign; secured the largest gift in the history of the college; and led the campus to become a member of the Massachusetts State University System, among many other achievements.
"President Grant is a true advocate for public higher education which drives her commitment to promote and ensure access to all individuals," Fairbank said. "President Grant spearheaded a host of partnerships, including the Berkshire Compact for Education. Through her hard work and tireless dedication to the campus and community she loves, she will leave MCLA and Berkshire County a better place, and has impacted countless people for the better.
"We will deeply miss her, but wish her our very best," Fairbank said.
Fairbank said MCLA is in "an excellent position" to manage this transition.
"We have an outstanding, committed senior team, faculty, staff, and supportive community coupled with an experienced and engaged Board of Trustees and Foundation Board of Directors," Fairbank said. "We will use this time to thoughtfully develop a process, timeline, and plan for this transition. As we look toward the future I am confident that with this strong team in place we will maintain momentum and continue on the trajectory of success and accomplishment that has become a trademark of MCLA."
Grant said her time as MCLA president has been "rich and rewarding."
"The institution we are today represents our focused, intentional, and unwavering commitment to our students, this campus, and the community at large," she said. At every step, progress has been made thanks to the dedication, investment, and support of faculty, staff, students, trustees, foundation directors, members of the alumni board, alumni, friends and colleagues.
"I am proud of the college's 120-year history serving the region and the commonwealth, and I remain excited about the many opportunities that the future holds for the MCLA community to deepen and expand innovation and creativity across the Berkshires."
North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright wished Grant luck in her new position.
"Her commitment to higher education at the local, state and federal levels has been wide reaching and highly effective," he said. "Her hard work is evidenced each and every day at MCLA, and her overarching utilization of the campus as an economic engine for the Berkshires is the very visible proof of her hard work and dedication.
"President Grant has been a force not only in growing MCLA, but also bolstering our local educational systems in so many ways. I, along with this entire community, will miss her immensely and we all wish her well as she embarks on this exciting new chapter in her life."
During Grant's tenure, MCLA has also provided leadership to advance the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) agenda in Berkshire County and statewide, spearheading efforts that led to MCLA successfully securing $54 million to fund the Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation, which opened in September 2013, and renovate Bowman Hall. Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation's Top-Ten Public Liberal Arts Colleges, MCLA has also been named to the President's Honor Roll for Service by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Grant holds a doctorate in social policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University, a master's degree in public affairs from the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at University of Massachusetts at Boston, and a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. In 2012, Grant received an honorary degree from Williams College.
Also in 2012, Grant was one of six finalists selected by a search committee to replace retiring Chancellor Jean MacCormack at the University of Massachusetts' Dartmouth campus. However, she withdrew her name, feeling it wasn't a good fit.
UNC President Tom Ross, in recommending Grant for the UNC Asheville post, said: "Mary Grant brings to UNC Asheville almost 25 years of academic and leadership experience at two highly respected public universities, a solid reputation as an energetic and creative problem solver, and a passionate belief in the enduring value of liberal arts education. Throughout her career, she also has made community involvement a key priority and proven herself to be an engaged and effective leader who promotes openness, collaboration, and strategic thinking. We are most fortunate to gain a leader with this wealth of talent, enthusiasm, and commitment."
The oldest public university in the nation, the University of North Carolina enrolls more than 220,000 students and encompasses all 16 of North Carolina’s public institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees, as well as the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the nation’s first public residential high school for gifted students. UNC-Asheville is the designated liberal arts institution for the UNC system, with an enrollment of about 3,700 undergraduate students and 730 faculty and staff.