Marty Meehan is the first undergraduate alumnus to lead the five-campus University of Massachusetts system. He became the university’s 27th president after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and as chancellor of UMass Lowell.
Born in Lowell, President Meehan was one of seven children and grew up in a family where the importance of education was always stressed. After attending the Lowell public schools, President Meehan, a first-generation college student, graduated cum laude from UMass Lowell in 1978 with a degree in education and political science.
President Meehan has an abiding belief in public higher education’s power to transform lives, and believes that the University of Massachusetts is the singular force for social and economic progress in the Commonwealth.
He was elected to the presidency after eight successful years as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he led the campus on its rise to top-tier national university status, improving its performance in every sphere of activity.
President Meehan embraced a career in public service early in his life. He served as the deputy secretary of state for securities and corporations from 1986 to 1990. During that time, he was recognized by The Boston Globe for transforming the securities division from “being a frequent embarrassment to gaining a national reputation as hard-hitting and activist.’’
In 1991, President Meehan was appointed first assistant district attorney for Middlesex County. He managed a staff of more than 150 people, including 80 prosecutors, and established an innovative “priority prosecution” policy that targeted hardened criminals.
Seeing an opportunity to bring his public service commitment to a broader audience and to serve his nation, President Meehan ran for U.S. Congress and was elected to represent the 5th Congressional District of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992. He served on the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees. He established a national reputation for his legislative leadership, including for his efforts to protect the public from the health risks of tobacco. President Meehan also was a central figure in campaign finance reform and a major sponsor of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, known as the McCain-Feingold Bill in the Senate and the Shays-Meehan Bill in the House.
After serving 14 years in Congress, President Meehan was elected chancellor of UMass Lowell in 2007. He made quality, diversity and access and affordability keystones of his vision to raise UMass Lowell’s national and international reputation and its impact. During his eight-year tenure, UMass Lowell climbed into the top-tier of U.S. News & World Report’s best national universities and was the third-fastest-rising institution on its list.
Now, as the leader of the 73,000-student public research university, President Meehan is poised to guide the University of Massachusetts – an engine for social mobility and economic development in the Commonwealth – into a new era of growth and achievement.
In addition to his degree from UMass Lowell, President Meehan earned a master’s degree in public administration from Suffolk University in 1981 and a juris doctor from Suffolk University Law School in 1986.
President Meehan currently resides in Andover with his wife, Ellen T. Murphy, and their two children, Robert Francis and Daniel Martin.