Marisa Kelly

President Marisa Kelly is creating positive momentum for Suffolk University through her explicit focus on academic quality, global reach, diversity and inclusion, reputation, advancement, and enrollment—all of which she sees as contributing to an outstanding student experience.

Kelly was named Suffolk’s permanent president in March 2018 after guiding the University as acting president for 20 months. Her leadership accomplishments are both concrete—shattering fundraising goals, adopting innovative curriculum, embracing best practices in governance—and more subtle—fostering an environment of inclusion and instilling confidence in students, faculty, and staff.

At a time of changing demographics, Suffolk is seeing positive enrollment trends under Kelly’s leadership. And her focus on financial management, local and international partnerships, and academic excellence are yielding positive trends for the University and enhancing the educational environment.

Kelly joined Suffolk University as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost in August 2014, with responsibility for working collaboratively to ensure the quality of the educational experience for students at all levels, in and outside of the classroom. In that role Kelly distinguished herself on the senior leadership team and demonstrated her commitment to experiential learning and the development of interdisciplinary educational opportunities.

Kelly, whose academic discipline is political science, has a distinguished record of collaborative academic leadership. Before joining Suffolk she served as provost at Ithaca College, dean and McQuinn Distinguished Chair of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, Minn., and spent 12 years as a faculty member and administrator at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.

She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Kansas, an MA in Political Theory from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Government from California State University at Sacramento.