President Marisa Kelly is a collaborative and results-oriented leader who is driving momentum at Suffolk University through her focus on educational excellence, experiential learning, global reach, and inclusion, all aimed at ensuring students are prepared for career success and community impact. She has been resolute in affirming Suffolk’s longstanding commitment to inclusivity as a hallmark of a Suffolk education and believes the University’s strength is greater because of its diversity.
Kelly was named Suffolk’s permanent president in March 2018 after guiding the University as acting president for 20 months. As Suffolk’s 11th president, Marisa Kelly has recommitted the University to its essential access and opportunity mission, with a view toward empowering and supporting students today and in the future.
Since arriving at Suffolk as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost in 2014 Kelly has focused the University on further improving student support in areas such as career development, international student services, and health and wellness. That support has remained a priority for her as president. She has championed innovative and interdisciplinary programming and has been an advocate for expanding Suffolk’s international reach and global approach to education.
As president, she initiated and led a strategic planning process that culminated in the Suffolk 2025 plan and is now being implemented. And under her leadership, Suffolk has shattered fundraising goals and has been praised for its strong financial management.
President Kelly is building a stronger and more connected University community and believes that the University’s success depends on strong bonds among faculty, staff, students, alumni, University partners, and many others.
President Kelly 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.
She began her academic career as a member of the faculty and administrator at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. She later served as dean and McQuinn Distinguished Chair of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. From there she became provost at Ithaca College before joining Suffolk as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.