LOWELL -- University of Massachusetts President Jack Wilson announced his temporary pick to lead the Lowell campus yesterday, appointing David J. MacKenzie as UMass Lowell's interim chancellor.
MacKenzie, executive director of the UMass Building Authority, will take over for Chancellor William Hogan who plans to retire on July 3 after 25 years as head of the university.
The role will be a familiar one for MacKenzie, who stepped in to lead UMass Boston for seven months in 2001 on an interim basis. During that time, he broke ground on UMass Boston's new $80 million campus center.
Given the scope of two major building initiatives proposed for the Lowell campus, including a new biomanufacturing and nanotechology center, the selection of MacKenzie is being lauded by administrators and local leaders as the perfect choice.
"The determining factor was David's proven leadership. I certainly would not have picked a chancellor that couldn't accomplish some of the tasks on the table and that includes the building projects here in Lowell," Wilson said.
MacKenzie started at UMass in 1999, serving as vice chancellor for administration and finance at UMass Boston. He was tapped to lead the Building Authority in 2004, after Wilson moved to restructure the public agency.
The Building Authority is currently developing and building 37 projects worth more than $400 million, including a college parking garage near LeLacheur Park.
"These are big shoes to fill with Chancellor Hogan leaving," MacKenzie said. "This campus is ready to take off on a higher level of achievement and I'm honored and excited to be getting in on the ground floor."
Wilson and MacKenzie visited Lowell's Cumnock Hall yesterday morning, meeting with senior leadership at the university before announcing the appointment. Hogan, who is on vacation, did not attend the introduction meeting, but said in a statement that MacKenzie was an "ideal selection" who would provide for a seamless transition to a permanent chancellor.
Likewise, Hogan's colleagues could not have been happier with the choice.
"I can't wait. I think he's fabulous. It's a great choice for Lowell because he has so much experience with building facilities. I'm absolutely delighted," said Louise Griffin, vice chancellor for administration and finance. "He is great to work with, and much like Chancellor Hogan, he will be able to continue the same strong tradition here and keep us moving forward."
The state Legislature on Thursday approved $21 million in spending and another $14 million in bond money as part of a stimulus package to construct a new $70 million nano-biomanufacturing complex at UMass Lowell.
The university has also proposed a massive $266 million renovation project that would upgrade both UMass Lowell campuses and give the university a complete facelift.
"Given the issues surrounding the construction of the bio-manufacturing facility, having someone of David's expertise will be crucial to get that project up and running over the next eight to 12 months," state Sen. Steve Panagiotakos of Lowell said.
MacKenzie won't be a candidate for the permanent post.
Wilson plans to spend the summer assembling a search committee of faculty and staff to start the process of choosing Hogan's permanent replacement. An executive search firm will also likely be hired, with the search process beginning in earnest next fall.
"I'm convinced we will get very qualified applicants. UMass Lowell has a terrific reputation and this place is on the rise," he said.