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UML Announces Hiring of Northeastern’s Provost


New Chief Academic Affairs Officer Brings Experience, Expertise to Post

LOWELL ߝ UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan announced today that Ahmed Abdelal has been chosen as the University’s new provost. Abdelal will bring a track record of success in higher education management as well as expertise in science and research to the position.

Abdelal has served as provost of Northeastern University in Boston since 2002, and was dean of arts and sciences at Georgia State University from 1992 to 2002. Prior to that, he was chair of Biology at Georgia State for more than a decade. He holds a bachelor’s degree in food science from Cairo University, earned a doctorate in microbiology from the University of California, Davis and completed post-doctoral work at UC Davis as well as at the Institute for Microbiology at the University of Gottingen, Germany.

In his role as UMass Lowell provost, Abdelal will be the chief academic officer, overseeing long-term planning, curriculum, instruction, research, outreach and assessment, libraries and academic services.  He is expected to start in early June.
“It is an exciting opportunity to work with the UMass Lowell community under the visionary leadership of Marty Meehan to further this urban-oriented university as a vibrant center for arts and culture that prepares graduates and the workforce for the global marketplace and serves as an engine for economic development in partnership with industry and business,” said Abdelal.

In his leadership roles at Northeastern and Georgia State, Abdelal improved student retention rates, strengthened graduate and research programs and shaped strategies for investments in research, expanding faculty to strengthen students’ education and upgrades to learning and research facilities, including key areas like nanomanufacturing and engineering. At Northeastern, his work with the senior leadership team culminated with advancing the school’s US News and World Report ranking from 150 in 2001 to 98 in 2006.

“Dr. Abdelal will bring a proven track record of enabling students, faculty and administrators to pursue excellence in education to UMass Lowell, as evidenced by his many accomplishments at Northeastern University and Georgia State University,” said Meehan. “He has been steadfast in his commitment to building quality academic programs that meet the needs of students and employers. His commitment to truly interdisciplinary programs will enable him to build upon the work pioneered by many of the UMass Lowell faculty in this important area.”
Following a national search for candidates, Abdelal was selected to be the next provost by a committee of community leaders and faculty members from across disciplines at UMass Lowell. The selection process included interviews with the committee, as well as open forums with participation from any interested member of the University community.

“As Northeastern’s provost, Dr. Abdelal has led that institution through a period of major growth, achieving excellence in engineering and science research, including nanomanufacturing, strong university-industry and international partnerships, interdisciplinary social sciences research, and P-16 education,” said Prof. Julie Chen, co-chair of UMass Lowell’s Nanomanufacturing Center of Excellence and co-chair of the provost search committee. “In addition, he has successfully championed efforts to increase student retention and graduation rates. We look forward to the energy and experience he will bring to our campus.” 

Abdelal is a member of the American Academy for Microbiology, the American Society for Biological Chemists and the American Society for Industrial Microbiology. He has published 62 scientific papers and made many presentations at national meetings on science and higher education. His research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes for Health, Department of Energy and the Georgia Research Alliance.

Abdelal led both Northeastern and Georgia State in building partnerships across academic disciplines not only at home but with institutions around the world. These collaborations help prepare students to enter the global workforce and support the interests of faculty and the community. His collaborative approach to leadership has been featured in a case study by the Harvard Institutes of Higher Education.
“Dr. Abdelal is strongly committed to a collaborative leadership style that is critical to my vision of how we will all work together as a community to build the University into a nationally renowned institution,” said Meehan.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health. UML offers its 12,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.

For more information, contact or 978-934-3224