The Legacy of Jacquie Moloney

Chancellor Jacquie Moloney

By Sarah Corbett

Jacquie Moloney ’75, ’92 has been every kind of River Hawk. 

She was a first-generation undergrad, then a grad student. She was on the faculty, and on the staff. She’s an active alumna, and a top donor. She was a dean, a vice chancellor and, for the last seven years, led UMass Lowell from the very top of its org chart. She launched or oversaw so many programs and initiatives over her nearly four decades at the university, that it’s impossible to list them all here.

When she stepped down as chancellor at the end of June, she left a university standing strong after weathering a pandemic, with record gains in student enrollment, academic preparedness, diversity and graduation and retention rates. Faculty hiring, research expenditures, fundraising and economic development activities have all reached new heights.    

But Jacquie Moloney’s hidden legacy is less about data points — and all about the students’ lives she touched.   

“Students always come first for her,” says Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations Patricia McCafferty. “They’ll email her, or approach her at an event, or ride up in the elevator with her  — and she always engages them, and gets them to tell her their story. Maybe they’re short a few credits needed to graduate, or they can’t register for classes because of an overdue balance, or they are considering dropping out because they’re working two jobs and going to class is too much. 

“Next thing you know, Jacquie is meeting with them in her office, inviting others who can help, providing them with an inspirational book to read — and then following up to make sure all is resolved. That’s just Jacquie; she truly cares.”

That’s as true now as it was when she took over the fledgling College Prep program in her earliest days at UML. Under her leadership, the program morphed into what is now known as the Centers for Learning and Academic Support Services, which serves thousands of students every year and is a major contributor to UMass Lowell’s first-year student retention and record gains in graduation rates. 

“The idea was to create opportunity,” says Moloney. It was an idea, and an ideal, she held on to for 38 years.  

 “The goal was to give students the chance to succeed,” she says. “And I think we did that. I think we changed some lives.”