Mary K. Grant

University of North Carolina at Asheville

Mary K. Grant, Ph.D., was appointed UNC Asheville’s seventh chancellor in August 2014 and began leadership of UNC Asheville in January 2015.  Previously, she served for 12 years as president of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), in North Adams, Massachusetts.

A leader in the public liberal arts, Grant oversaw growth in enrollment at MCLA, strengthened the connections between the college and the community and launched the college’s first comprehensive capital campaign.

Grant is a passionate advocate for public higher education, civic engagement and community service. For her longstanding efforts and contributions, she received the 2014 MCLA Distinguished Alumnus Award, and received the 2014 New England Board of Higher Education’s (NEBHE) Massachusetts State Merit Award. She is the recipient of the 2011 American Council on Education Massachusetts National Network of Women Leaders Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2011 Francis H. Hayden Award from the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. In 2010, she received the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District I Executive Leadership Award in recognition of her success in increasing MCLA’s institutional stature in, and service to, the community. During her tenure as MCLA’s 11th president, the college joined the Massachusetts State University System and was designated a top 10 public liberal arts college by U.S. News and World Report, joining UNC Asheville on this prestigious list.

Hallmarks of Grant’s leadership include expanding academic programming and facilities; recruiting an array of outstanding new faculty; and providing students with new study away, internship, research, and service opportunities. She also provided leadership to advance the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) agenda in Berkshire County and statewide in Massachusetts, spearheading efforts leading to MCLA successfully securing $54 million to fund the Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation. In addition, she established the Berkshire Compact for Education, a countywide initiative focused on strengthening education in Berkshire County.

Grant’s board service includes Campus Compact, Commonwealth Covenant Fund, MassINC, Norman Rockwell Museum, John Adams Innovation Institute, and University of Massachusetts Boston Board of Visitors, among others. She also served on the Massachusetts Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Advisory Council and was chair of the Council of Presidents of the Massachusetts Statewide University System; chair of the board of the Massachusetts Campus Compact; and president of the board of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), of which MCLA and UNC Asheville are members.

Prior to her presidency at MCLA, she had extensive experience in public higher education including serving as the chief academic officer and deputy CEO of UmassOnline. She was a senior fellow at the John W. McCormack Institute of Public Affairs at UMass Boston, where she held several key administrative positions, including director of the Center for Social Policy and assistant vice chancellor for administration and finance and human resources. She also served as chair of the institute’s faculty.

Grant holds a Ph.D. in social policy from The Heller School at Brandeis University, a master’s degree in public affairs from the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. In 2012, Grant received an honorary degree from Williams College.

Grant is married to Jim Canavan, a management consultant and nonprofit leader, and they reside on campus in the Brumit Pisgah House with their dog, Sweeney.