Mary L. Churchill

Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement
Adjunct Professor

Dr. Mary L. Churchill joined Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development as the inaugural Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement. Prior to her time at Boston University, she served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Wheelock College where she helped lead the merger of Wheelock College and Boston University. Before she joined Wheelock College, Dr. Churchill was part of the leadership team at Salem State University, where was Associate Provost, Innovation and Partnerships; Interim Dean, School of Graduate Studies; and Dean, School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Churchill was born in Flint, Michigan and was the first in her family to attend college. She graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and earned Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Sociology at Northeastern. Dr. Churchill has taught undergraduate and graduate courses focused on social and political theory; quantitative methods; social movements; race, class, and gender; and cross-cultural understanding in the departments of Sociology, Political Science, and International Studies.

Churchill has held leadership roles in universities and colleges in New England for over twenty-five years. She was recruited to be the founding Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs in the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University. Among her accomplishments were working with faculty to develop graduate programs in Nonprofit Management, Human Services, TESOL, Criminal Justice, and Global Studies. Later, she was promoted to Senior Assistant Dean of Global Programs where she developed Bachelor’s Completion Programs and the Global Student Success Program and where she led the ESL Program, the Pathway Programs and the World Languages Center. During her tenure, the College of Professional Studies grew to include five academic divisions with total revenues of $72 million.

She left Northeastern after an offer from the President of Salem State University to work with senior leaders to develop revenue-generating initiatives. She was then offered the position of Associate Provost, Innovation and Partnerships and Dean, Continuing and Professional Studies and a year later, was asked to lead the School of Graduate Studies where she worked with faculty to develop programs in Digital Studies, Public History, Social Work, Education, Nursing, and Accounting. While at Salem State, Churchill also led the institution in the A.C.E. Comprehensive Internationalization Lab, expanded the Center for Research and Creative Activity, increased staff diversity, and reorganized the schools of graduate and professional studies.

Churchill is an international voice for social justice and change management within higher education. She is the creator and editor of University of Venus, an Education Writers Association award-winning blog at Inside Higher Ed and has written over 100 op-eds and blog posts published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Guardian (UK), and The Washington Post. Churchill is currently working on a book with David Chard on the Wheelock-Boston University merger (under contract, Johns Hopkins University Press).

She is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in higher education, particularly the promotion of women and people of color, which is an emphasis of her board leadership in the Massachusetts A.C.E. Women’s Network and her work as a guest faculty member of HERS Wellesley. Churchill has established herself as a strategic change leader in higher education and has consulted for numerous institutions including the Population Council of Cairo, the Boston Public Schools, Harvard Business Publishing, CUNY, SUNY, and the University of Massachusetts. She is also a member of The Boston Club, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women to significant and visible leadership roles, where she serves as incoming Vice Chair of the Governance Committee.

Churchill and her partner, Ernesto Valencia, live in Roxbury with their 14-year old son, who attends Boston Latin School within the Boston Public School system. She is active in the Roxbury community where she leads her neighborhood association and in her son’s school where she serves as secretary for the BLS Friends of the Arts.

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