Former Muhlenberg College president appointed interim chancellor of UMass Dartmouth

Will bring presidential leadership experience and record of achievement on fundraising, enrollment and campus facilities to interim post

Randy Helm
At Muhlenberg, Helm presided over an era of growth and transformation, during which applications and enrollment increased, as the college continued to gain acclaim.

President Marty Meehan today announced that he has appointed former Muhlenberg College President Peyton Randolph (Randy) Helm as the interim chancellor of UMass Dartmouth.

Citing Helm’s leadership abilities and proven record of success, President Meehan said, “I am pleased that we will have someone with Randy’s wisdom, judgment and experience guiding UMass Dartmouth during this transitional period.”

“I firmly believe that interim Chancellor Helm possesses the skills and experience we need to position UMass Dartmouth for a new era of growth and success,” President Meehan said.

Victor Woolridge, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, praised Helm’s “distinguished record of academic leadership and commitment to students and their futures.”

Helm will begin his service in March after completing obligations that require foreign travel during February.

Helm retired last year after leading Muhlenberg College for 12 years and was named President Emeritus by the College’s trustees at Commencement last May.

Before his Muhlenberg presidency, Helm served as vice president for college relations and professor of classical studies at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and held leadership positions in student affairs and development at the University of Pennsylvania.

At Muhlenberg, Helm presided over an era of growth and transformation, during which applications and enrollment increased, as the college continued to gain acclaim. Muhlenberg’s endowment more than tripled -- rising from $70 million to $247 million – with that growth fueled by a $110 million capital campaign Helm oversaw. Helm was also credited with improving campus facilities and student life and developing a new curriculum. Muhlenberg also became more diverse during Helm’s presidency.

Helm said he looked forward to serving at UMass Dartmouth.

“This is an institution committed to transforming lives through the power of higher education, a purpose to which I have dedicated my career. With half of the University’s undergraduates being first-generation college-attendees, almost 40 percent qualifying for Pell grants, and many holding down jobs in addition to taking classes, UMass Dartmouth students are clearly motivated, determined, pragmatic and focused on their future,” he said.

“The University’s faculty have spoken eloquently of their respect for their students, their passion for teaching and their commitment to research. Members of the administrative leadership have begun sharing ideas with me on how their teams can support the important work of the University more effectively and transparently. UMass Dartmouth also enjoys a distinguished tradition of civic engagement and commitment to the SouthCoast region. I look forward to engaging with members of the UMass Dartmouth community and with our partners throughout the region and across the Commonwealth,” Helm added.

Helm said UMass Dartmouth’s recent attainment of Carnegie doctoral-research-university status was “an extremely impressive achievement and indicative of the quality found throughout the university.”

Meehan and Helm both said that UMass Dartmouth’s continued development as a research university was intrinsically important and held great economic significance for the SouthCoast and the state.

Faculty Senate President Doug Roscoe, a professor of political science, said: “I am very impressed with Dr. Helm's leadership abilities. Given his experience as a college president, along with his work in various areas of higher education administration, I am confident he will hit the ground running at UMass Dartmouth. By appointing Dr. Helm as interim Chancellor, I think President Meehan hopes to see our campus move forward and continue to improve.”

“I am impressed with Doctor Helm’s distinguished record of achievement in higher education, his appreciation for UMass Dartmouth’s history and mission, and his recognition of the transformative role higher education plays,” said UMass Dartmouth student trustee Jacob Miller. “I believe we are setting out on an important journey of renewal, and I commend President Meehan for making this appointment and for launching UMass Dartmouth on this new course.” ​

Helm succeeds Divina Grossman, who stepped down as chancellor of UMass Dartmouth last month.

UMass was assisted in the search for an interim chancellor by the Registry of College and University Presidents.

At Muhlenberg, Helm led the college through a major campus expansion, which included construction of a new sports center, science building, residence and dining halls, as well as the expansion and renovation of the student center and performing arts facilities. Helm earned a reputation for being highly visible on campus, being accessible to students, and for developing strong relationships with the business community and with other civic leaders.

Helm earned his undergraduate degree in archaeology from Yale University, graduating Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and a doctorate in ancient history from the University of Pennsylvania. At Muhlenberg, Helm served as a professor of history and taught courses in Homeric Epic and Greek history.

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