Is Martha Coakley the Next President of Suffolk University?

The Beacon Hill school is considering the former Attorney General as its next president.
Martha Coakley

Photo via AP

President Martha Coakley? No, not that office of president, but president of Suffolk University.

The Boston Globe and Boston Herald are reporting that the former attorney general is next in line to take the top spot at the politically wired Beacon Hill school. Current Suffolk President Margaret McKenna has had a rocky relationship with the school’s board of trustees since taking the job eight months ago after serving as president of Lesley University. According to reports, the board has the votes to push McKenna out of office.

Suffolk has churned through top-level leadership since longtime president David Sargent was pushed out by the board in 2010 after questions were raised about his level of compensation. McKenna is the school’s fourth president in five years. During Sargent’s time as president, the school transformed from a commuter school into a more traditional university with several new buildings and residence halls, plus a high-profile new law school building on Tremont Street.  Since his departure, the school has sold some of its Beacon Hill buildings while building and opening new ones after acrimonious fights with Beacon Hill residents.

Coakley declined to comment on the recent reports of a possible move to Suffolk. Since leaving the attorney general’s office, Coakley has returned to her alma mater as an adjunct professor at Boston University Law School and worked as outside counsel for DraftKings through Foley Hoag. In 2015, she provided on-camera legal analysis for WCVB during the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Coakley is not the first former statewide officeholder to eye the job of president at Suffolk. In 2014, former Treasurer Steve Grossman was looking at the position, but did not land it when the board whittled down its top two choices to McKenna and Louis E. Caldera, the former University of New Mexico president.

McKenna replaced interim president Norman Smith in May.


Garrett Quinn
Garrett Quinn Garrett Quinn, Boston Magazine bmagdigital+gquinn@gmail.com