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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Boston chapter.

In an email sent out to UMass Boston students Monday, March 6 — which can be found on the UMass Boston website under Chancellor’s Communications — Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco announced the naming of the Residence Halls to honor Dr. J Keith Motley and Angela Motley. Formerly known as the “Residence Halls,” the UMass Boston dorms are now titled The Dr. J. Keith and Angela Motley Residence Halls. 

Former Chancellor J. Keith Motley served as vice chancellor for student affairs starting in 2003 until his appointment as chancellor in 2007. He served as chancellor between 2007 and 2017, and was integral in the development of UMass Boston’s 25-year Campus Master Plan, which was released in December of 2009. The plan itself can be viewed on UMass Boston’s website and discusses a variety of campus revision strategies.

Page 46 of the Campus Master Plan document reads, “…the Master Plan will focus on reconceptualizing space to meet the specific needs of both commuting and resident students,” which was a common goal for many of the suggestions. One specific strategy listed on page 45 entailed “locating and introducing on-campus student housing, which is currently absent.” Therefore, the development of the residence halls is attributed to Dr. Motley, as he was able to both conceptualize the plan and put it into action during his time as chancellor. 

Angela Motley, who is married to Dr. Motley, aided in fundraising efforts for the project and was equally as dedicated to student mentorship and service opportunities as Dr. Motley. It is for their dedication to the housing development project that the Motleys were chosen as namesakes for the UMass Boston residence halls. 

In regards to the naming of the halls, both Dr. and Mrs. Motley expressed great honor for their recognition, as both the residence halls and the University meant a lot to them. Angela Motley told UMass Boston News, “in interacting with thousands of students at events and activities large and small I saw firsthand the transformational power of the university. The residence hall has been a dream of ours realized, and to have it named after us is both deeply humbling and gratifying.”

In the same interview, Dr. Motley said, “UMass Boston is a special university, a diverse and energetic hub for learning and opportunity, and the residence hall has added an important dimension to campus life while helping the university draw students from nearby and all over the globe.”

The naming of the residence halls comes nearly five years after the initial opening of the dorms. As reported on UMass Boston News, construction on the residence halls began in 2016, and the buildings were open for residents in the Fall 2018 semester just 20 months after construction crews initially broke ground. Prior to the naming, the dorm buildings were referred to as the Residence Halls and were differentiated by titles East and West. 

Considering the new dorm name honors two people, and there are two buildings, many students believed each building was to represent one person. Instead of East hall and West hall, the actual buildings could have been “Dr. J. Keith Motley Hall” and “Angela Motley Hall.” This allows for a distinction between the two dorm buildings that would simultaneously honor Dr. and Mrs. Motley individually. However, there is no distinction between the buildings with the new name put in place.

“I like that they gave them names because East and West hall is pretty boring,” said UMass Boston freshman Georgia Berry. “When they first sent out that email about naming the residence halls, I thought they were going to be given separate names, so I was excited to finally have something to easily differentiate them by other than just East and West. But then they just named them the exact same thing, so it’s still boring.” 

A ceremony was held at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 28 for the building dedication ceremony. This event officially recognized the naming of the dorms and unveiled the name plaque installed on the East residence hall.

Originally published May 4, 2023

Update; August 28, 2023:

Due to UMass Boston’s revamp of their website, many of the links used in this article are no longer accessible. We are working on finding archival replacements and/or sources with similar information on other sites. Our apologies!!

Riley Hammond

U Mass Boston '25

Riley is a junior at UMass Boston, currently pursuing a degree in psychology (BS). She hopes to enter the field of psychological research, with interest in clinical psychology, stigma, and the influences of culture and identity on different aspects of psychology. Her overall career goal is to help others and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health diagnoses and therapy in general. When she isn't working or studying, you can find her at the gym, scrapbooking, or