Chancellor, UMass Amherst: 1991-1993
Before becoming Chancellor of the University in 1991, Richard O’Brien served as provost for seven years.
Issues of diversity and multiculturalism were pressing during his tenure. He established a Special Opportunity Fund to support the recruitment of minority faculty. Following talks with concerned students, he also recognized efforts to promote intercultural understanding through the establishment of the Chancellor’s Award for Multiculturalism and a Multicultural Advisory Board.
O’Brien is also credited for helping guide the University out of financial difficulties. Recruitment of new faculty increased in his final year. Other landmarks of this period include the opening of the Mullins Center in 1993, and the additions of the Lowell and Dartmouth campuses to the University system.
An authority on toxic chemicals, O’Brien earned his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Western Ontario.