Sherry Penney is dead at 81; longtime UMass Boston leader

Dr. Sherry Penney. Photo courtesy UMass Boston.

Dr. Sherry Penney, who led UMass Boston as its longest-serving chancellor from 1988-2000, died last Friday alongside her 88-year-old husband in what is believed to have been an accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in their Florida home. She was 81.

Dr. Penney was the founder of the Boston campus’s Center for Collaborative Leadership and served as its director until 2012.

The current interim chancellor at UMass Boston‚ Katherine Newman, extended the university’s condolences to her friends and family in a statement:“Chancellor Penney was an extraordinary leader at UMass Boston and a good friend to the institution even though in retirement she lived far away,” said Newman. “She was one of the first people to step forward and ask how she could help me in my new role and never failed to congratulate the campus when good news about its achievements surfaced in the press.

“Her activities in connection with the Center for Collaborative Leadership brought her to Columbia Point on many occasions during my short time here, and it was a pleasure to learn from her. Sherry Penney will be missed greatly. We send our condolences to her relatives and to the family of her devoted husband, Jim Livingston.”

Added Lisa DeAngelis, director of the Center for Collaborative Leadership: “When someone reaches the age of 81 and your first thought is that they were taken far too soon, that is a life well-lived. Sherry was a visionary with the tenacity to enact that vision. She believed that each of us had an obligation to step into our leadership and pushed us to do just that. She will be sorely missed, but the impact of her legacy will be felt for generations to come.”