“It is a big job, the stakes are very high, and the members of [the UMass Presidential Search Committee] should be very proud of the work we have done and of the names we have put forward," Robert Manning, chairman of the 21-member committee, said in a statement. "We are advancing outstanding candidates eminently capable of leading the institution that will guide Massachusetts into the future."
Out of a pool of 700 prospective candidates, a search firm contacted 80 and the group was narrowed down to 20 candidates, Manning told State House News Service.
The UMass statement added: "The selection of the finalists sets the stage for the possible election of a new UMass system president when the University’s Board of Trustees meets tomorrow in Boston."
A former Massachusetts congressman, finalist Meehan has led UMass Lowell — his alma mater — since 2007.
Quelch, the other finalist, was born in London and also served as chairman of Massport for eight years.
Meehan has long been viewed as potential successor to Caret, who steps down on June 30 to become chancellor of the University of Maryland.
Both Quelch and Meehan have committed to stay in as president of the five-campus system for 10 years if selected, Manning told reporters.
Caret surprised the UMass community when he took the position in Maryland. He has served as UMass' leader since 2011.
The UMass search committee was formed on Feb. 6, and it consisted of faculty members, three students, community and business leaders and members of the UMass Board of Trustees.
With reporting by the WBUR Newsroom and State House News Service
This article was originally published on April 30, 2015.