UMass board has community concerns in mind in attracting key leaders

RE “LAP dogs of luxury’’ by Brian McGrory (Metro, Jan. 13): When University of Massachusetts trustees talk about the need to attract and retain top leaders, it isn’t because they are forgetting Main Street, because Main Street is where they are from. Many of our trustees come from modest backgrounds, worked hard and graduated from UMass, and understand that an affordable, high-quality public university education is the ticket to a better life. But we also recognize that the world has changed and the era of large state subsidies fueling quality and affordability no longer exists.

UMass today receives $30 million less in state funding than it did a decade ago, and general education spending per full-time student at UMass has declined by $2,000 over the past four years. How do we deal with this daunting situation? By attracting and retaining key leaders who can assemble outstanding teams and faculty, increase enrollment, and drive fund-raising - leaders who helped us bring in $550 million last year in research funding and $40 million from faculty discoveries, putting us in a research and innovation league with Harvard and MIT.

This is what we have been able to do and how we have been able to protect quality, thanks to inspired leadership. So, when we talk about the need to attract and retain strong, effective leaders, it is because we have Main Street in mind. We recognize that the sons and daughters of the Commonwealth’s main streets will be shortchanged if UMass does not maintain quality and continue to build pathways to the future.


James J. Karam


UMass board of trustees