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Jack Wilson to join UMass Lowell faculty

University of Massachusetts President Jack Wilson recently announced he’ll be taking on a new position at the University of Massachusetts Lowell as a senior faculty member once his eight-year term as president ceases at the end of June.

Wilson, 65, will serve in a new role at UMass Lowell as the University Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, Emerging Technologies and Innovation, a position that makes Wilson part of the University’s College of Management faculty.

A release detailing Wilson’s decision to take on this role stated Wilson “intends to teach, advise and mentor students at UMass Lowell and will also write about such issues as innovation and higher education.”

Additionally, Wilson himself stated in the release his plans to develop and oversee projects with students at UMass Boston and his intention to be readily available to help the next UM system president adjust to his new role.

In the release, UMass Lowell Provost Ahmed Abdelal said his school is eager to welcome the outgoing president to campus.

“We are looking forward to welcoming Jack Wilson as a member of UMass Lowell’s faculty,” said Abdelal, the former Provost at Northeastern University in Boston. “He brings unique experience to our campus not only from his years as President of the UMass system, but also from his success in research and business development.”

Wilson’s biography on the UMass website explains he has “led UMass since September 2, 2003,” and  “during his career, [he] has held positions as professor of physics, department chair, research center director, dean, vice president, provost, and a private sector entrepreneur.” Wilson had been working at UMass since 2001, when he worked as the founder and CEO of UMassOnline, the system’s acclaimed distance-education program, stated the release.

“Throughout the course of my career, I have been fortunate enough to hold teaching and leadership positions at major universities, I have been able to start a company and have served on an array of state and national boards and commissions,” said Wilson in the release.

“A common thread running through all of this work is my interest in research and discovery and in the way technological innovation touches lives and drives our economy,” continued Wilson. “This new academic position will allow me to share this passion with students and to continue to advance my view that research universities are critical engines for economic growth.”

Wilson currently is a member of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s Board of Directors and serves as Chairman of the Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity of the national Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Attempts to contact UMass Lowell Chancellor Martin Meehan were unsuccessful, however, the Boston Globe reported that Meehan said in a phone interview that “ we believe Jack’s extensive academic and business experience will help our university grow. He brings a wealth of experience in leadership in technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and all of these areas are central to our campus.’’

Wilson announced last March he would be stepping down as President of the five-campus system on June 30, 2011, and a committee to find his replacement completed its national search earlier this month. The committee named Robert L. Caret the next UMass system president.

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at acreamer@student.umass.edu.

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