Robert Caret to be next UMass president

By Sam Butterfield

According to University of Massachusetts Student Trustee Mike Fox, the UMass Board of Trustees have named Robert L. Caret the next UMass system president.

Caret, 63, is a New England native, hailing from Biddeford, Me. He is presently the twelfth president of Towson University in Towson, Md., and conducted his undergraduate studies at Suffolk University in Boston and his Ph.D. work at the University of New Hampshire.

In May 2003, he was named one of Silicon Valley’s 100 power brokers by San Jose Magazine, and he is also among the founding members of the Maryland Business Council.

The University of Massachusetts Presidential Search Committee named three finalists for president of the UMass system in a Thursday morning meeting in Boston. With the recommendations, the appointment process moves to the Board of Trustees, who will make a final decision.

The three finalists a executive vice president of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Charles R. Bantz Towson University president Robert L. Caret and Phillip L. Clay, the chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In a Thursday afternoon release, chairman of the Search Committee James J. Karam said the committee was excited to bolster the prominence of the three candidates and eager to move on with the selection process.

“The Search Committee is delighted to be advancing the names of three distinguished higher education leaders,” he said. “In doing so, the search committee has fully met its charge, which was to provide the Board of Trustees with a slate of finalist candidates, any one of whom could be an outstanding new leader for the five-campus University of Massachusetts system.”

After the Committee made its recommendations, the names were passed on to the Board of Trustees, which is presently meeting in Boston to deliberate on the selection of the next president.

According to the release, Bantz, the IUPUI chancellor and executive vice president of Indiana University, was previously provost at Wayne State University in Detroit, vice provost at Arizona State University, where he was also chair of Communication. Prior serving as an administrator, Bantz was on the faculty at the University of Minnesota and the University of Colorado. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English education and a master’s in speech communication at Minnesota, and received a Ph.D. in Communication from Ohio State University.

Caret, the president of Towson, a large public university near Baltimore, Maryland, has also been a faculty member, dean, executive vice president and provost at that institution in his 25-plus-year career. He has had administrative experience outside Towson, as well, as he served as president of San Jose State University in California from 1995 to 2003, according to the release. He also has some local roots, as he received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of New Hampshire and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and mathematics from Suffolk University in Boston.

Clay, MIT’s chancellor, has been on the faculty at the Cambridge university since 1975. At MIT, he has also been an associate provost, head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and assistant director of the Joint Center for Urban Studies, operated by both MIT and Harvard. Clay did his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received a Ph.D. in Urban Studies from MIT.

The UMass system has been seeking a successor to current President Jack M. Wilson since he announced his plans to step down last March. Wilson, who has served as President since Sept. 2, 2003, will leave when his term ends on June 30. Following his departure, Wilson has stated that he intends to join the faculty at UMass Lowell.

In the release, Karam praised the Committee for what he called “an open and comprehensive process,” which he said will “ensure that we choose an outstanding new leader for the University of Massachusetts.”

Karam also said he believes the Committee’s work has yielded several distinguished, qualified candidates, and praised their respective accomplishments and views on public higher education.

“This search has culminated in the selection of distinguished finalist candidates who deeply believe in the transformative power of higher education and understand and respect the mission of public higher education,” said Karam, President of Fall River’s First Bristol Corp.

Sam Butterfield can be reached at [email protected]