Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

New UMass president speaks to reporters on campus

Robert Caret, the newly-appointed president of the University of Massachusetts, emphasized to the press yesterday his vision to have the school be rated as a top-ranking public institution.

Matt Modica/Collegian
Matt Modica/Collegian

He declared that his motivation for UMass is to have the state’s flagship school fall into the rankings as one of the top 25 public research schools in the nation instead of falling into the rankings as a top 50 institution.

Caret – who was previously the president of Towson University in Maryland and San Jose State University in California –  told reporters during a media gathering on campus yesterday that his move to UMass has been the “best transition out of all of them.” He said he has been on the Amherst campus four times and called it friendly and said it is widely appreciated by current students and alumni alike.

He began the meeting with reporters by noting of his hope to improve student retention as well as graduation, economic development, research and social well-being at the school.

He also talked about what qualities he thinks an ideal person to replace current Chancellor Robert Holub – who is leaving the University by next July – should possess. He said the next leader of the campus should have the ability to lead the school into the right territory to achieve the goal of being among the top public institutions and should also be committed to serving at least a three- or five-year term as chancellor.

Caret – who officially assumed his role July 1 – also noted that he has “a great relationship” with Holub and will treat him as if he were staying at the University permanently during the upcoming transition period.

“We don’t intend to let this campus slide or go stagnant,” Caret said of the transition from one chancellor to the next.

He said some donors of the school were upset by the shift in chancellor and added that they won’t donate to the University if they feel it is piloted by someone they don’t trust. But “institutions go beyond people,” he said, noting that he  hopes  most donors won’t hold out for too long on donations.

Caret said an expected time frame for the search for the next chancellor will be established between now and Oct. 19. He noted that officials expect to be receiving applications for the position in early fall and will begin to set up interviews around early January.

During yesterday’s meeting with the press, Caret also focused on the state’s minimized funding for UMass and talked about how the school pays for 80 percent of the construction on campus, whereas at other schools, he said, such and investment is not possible without state funding.

Financially, Caret said, that other than tuition and fees, the lack of state appropriation is difficult to compensate for at the University.  He said scant state funding is manageable in the short-term, but noted that the budget needs to expand to where it used to be in the long-term or the school will face consequences, such as loss of buildings and faculty.

One reporter asked Caret at yesterday’s meeting what he planned to do about the increasing “sense of privatization” of the University. Caret then introduced what he called a three-prong approach to that, which involved getting support for the capital budget, instilling an approach to motivate the state to sustain UMass as a top university and “creat[ing] champions” within the Legislature to live up to the standard of competing states’ tuition rates as well as financial aid.

Caret said he recently met with legislators about the University and received good feedback.

“If you want a healthy society you need education, to keep it affordable and we’ll keep fighting for that,” Caret noted.

He also said that he supports the football team rising to the Football Bowl Subdivision. He said “there are very few exceptions” of top-ranked schools that are not also in the FBS.

He was optimistic about a fan base shift from the campus to Gillette Stadium, but said the responsibility ultimately lies on the team’s success.

“We’ll see good crowds in the beginning,” he said. “If they don’t win, they’ll dwindle.”

Another reporter asked what Caret plans to do about the high volume of arrests and violence occurring among students and alluded in a question to a recent off campus stabbing incident. Caret replied that he promotes educating students on how to live in a safer environment.

He also spoke about the alcohol policies and issues on campus and said “most college students drink more than we would like them to and it’s all part of the experience.”

“To assume prohibition is going to occur is naïve,” added Caret, who referenced peer leadership initiatives put in place at Towson University, which involved having some students receive small salaries to serve as ambassadors between students and residents of the area. “All you can do is educate and mitigate.”

Nancy Pierce can be reached at [email protected].


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