Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Caret makes stop in Hadley as part of state bus tour

By Katie Landeck

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Katie Landeck/Collegian

During a stop in Hadley at Joe Czajkowski Farm as part of a four-day, 500-mile bus tour, University of Massachusetts President Robert Caret talked with local and state officials about the importance of supporting higher education.

“We want to provide high quality and affordable education, not just affordable education,” Caret said in a brief address at the one-hour long event.

Hosted in a corner of  Czajkowski’s strawberry patch, approximately 40 people – including state senators, state representatives, students and Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy – attended the hour-long meet-and-greet event.

Attendees were left to mingle with each other during the event. But in three spontaneous speeches given by Caret, Subbaswamy and Chair of the UMass Board of Trustees Henry Thomas, each spoke of the importance of the University.

“We want to make ourselves indispensable, so legislators see that it is a mistake to not support us,” Thomas said.

Caret said he believes that the bus tour will help policy makers to see the importance of UMass as an institution and help encourage them to support the system financially.

“You get the message out incrementally,” Caret said. “That’s how you change public policy.”

He noted that he had already talked to many politicians and reporters during his trip, and planned to meet with others including Senate President Therese Murray, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Education Secretary Paul Reville.

Caret also emphasized the upcoming 150th anniversary of the University, which was created as a land-grant university in 1863 by the signing of Morrill Land Grant Act.

The rustic setting of the event was chosen to emphasize UMass’s roots as a land-grant school and to reiterate the connection between the University and the surrounding agricultural community, according to Caret.

“That link – between agriculture and the school – is still there,” Caret said.

At the event, seasonal dishes –such as pumpkin spice bread, strawberry soups and apple cider – were served, with the majority of the produce coming from Czajkowski’s field. Czajkowski’s farm also sells produce to UMass dining services throughout the year.

“UMass has been good to farmers in the valley,” Czajkowski said. “If they want to use the corner of a field for a party, that’s fine by me.”

Caret left the event in a green premier bus sporting the UMass logo on its side promptly at 3 p.m. to travel to Lowell for the senate debates.

Earlier in the day, Caret had breakfast with Frederick Hurst and Marjorie Hurst, the publisher and editor of “African American Point of View,” a bi-monthly magazine started in 2003. He also toured the Big Y Corporate Offices in Springfield and had lunch at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke.

During the next three days of his trip, Caret plans to visit research centers, business incubators and alumni startups, including Gloucester Marine Station and the UMass Cranberry bog.

Last year was the first time that Caret toured the state, traveling 400 miles in four days. Taking place only a few months after he took office, he used the tour as a way to introduce himself to the community and hear feedback.

“Out in places like Greenfield, I had so many people say to me ‘I have never seen a UMass president before,” Caret said. “I find that people get excited that you bother to come out and talk to them.”

He joked the next year he might try to travel 600 miles.

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected]

 

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