Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Caret set to tour area today

By Katie Landeck

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Justin Surgent/Collegian

University of Massachusetts President Robert Caret is set to visit the Pioneer Valley today as part of his second bus tour across the Commonwealth.

The 500-mile, four day bus tour aims to promote the upcoming 150th anniversary of UMass – which was founded by the signing of the Morrill Land Grant in 1863 – by highlighting UMass’ impact on the state since its inception.

“The tour is really to begin to call attention to the 150th anniversary,” said Robert Connolly, spokesperson for the UMass President’s Office. “It gives the president an opportunity to speak about the University in a larger sense and more reflective way.”

This year’s tour will emphasize the contribution UMass has made to the state through fostering academic achievement, entrepreneurship, research and economic development, according to a UMass press release. The trip will focus on contributions in the fields of science, technology, health care, financial services and innovation.

“It’s a great opportunity to talk about how important UMass is to the state,” said Connolly, who noted that people sometimes take the University’s contributions for granted.

He said that of all of the college degrees awarded in the state annually, 15 percent come from the UMass system.

During the tour, Caret plans to visit alumni start-ups, business incubators and UMass research centers.

“We looked for locations and events that reflected original ideas,” Connolly said.

The trip will begin in western Massachusetts, and then continue to the North Shore. Caret will then head out to Cape Cod and the South Coast. And he’ll end the trip in the central part of the state.

This morning, Caret will have breakfast with Frederick Hurst and UMass alumnus Marjorie Hurst, according to his trip itinerary. Frederick Hurst serves as the publisher of the African-American Point of View newspaper, while Marjorie Hurst serves as the paper’s editor.

After breakfast, Caret will then tour the Big Y Corporate Offices in Springfield, before having lunch at Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke.

At 2 p.m., Caret will tour the Joe Czajkowski’s Farm in Hadley and meet with UMass agricultural students there, according to the itinerary. He will then end the day by attending the UMass Lowell Senatorial Debate.

Over the next three days of the tour, Caret will meet with Massachusetts policy makers to talk about issues like college affordability and visit places such as UMass Gloucester Marine Research Station and the UMass Cranberry Station in Wareham, according to the itinerary.

This is Caret’s second bus tour across the state. A few months after taking office in July 2011, Caret launched the first bus tour to meet with business and community leaders and seek their input on how UMass could improve. Last year’s tour started in Berkshire County, a region this year’s tour will not make it to. Caret made 24 stops on the previous tour, which iscompared to the 19 he intends to make this year.

“Last year was fundamentally a listening tour. Caret had only been in office three months so he wanted to talk to people from important constituent groups,” said Connolly. “This is a little more of a talking tour. He really wants to talk about what UMass has done.”

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected]

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