Tony Maroulis, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and co-director of the Hampshire Country Regional Tourism Council, has been named the new director of community relations at the University of Massachusetts, effective March 3.
Maroulis is no stranger to holding community-oriented leadership positions. His longtime involvement in the Pioneer Valley has allowed him to build relationships with local businesses, as well as with civic and political leaders in the area. He hopes to utilize these various connections to further strengthen the bond between campus and community.
“Our main goal here at community relations is to really integrate the UMass community into the broader Amherst community,” Maroulis said. “This can be challenging, as the nature of a student is a transient one. We want you to graduate in four years, but in those four years we want to emphasize that you are a member of this community, and you should never feel like your UMass experience is limited to the campus.”
Maroulis praised programs and events that are already in place to help accomplish this goal of integration. Among these are the UMass Homecoming Parade, which marches through Amherst Center, the Amherst Block Party and the “Adventure into Amherst” orientation program, which is a scavenger hunt to help incoming freshmen explore Amherst. Last year, there were over 1,000 students in attendance.
Maroulis hopes that such events and programs will continue to push students to partake in local tourism.
Maroulis also spoke of the possibility of further expanding student-run businesses into Amherst.
“Students have a certain dynamism and energy that comes only with youth and new opportunity,” Maroulis said. “Further student involvement in Amherst Center, in both pre-existing businesses and expanding student-run businesses, is something that I feel could be mutually beneficial for both the town and the students.”
One of the first items on Maroulis’ agenda will be to work on community relations around the Blarney Blowout, a pre-St. Patrick’s Day promotion by downtown bars that has spurred excessive public drinking and disruptive behavior by UMass students in past years.
Maroulis said the “party school” reputation is something the administration has been trying hard to shed, and his involvement in the University’s Campus Coalition to End High-Risk Drinking is part of his commitment to this goal.
Maroulis’ new ideas and positive outlook come accompanied with a substantial track record. Since being named executive director of Amherst area Chamber of Commerce in 2008, Maroulis has helped to make the Chamber a leader in Pioneer Valley economic development and local tourism expansion. He helped to start the Amherst Business Improvement District, and was a founding member of the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council.
A Rutgers University alumnus, Maroulis’ career has reflected a longtime enthusiasm for the arts. He worked for the world-renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from 1997-2000 and owned and directed Wünderarts, a commercial art gallery in Amherst. Other art-related positions held include project coordinator at Museums10 from 2006-2008 and development and marketing coordinator for the Emily Dickinson Museum from 2004-2007.
Josh Darling can be reached at [email protected]