Search begins for new UMass president

By Marie MacCune

Photo by Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Photo by Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

The search process for the next president of the University of Massachusetts system is in its beginning stages, with plans to be completed before the resignation of current president Robert Caret in July.

President Caret announced his resignation in December to become chancellor of the University System of Maryland. He has held his position at UMass since 2011.

A press release from the University cited the many accomplishments of Caret’s tenure, including the opening of the first UMass system center in Springfield, instituting an Efficiency and Effectiveness program, the American Bar Association’s provisional accreditation of the Commonwealth’s only public law school at UMass Dartmouth and rising rankings both nationally and internationally.

Before his time at UMass, Caret served as the president of Towson University, part of the University System of Maryland, for eight years.

In a statement released by USM, Board of Regents Chair James Shea said, “The Board of Regents is very pleased that Bob Caret will take the helm as USM’s fourth chancellor. He brings years of experience as the outstanding leader of two public universities and a public system of higher education. He is adept at building partnerships that benefit institutions and the surrounding communities.”

Rick Berndt, chair of the search-and-screening committee for USM said in a news conference held in Baltimore that Caret’s appointment is a result of his “dynamic and effective” methods as well as his successes in “advanc(ing) diversity and inclusion.”

During that same news conference, Caret called the search and vetting process challenging.

He said, “It’s an emotional experience, especially as a president. You become attached to your campuses, it is a very personal endeavor. … You feel like you’re abandoning children when you leave, so you want to do it in the most positive way for everyone.”

He continued, saying that his move to the USM has both professional and personal motivations.

“Twenty-nine years of my professional career I spent with the University System of Maryland,” Caret said.

He added that he was looking forward to being able to spend more time with his only grandchild and other members of his extended family in Maryland.

According to UMass spokesperson Robert Connolly, the Board of Trustees is in the process of “doing outreach to potential candidates” to replace Caret.

He added that the Universities are also in the process of “developing a search committee that will consist of alumni, faculty, students, community leaders, and so on.”

Connolly predicted committee members would be finalized by the beginning of February.

Sarah Freudson, student trustee from the Amherst campus, said of Caret’s resignation: “President Caret’s announcement … was something I was in support of. He loves UMass, it became his home but I understand why he had chosen to resign. Being back in Maryland with his family is honorable and I am extremely happy for him.”

In terms of what she is looking for in potential candidates to replace Caret, she said, “I personally hope we can find a candidate who makes UMass his home as President Caret had. Someone who is dedicated to the wellbeing of the students and strives for success in all matters pertaining to running such a large university system.”

“But not only that,” Freudson continued, “I hope we can find a candidate who has the passion to bring UMass to the next level. UMass is the best and we deserve the best candidate who can bring our culture to the next level, unifying in creating school spirit for students and spectacular futures for our alumni.”

Marie MacCune can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MarieMacCune.