UMass Officials Hope To Pick New President Thursday

By Andrea Smardon

Jan 13, 2011

An aerial view of the campus center at UMass-Amherst. (via Wikimedia)

BOSTON — Officials at the University of Massachusetts are optimistic that they'll select a new president by the end of the day Thursday.

A search committee is conducted a second round of interviews Thursday morning. The board of trustees will then interview the finalists Thursday afternoon.
Search committee chair James Karam says the committee has found several strong candidates. Karam would not name them,  but he says all hail from traditional academic backgrounds.

Outgoing UMass President Jack Wilson, in his office. (Andrea Smardon/WGBH)

The search committee wants to make sure whoever they choose can deal with the financial crisis facing the university, which gets some of its funding from the state budget -- which currently has a $2 billion gap.
"The immediate task for a new president is, 'How do I get through the next 2 or 3 years which unfortunately  may see some financial funding cuts from the state, and maintain quality and accessibility?'" Karam said.
The state provided 40 percent of the five-campus university’s operating budget a decade ago.  Now, Karam says, it’s under 20 percent. 

Outgoing president Jack Wilson, who is not formally involved in the search, says the new president will have to get creative.
"The thing that really made the difference for me was thinking entrepreneurially.  I guarantee you that a president of any public university today has an exciting job with inadequate resources," Wilson said. "So I would say look for someone that is willing to be an entrepreneur, and willing to lead an organization that doesn’t have the resource, but has high aspirations."
The search committee is expected to release its list of finalists Thursday afternoon. UMass has so far declined to to name their candidates, but has not denied speculation that Phillip Clay and Towson University President Rober Caret are up for the job.

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