UMass President: University an Efficient Provider of Education

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Nov 16, 2012 2:18:00 PM

The University of Massachusetts remains the most cost-effective producer of the educated work force needed to sustain the Bay State economy, UMass President Robert Caret said this morning.

CaretCaret told a crowd of business leaders at the AIM Executive Forum that the UMass system educates students at an annual cost of $23,000, versus $40,000 at private institutions within the commonwealth.  He said that 83 percent of the 15,000 or so students who graduate from UMass each year remain in the commonwealth to form a critical piece of the economy.

“You can’t become a whole lot more efficient than that,” said Caret, who took the top job at UMass in January 2011 after serving as president of Towson University in Maryland.

The president affirmed the university’s commitment to working with employers to promote research, development and commercialization of technologies that create jobs. He said the university has already created successful nanotechnology centers, is a partner in the new High Performance Green Technology Center in Holyoke, and expects to create additional initiatives in biotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

AIM and other business organizations this year supported a federal grant application made by UMass and several other states to be designated as one of 15 national Institutes of Advance Manufacturing. The initial application was unsuccessful, but Caret said UMass and its partners are confident of winning a grant in subsequent reviews.

Caret asked business leaders to support increased state funding for UMass, which he said has plummeted from 80 percent to 43 percent of the university budget. He pledged to freeze tuition levels for two years of the state were to raise its share of the budget to 50 percent.

“Only you can help us do that. Try to get your voice out there if you believe in public education,” he said.

Public institutions that once educated 25 percent of people who attended college now teach 70 percent of those students, Caret said, meaning that UMass has an important role to play that compliments the work of the many world-renowned private schools in the region.

Topics: Business Center, Education, University of Massachusetts

Massachusetts Takes Remarkable Look at Public Higher Education

Posted by Andre Mayer on Nov 7, 2012 2:45:00 PM

In 2010 Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland proposed, and the Board of Higher Education embraced, the Vision Project, a strategic plan to move our state’s public higher education system to a position of national leadership.

EducationTo achieve this goal – an ambitious one for a system long in the shadow of independent institutions locally and of public peers nationally – the plan calls for addressing seven key outcomes: college participation (percentage of high school graduates attending college), degree completion,  student learning (measured by assessments), workforce alignment (meeting employers’ needs), preparing citizens, closing achievement gaps (among students of various backgrounds), and research (that drives economic development).

“Time to Lead: The Need for Excellence in Public Higher Education,” the first substantial report on the Vision Project, establishes a baseline comparison of the Massachusetts system with the rest of the nation, and lays out goals and strategies to move towards national leadership. This is a remarkable document in two respects. First, it is honest. For 12 key metrics assessing current status on the seven outcomes, it asks, “Is Massachusetts a national leader?  - and answers with three “yeses” and nine “nos.” (The leading states are identified.)

Second, it is realistic about the breadth of change that will be required to attain leadership, and about the complexity of the various steps, some of which involve coordination not only within the system but also beyond it, with the public schools, employers, and others.

The effectiveness of our public system of higher education, measured by the number and quality of degrees conferred as well as by research activity, is a critical issue for Massachusetts employers. They need educated people: by 2018, 70 percent of jobs in Massachusetts will require some college, compared to 63 percent nationally. In fact, the future of our key industries depends upon having the world’s best-educated workforce. At a time when the enormous expansion of postsecondary education worldwide has flooded the global labor market with mediocre degrees, high-quality education is increasingly at a premium.

Those well-educated graduates must come, largely, from our public colleges and universities. In sharp contrast to a generation ago, two-thirds of Massachusetts high school graduates who go to college in-state are now in the public system.  (That system educates most African-American and Latino students in the state, and the great majority of older undergraduates.) Nine out f ten graduates of the public system remain in Massachusetts after graduation.

This month, AIM offers its members two opportunities to learn about the progress of public higher education, its aspirations and the challenges it faces.  On November 16, Robert Caret, President of the University of Massachusetts, will speak on “UMass and its Impact on the Innovation Economy” at an AIM Executive Forum in Waltham. On November 27,

Commissioner Richard Freeland will meet with AIM’s Public Affairs Council at our Boston offices to discuss the Vision Project and the “Time to Lead” report (call Julie Fazio or Brian Gilmore at 617-262-1180).

Topics: Business Center, Education, University of Massachusetts

UMass President Learned Early to Connect Education, Economic Growth

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Nov 2, 2012 1:09:00 PM

Robert Caret, President of the University of Massachusetts, learned the close connection between education and economic growth while growing up in Biddeford, Maine.

It's a lesson he has retained throughout a distinguished academic career known for establishing close ties between universities and business. Caret will speak at the AIM Executive Forum November 16 in Waltham.

Register for the Executive Forum with Robert Caret

Topics: Business Center, University of Massachusetts, AIM Executive Forum

Outgoing UMass President Sees Growing Collaboration with Business

Posted by Andre Mayer on Apr 28, 2011 11:54:00 AM

The outgoing president of the University of Massachusetts sees accelerated growth ahead for the $2.8 billion educational institution that now accounts for 90 percent of academic research outside of Route 128.

Wilson.JackJack Wilson will step down as president this spring after an eight-year tenure that has seen enrollment at the five UMass campuses rise 19 percent to 68,000 and degrees and certificates awarded rise 29 percent. UMass ranks in the top 15 nationally in intellectual property income, and is a global leader in online education with 48,500 enrollees and revenues of $59 million last year.

 In 2010, endowment and research expenditures both topped $500 million for the first time.

Wilson reflected on the UMass system’s progress, current initiatives and challenges in an informal discussion with AIM’s Public Affairs Council on April 12. He leaves an institution that generates 81 percent of its own revenues and ranks among the state’s top 10 employers

Wilson places particular stress on the growing cooperation among the state’s research universities.  The prime example is the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center under development in Holyoke, in which UMass partners with MIT, Harvard, Boston University, Northeastern University, Cisco and EMC – all AIM members – with Holyoke Gas & Electric (also a member) and the Commonwealth taking important roles.

Looking ahead, Wilson foresees UMass intensifying its role as a producer of talent and innovation. This will involve strategic investment in infrastructure – $2.5 billion over the next five years, largely self-financed; continued growth of enrollment, in state and out-of-state; enhanced  commercialization and entrepreneurship activities (which will be his own focus); and more collaborations within the system, with other universities and with industry.

For the future, Wilson emphasized the desirability of stronger technology/manufacturing representation on the UMass board. He called for greater autonomy and regulatory relief in such areas as construction management, tuition retention, and collective bargaining, and for renewal of state matching grants to help secure major external funding. Federal programs like the America Competes Act and priorities set forth by President Obama present important opportunities for UMass, he said.

Wilson noted that while the background he brought to the UMass presidency was in research-intensive universities, his successor, Robert Caret, has a strong record of advancing student success and diversity as the leader of two less research-oriented institutions.  AIM is pleased that Caret, like Wilson, also brings a long history of close involvement with the business community; he was a founding member of the Maryland Business Council and was named to the Baltimore County Chamber Business Hall of Fame.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Education, University of Massachusetts

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