Robert L. Caret, PhD, formally took office as 26th president of the University of Massachusetts on Tuesday, Nov. 1, saying that UMass changes thousands of lives every year and is a major force for progress in the commonwealth.
“My own life vividly illustrates the transformative power of education . . . In a single generation, you see the son of a man who was never able to go beyond the eighth grade because of his family’s dire economic needs have the chance to serve as president of three major universities. That is because I was able to make the most of the educational opportunities that were presented to me,” President Caret said as he was inaugurated in a ceremony held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
Caret added: “I have worked all of my life in public higher education because I want to make those same opportunities available to all those kids who, right now in North Adams or Fall River or Dorchester or Worcester or Lowell, are dreaming big. Let’s help make those dreams come true.”
About 400 people, including 100 college and university representatives from across the country, attended the ceremony, which was funded by private donations. Among those in attendance for the ceremony were elected leaders from across the state, including Gov. Deval Patrick, Lt. Gov. Timothy J. Murray, Treasurer Steven Grossman and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, a graduate of UMass Boston.
“President Caret understands the role the University plays in our commonwealth’s intellectual and economic success. Today, we celebrate his new leadership and sharpened vision for the UMass community,” said Gov. Patrick.
Serving as chief marshal for the inauguration was Craig C. Mello, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and distinguished professor of molecular medicine and cell biology and the 2006 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
In his inaugural address, Caret, who took office on July 1 but was inaugurated today, unveiled a series of ambitious goals for the University system and called upon members of the University community to think boldly and challenge limitations.
“Together, let’s dream big. Let’s shape the future of Massachusetts and beyond,” said Caret. “Together, we can create a $1 billion endowment that will allow so many students for so many years to dream so big. I want sponsored research to reach $750 million over the next decade . . . and we can win another Nobel Prize. We can do this. We are that good.”
Prior to assuming the presidency of UMass, Caret was the president of Towson University in Maryland. He served as a faculty member, dean, executive vice president and provost of Towson University for 21 years before leaving to assume the presidency of San Jose State University in 1995. He returned to Towson in 2003 and served as president there until this year. A native of Maine, Caret received his bachelor of science degree in chemistry and mathematics from Suffolk University in 1969 and his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of New Hampshire in 1974. His honorary degrees include doctor of humane letters from San Jose State University (2004) and National Hispanic University (1997) and a doctor of science degree from Suffolk University (1996).
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