Sunday, November 4, 2012

UMass to Celebrate 150 Years and President Caret's Great OpEd on Its Mission

One needs to write and to communicate by speaking out.

As a professor and educator, I try to do my part by writing journal articles, books, and even OpEd pieces to reach a broader audience.

I also blog because many students and colleagues urged me to do so over three years ago.

And when the opportunity presents itself, and,  I am available, I enjoy talking with the media.

It is important to recognize what is going well, what needs improvement, and to celebrate when there are achievements and to propose solutions and take actions, where and when these are needed.

Books, as we know, can change the world, and will live longer than any of us -- the same holds for great discoveries and works of art and music.

Dr. Robert Caret, the relatively new President of the UMass system, wrote a wonderful OpEd,

 Viewpoint: UMass remains on mission 150 years later,  in which he states: Here in Massachusetts, the passage of the Morrill Land Grant Act led to the founding of the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863. The college, established on the principle that science and research could be used to improve the overall quality of life, was built around a curriculum of farming, science, technical courses and liberal arts.
Robert Caret 91812.jpg Robert L. Caret (
What would become the University of Massachusetts has grown, but its original mission of transformation remains unchanged.

He goes on to note some of our recent successes, 150 years after,  with the Permaculture Garden, which was recognized even by President Obama,  to our Green High-Performance Computing Center.

He also  emphasized accessibility and affordability and, given the international competition of college admissions today and the student debt crisis, I could not agree more!

President Caret has traveled on a bus throughout our state of Massachusetts, meeting with many stakeholders.

Recently, I was interviewed by our new Vice Chancellor for University Relations, John Kennedy, about my experiences as a UMass Amherst chaired professor, the John F. Smith Memorial Professor. The videographers traveled from Boston for the videotaping and one of them was a UMass Amherst grad.  I must admit, though, that I thought it  rather funny when one of them kept on powdering my face, which I had never had happen in either TV shoots or other videotaping sessions. I guess that day I glowed too much (or was it because I had just flown back from Sweden 2 days prior where I had spent a month as part of my sabbatical). I was excited to talk about UMass Amherst and my experiences. I spoke about how many multiple generations of UMass graduates there are and how many of my students tell me that they were happiest when they were students at UMass Amherst -- and, amongst these I include, several top-level executives.

Of course, I also talked about what makes the Isenberg School of Management great.

I also noted Jack Smith, a former CEO of General Motors, who had endowed the chaired professorship that I hold in honor of his father who was also a UMass Amherst alum, from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Jack Smith Jr. had received a degree in Operations Management from my business school and is an outstanding example of the difference that UMass Amherst grads have made in the corporate arena.

Thank you, President Caret,  for speaking out about the heritage of UMass, which is alive today, and noting that: One hundred fifty years ago, during the darkest days of the Civil War, a single piece of legislation forever changed the landscape of higher education in the United States. Introduced by Vermont Congressman Justin Smith Morrill, it sought to create a national system of public higher education to ensure that a college degree would be available to many and not just be the province of a few.

Here in Massachusetts, the passage of the Morrill Land Grant Act led to the founding of the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863. 

And, indeed,  science and research should be used and is being used to improve the overall quality of life!