Dr. Jack Wilson named president of UMass

Dr. Jack Wilson named president of UMass

The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees named Dr. Jack M. Wilson to be president of the 60,000-student, five-campus university system. Dr. Wilson, a nationally recognized higher education innovator, served the last seven months as interim president of the University.

"This opportunity exists for me as an individual, for the University, and for the Commonwealth only because so many giants have shaped this great enterprise over the last century and a half," Dr. Wilson said. "Chancellors and presidents, governors and legislators, faculty members, staff people and alumni have had one thing in common, a love of the idea of this University and a dedication to the cause of public higher education. Because of them we are able to look forward with optimism that our university will successfully confront every challenge, continue its academic ascendance, and continue to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth through excellent teaching and discovery."

"Over the past seven months, Jack Wilson has led the University of Massachusetts with wisdom and distinction. I firmly believe that Jack Wilson has the experience, the energy, the intellect and the passion to be an outstanding president," said Board of Trustees Chairwoman Grace K. Fey. "Jack Wilson has staked his claim to the UMass presidency the old-fashioned way - he has earned it. When I look at Jack Wilson's experience as an educator, a researcher, an administrator and an entrepreneur, I believe that we have found someone who brings an exceptional set of skills to the UMass presidency."

The 22-member Board of Trustees voted to appoint Wilson president on the recommendation of a distinguished 24-member Presidential Search Committee that included trustees, alumni, faculty, students, and leaders from the business and civic communities. The Search Committee was chaired by Dennis Austin, a trustee, alumnus, and Raytheon Corporation Executive; and Diane Bissonnette Moes, a trustee, alumna and attorney with Donoghue, Barrett and Singal.

Wilson was named interim president in September, 2004. He had been serving as the Vice President for Academic Affairs of the system and as CEO of UMassOnline, which he built into one of the most successful online programs in the United States with 39 graduate and undergraduate degree and certificate programs now serving 14,000 enrollees. He is also a tenured Professor of Management at UMass Amherst.

During Dr. Wilson's tenure as interim president, the University made advancements in several areas, including:

  • Restoration strong working relationship between the UMass Office of the President and Governor's office while maintaining strong relationship with Legislature.
  • Working with Legislators, Chancellors and unions to end pay raise impasse after UMass faculty and staff had gone three years without a raise due to unfunded contracts. This required a special appropriation of $26 million.
  • Secured $10 million in mid-year supplemental state appropriations from the Legislature to ease severe budget cuts.
  • Secured FY04 support of Legislature for UMass Amherst's Commonwealth College, UMass Dartmouth's College of Visual and Performing Arts (Star Store). Secured doubling of Commonwealth College funding in FY05 Governor's budget.
  • Secured $12 million increase in capital funding through the Executive Office of Administration and Finance for critical facility upgrades this year.

Also, based on his experience as provost and research center leader at RPI in upstate New York and as a high-tech entrepreneur, Dr. Wilson became a leading advocate for the Economic Stimulus bill passed by the Legislature. The legislation, which also received support from the governor, includes several provisions that will support the UMass research enterprise.

Dr. Wilson was also appointed as core steering committee member of the Science and Technology Caucus, a blue ribbon committee of business, government and academic leaders that is developing a comprehensive plan to develop the Massachusetts innovation economy, and has been a leading member and advocate of MassInsight's effort to design a science and technology road map for Massachusetts.

Dr. Wilson established the President's Science and Technology Advisory Group of leading technology executives from around Massachusetts. This group will advise the UMass president on how University can collaborate with the high-tech industry to develop the innovation economy. He also created $1 million science and technology fund to assist the University's five campuses in developing strategic alliances to pursue major new external funding opportunities.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wilson began an organization streamlining process that consolidated certain central services, including information technology, and is identifying new opportunities for streamlining. He also began a restructuring of the University of Massachusetts Building Authority under new leadership.

Dr. Wilson also advanced the effort to establish Center for the Study of the Senate in the name of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at UMass-Boston.
Prior to joining UMass, Dr Wilson was the J. Erik Jonsson '22 Distinguished Professor of Physics, Engineering Science, Information Technology, and Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he had also served as a Dean and interim Provost.

Date: 03/24/04