BOSTON The University of Massachusetts is inaugurating its new president Tuesday afternoon in Boston.
Robert Caret took over the five-campus system in July following the retirement of outgoing UMass President Jack Wilson. On Tuesday he will be formally sworn in to the job.
Early in October, Caret embarked on a statewide bus tour spending five days traveling Massachusetts, making stops and meeting with people.
“I wanted to get firsthand information from business and government leaders on what UMass was doing for them, and more importantly, what UMass could do in terms of improving what its doing for them,” Caret said during Morning Edition.
Caret said that business leaders were asking for “more” of what UMass already provided, but he noted that the current budget situation made things difficult.
Massachusetts has made deeper cuts to state colleges and universities than any other state in the nation. As a result, UMass has cut way back on tenured professorships and this year raised student fees by another 7.5 percent.
“We’ve dug ourselves into this hole over a couple of decades and it’s going to take us a couple of decades to come back out,” Caret said. “I do think we can get to a more reasonable level of state support so there’s a more reasonable cost to taxpayers of the state, and that’s the goal.”
Caret plans to work with business and student groups to lobby state lawmakers to find more money for UMass.
Local businesses have emphasized to him the importance of good, affordable education opportunities in Massachusetts.
“We do have high quality (education). We’re not in the affordable range any longer. When it costs $35,000 or $36,000 before taxes to send a young person to college, that’s no longer what I consider a highly affordable education,” Caret said.
Caret wants to “get the state feeling competitive about itself.” He thinks Massachusetts should compete with states like North Carolina, Texas, California and even Connecticut, all of which are known to have excellent state university systems.
Caret will be inaugurated as UMass President Tuesday afternoon at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.