President Caret Tells Kennedy Library Crowd: ‘Dream No Small Dreams’
BOSTON -- Formally taking office as the University’s 26th President, Robert L. Caret today paid tribute to the transformative power of higher education and said that the University of Massachusetts 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 8th 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.
President 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 Commonwealth, including Massachusetts 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.
“As a graduate of UMass Boston, I am delighted to be participating in President Caret’s inauguration ceremony. I know that President Caret has deep concern for the educational needs of families across the city and throughout the state and is going to work to keep a high-quality UMass education affordable and accessible, and I support him in this important work,” said Mayor Menino.
“President Caret has already proven to be a tremendous partner, and I look forward to working with him and the UMass community as we continue to strengthen the Commonwealth’s future by promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and workforce preparedness,” Lt. Gov. Murray said.
Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo issued statements, with President Murray saying, “Robert Caret has a history of success working with public universities across the nation, and I look forward to what he will accomplish at the University of Massachusetts,” and Speaker DeLeo saying, “I congratulate President Caret on his inauguration. We are fortunate to have a new leader with a bold plan for the future of UMass. I offer him any assistance as he embarks on this vital mission.”
Serving as chief marshal for the inauguration was Craig C. Mello, Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the 2006 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
In his inaugural address, President 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 President 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.”
James J. Karam, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, opened the ceremony with words of welcome and praise.
“Having an outstanding leader at the helm of the University is critical to sustaining and building upon the excellence and momentum already in place at UMass,” said Chairman Karam. “That is why I’m thrilled that we are installing Robert Caret as the University’s new president.”
President Caret comes to the five-campus, 69,000-student University of Massachusetts system from Towson University, where he gained national acclaim for eliminating race-based graduation disparities while also leading an effort to promote economic development and workforce development initiatives.
During the inauguration, President Caret, who was elected president in January, lauded the University’s growth and achievements but challenged the University community to commit to more ambitious goals for the system’s future.
The inauguration ceremony was held shortly after President Caret returned from a first-of-its-kind statewide bus tour, during which he met with business and community leaders from every region of the Commonwealth.
“From the Berkshires to New Bedford, from the New York border to Buzzards Bay, I saw a state where people are not only depending on us – depending on us for an affordable, quality education – but where people are willing to say: ‘How can I help? How can I be a part of this future?’ I witnessed the passion of our faculty and students and the enthusiasm of our business leaders and communities, working together hand-in-hand to have a tremendous impact on the economic development and revitalization of the Commonwealth,” said President Caret.
Following the academic address delivered by President Caret’s longtime friend and colleague, Chancellor William E. Kirwan of the University of Maryland system, Gov. Patrick joined Chairman Karam to welcome President Caret into office and present him with the presidential medal and chain.
President Caret said, “To all who are in this room and who have supported and nurtured me over the years -- and to the University of Massachusetts community -- thank you for honoring me in this fashion and for entrusting me with this solemn responsibility. The road that lies ahead is full of challenges, but our cause is so important. As I look ahead, I think of the values instilled in me in a little Maine mill town. I think of the parents and family who worked so hard and gave me so much, and I tell you: I mean to deliver.”
In his keynote address, Kirwan, the Chancellor of the public university system in Maryland, said: “For sure, Maryland’s grave loss is Massachusetts’s substantial gain. Bob Caret is truly the right man in the right position at the right time for the University of Massachusetts system.”
Prior to assuming the presidency of the University of Massachusetts, 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).