With Marty Meehan, a former US representative and current chancellor at UMass Lowell, out of the running for UMass president, the board of trustees’ selection committee must find new candidates to forward onto the full board. Here is a list of candidates the committee should consider:
Ian Bowles: Almost everyone agrees that the soon-to-be former Massachusetts secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs has done a stellar job molding the state agency into a force for change. He has been Governor Patrick’s go-to guy for positioning Massachusetts to be a global leader in renewable energy. The governor should ask him to do the same with the state’s university, tapping into Bowles’s DC connections, Oxford degree, and “centrist” roots (he is the former president and CEO of MassINC) to shape UMass into a global leader for American public higher education.
Michael Crow: Listening to the president of Arizona State University talk about the “new American University” is like hearing a good sermon in church. I believe! Where do I send the check? What’s going on at ASU will be a game changer, and Crow is quickly becoming the leader of movement to transform the structure and practices of public higher ed. He is challenging ASU to become an interdisciplinary university, tearing down silos that exist between academics, launching new research centers such as the nation's first Global Institute of Sustainability, and being relentless about solving real-world problems.
Ed Glaeser: The Harvard economist, Boston Globe columnist and CommonWealth magazine contributor, and one of the city’s snappiest dressers, really gets the state’s economy and the big, global challenges facing Mass. businesses and workers. Glaeser sees economic freedom and education as the “two ingredients of sustainable economic success around the world today.” That’s the kind of thinking we need to lead UMass to the next level.
Kati Haycock: A relentless advocate for closing the achievement gap, Haycock leads a Washington, D.C.-based organization called the Education Trust whose approach — college begins in kindergarten — was way ahead of its time. Nobody better articulates the lost opportunities the achievement gap represents than Haycock. And since this is the most significant education issue facing Governor Patrick during his second term, he needs a leader at UMass making sure the university is fully engaged in learning from pre-K through graduation, and beyond.
In an ideal world, the next UMass president would be one part social entrepreneur like Bowles; one part institutional reformer like Crow; one part economic visionary like Glaeser; and one part social justice advocate like Haycock. The board of trustees’ selection committee would be wise to consider each.
John Schneider is executive vice president of MassINC.