THE GLOBE’S Sept. 13 editorial regarding the UMass board is profoundly wrong-headed (“Patrick’s picks for UMass board put politics before academic vision"). The board’s function is to advance and promote public higher education in the Commonwealth. This requires board members with outstanding political skills and deep relationships within the state that can benefit the university. In addition, every board member should possess a strong personal commitment to UMass.
As the Globe correctly notes, Governor Patrick’s appointees meet this important test because nearly all are alumni who have demonstrated that they are eager to use their skills and resources to help UMass.
For generations, Harvard’s board of overseers has included exactly the kinds of people described by the editorial writer as “political insiders,’’ including John F. Kennedy. What works for Harvard will work for UMass.
University boards do not need scholars; they need activists who can move these important institutions forward.
Philip W. Johnston
The writer is a member of the UMass board of trustees and a former chairman of the state Democratic Party.