UMass names new building authority chief
Craven lauded for K-12 work
The head of the Massachusetts School Building Authority is graduating to a new position: executive director of the University of Massachusetts Building Authority.
Katherine P. Craven had run the School Building Authority, overseeing $3 billion in state spending on kindergarten through 12th grade educational facilities, since its creation in 2004.
In her new role at UMass, announced yesterday, she will also hold the title of assistant vice president for capital finance.
The 38-year-old Craven has honed a reputation as a problem solver.
“Katherine is rightly credited as being a model public servant, someone who brings sound judgment, unquestioned expertise, and a tireless work ethic to the business of serving the people and advancing the public interest,’’ Robert L. Caret, UMass president, said in a statement.
The UMass board of trustees approved a five-year plan last week to spend $3.1 billion to build and renovate science labs, dorms, and athletic facilities. Craven - who succeeds David J. MacKenzie, who is retiring - will be charged with turning those plans into reality, even though the school carries substantial debt from previous construction projects.
Craven, who starts her new job Dec. 1, called the move bittersweet, saying that while it was difficult to leave her current position she saw opportunity in the new post.
“You always have to have a curious mind and ask questions,’’ she said. “Don’t ever believe the first bid. When people say this is the only way to get things done, don’t believe it. There are always other options.’’
Craven said her work with kindergarten-through-12th-grade schools differs from the work she will do at UMass.
“For UMass, this is a competitive advantage to have facilities to draw in prospective students,’’ she said.
“In K-12, we do what we can with whatever is available. It’s interesting because college education has become defined by the facilities.’’
Craven, a Harvard College graduate who lives in Brookline, promised to listen to the people who live in and work at the university.
“We can’t do this by ourselves,’’ she said. “We have a lot of able and willing partners to help us out.’’
“We have to think of a way to make the university’s dreams come true while making sure that the taxpayers and donors are protected and that their money is well spent,’’ Craven said.
Robert Sheridan, chairman of the UMass Building Authority, said in an interview that as the school embarks on an ambitious slate of construction projects, solid management is imperative.
“We have a big loss with McKenzie leaving, but I think the quality of leadership will continue under Katherine,’’ Sheridan said.
Craven, he said, “can almost walk on water with what she’s done for Massachusetts.’’
Derek J. Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.