Visionaries galore

It doesn’t have the star-power alumni list of the private colleges across the state, but look closely and you’ll find some impressive thinkers to come out of UMass, beyond the most repeated names of Bill Cosby and Jack Welch.

Former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin is a UMass grad, as are Pakistani Minister of Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and Hau Lung-pin, the mayor of Taipei.

Steven Sinofsky, who until November was president of Microsoft’s Windows division, studied computer science at UMass. founder Jeff Taylor and John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, also are of UMass.

Betty Shabazz, the late widow of Malcolm X, earned her doctorate in education at the Amherst campus. Allen St. Pierre is a UMass Amherst alumnus, too; he’s now executive director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws.


The UMass ties to Hollywood are surprisingly impressive. Screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh (“Die Hard With a Vengeance,’’ “Jumanji,’’ “Armageddon’’) is a graduate. So is Oscar winner William Monahan, who adapted the screenplay for “The Departed,’’ singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, composer and singer Taj Mahal, author Paul Theroux, Grammy winner Natalie Cole, Norm Abram of “This Old House,’’ Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet, the Pixies’ Frank Black and Joey Santiago, and Peter Laird, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Jeffrey Donovan of the TV series “Burn Notice’’ worked his way through UMass by driving a campus shuttle bus. The actor Rob Corddry, formerly of “The Daily Show,’’ went to UMass, too, originally planning to major in journalism but switching to English and spending much of his time there in the drama department.

Richard Gere attended the school — on a gymnastics scholarship — and majored in philosophy. But he left after two years and never graduated (clearly, a decision that stunted his career).

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