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February 26, 2024
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Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Victor Woolridge Replaces Henry Thomas as Chairman of UMass Board of Trustees


Victor Woolridge, the new Chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees. A Springfield resident, he’s chaired the Board’s Committee on Administration and Finance since 2011, and is the Vice President of Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers. He graduated from UMass Amherst with a degree in legal studies in 1971.

On Jan. 26, Gov. of Massachusetts Charlie Baker announced the replacement of Henry Tomas III by Victor Woolridge as the Chairman of the University of Massachusetts Board Of Trustees.  

“[Woolridge] brings a clear strategic vision for leveraging the entire UMass system to fulfill its promise for academic excellence, affordability[,] and economic impact,” said Baker in the press release. 

Springfield resident Woolridge has chaired the UMass Board’s Committee on Administration and Finance since 2011, and is the Vice President of Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers. He graduated from UMass Amherst with a degree in legal studies in 1971. 

“Victor brings strong business and financial experience to this important job, along with a deep-seated commitment to the success of UMass and a personal understanding of its potential to transform lives,” said Baker.

Outgoing chair Henry Thomas wrote in his resignation letter to Baker that he wanted to provide the new governor with the option to choose a replacement.

“After a period of reflection and consideration, I have determined that it is appropriate to offer you my resignation from the Chairmanship of the University of Massachusetts Board Of Trustees, so that you and the members of your team will be able to fill the position with the appointee of your choice,” wrote Thomas in his resignation letter. 

Thomas, who has held the position since appointed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2012, will remain on the board until his term ends in 2017.

During Thomas’ time as chairman, the University froze tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates for two back-to-back years, enrollment reached new highs, and the school system was named the top public university in New England. 

UMass Boston’s student trustee Nolan O’Brien said, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Henry Thomas III in his capacity as Chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees for nearly two years. I will miss his strong leadership and stewardship but look forward to continuing our working relationship in his role as trustee.”

“I also want to congratulate the new Chairman of the Board whom I’ve known and worked with just as long, Victor Woolridge. I am looking forward to working with Chairman Woolridge in this new role.” 

The UMass Board of Trustees is a legislative body in charge of establishing policies that govern the university. The school system president is the prime administrator.

The board is comprised of 22 trustees, 17 of whom represent the interests of the public and are appointed by the governor, and five of whom are students voted in by, and representing the interests of, the student bodies of their respective institutions: Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Worcester. 

One of the most pressing issues the new chairman Woolridge faces is the process of finding a new president. Forming a search committee is his responsibility. The current president of four years, Robert Claret, will be resigning in June to become the next chancellor of the University of Maryland system. 

Woolridge’s term on the Board of Trustees is set to expire in 2019.

For more information about University of Massachusetts governance, visit http://1.usa.gov/1D6Ths5.