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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Introducing President Jack – Editorial 4/1/04

The seven-month “national” search for a new UMass president has ended. Interim President Jack Wilson will remain at One Beacon Street as Billy Bulger’s official replacement.

Though Jack Wilson is not the celebrity that the Board of Trustees was hoping to recruit, his selection marks a step forward for UMass. Over the last few months, Wilson has already proven he can handle the job, earning praise from students and political leaders alike. He’s got a high aptitude for fundraising and no connections with the Bulger administration (though many with a thirst for controversy will disagree on that).

All this being said, we still have our doubts. First, who is Jack Wilson? There is a lot that remains unknown about the man himself. UMass is in a state of crisis after several rounds of budget cuts totaling more than $100 million. We do not know how Wilson plans to approach this problem. Will he seek more funding from the legislature or will he rely mainly on courting private funding for our public university? Hopefully the former, as a state institution should be funded by the state.

It has been said that Wilson is “Romney-friendly,” but we don’t know what this means for UMass. Will Wilson tame the Romney budget bulldozer? We don’t know. But our main concern is how Wilson feels about Romney’s radical proposals for the reorganization of UMass.

The last problem is that the selection process was flawed. The selection committee worked in secret revealing nothing to the public, and in the end the decision was rushed through for reasons that don’t add up. UMass is a public institution and the result of the selection process is bound to have a tremendous effect on Massachusetts. The public deserves an open selection process, which could only result in helping to find the best candidate for the job.

Without being involved in the selection process, how do we know if Wilson was the best candidate? For now, we can only say, “Perhaps he is.” At the very least his selection marks a break from the past. Gone will be the controversies that plagued and distracted the Bulger administration. We look forward to hearing Wilson’s views on the future of UMass, and hope he follows through on his potential.