Robert L. Caret served as the 26th president of the University of Massachusetts from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2015.
Prior to assuming the leadership of the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Caret, a native New Englander, was the president of Towson University in Maryland from 2003 to 2011 and gained national acclaim for eliminating race-based graduation disparities. He also served as a faculty member, dean, executive vice president and provost during his more than 25-year tenure there.
At Towson, President Caret created partnerships with regional business, non-profit and civic organizations, raised student graduation rates, and undertook a capital fundraising and building campaign to support campus infrastructure improvements and the construction of numerous academic and student life facilities. Between 1995 and 2003, Dr. Caret served as president of San Jose State University, where he championed a joint city/university effort to build the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in San Jose.
As president of the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Caret established himself as a major spokesperson on the pressing issues of college affordability and student debt, calling for Massachusetts and states across the nation to rededicate themselves to their public universities and provide appropriate levels of funding. In Massachusetts, President Caret successfully pursued a 50-50 funding formula for UMass, with the state and students contributing equally to the University's general education program. His success in securing additional state funding from the Legislature allowed UMass to freeze tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduate students for two consecutive years.
Under President Caret's leadership, research expenditures topped the $600 million mark and UMass became a national leader in patents and licensing income. Enrollment rose, the endowment grew to more than $757 million and private donations to the university increased significantly. The university made dramatic gains on prominent college ranking lists and was named the No. 1 public university in New England and among the top 100 universities in the world by The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, considered the most rigorous and influential comparisons of universities internationally.
President Caret also emphasized efficiency and transparency, rolling out a number of cost-saving initiatives as part of his focus on both administrative and academic efficiencies. In addition, President Caret created a new accountability report, UMass Performance: Accountable and on the Move, that lays out the University's goals as they relate to six focal areas: Student Experience & Success; Producing an Educated Workforce and Engaged Citizenry; World Class Research & Development Enterprise; Enhancing the Social Well Being; Good Stewards of Resources; and Telling and Selling the UMass Story. A system-wide "Here for a Reason" advertising campaign that strengthened the UMass brand and reminded citizens of its land grant mission won national awards.
Born in Biddeford, Maine to a restaurant owner, President Caret was the first in his family to attend college. He received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of New Hampshire in 1974 and his bachelor's degree in chemistry and mathematics from Suffolk University in 1969. His honorary degrees include a Doctor of Humane Letters from Saint Joseph's College of Maine and Westfield State University (2012) San Jose University (2004) and National Hispanic University (1997) and a Doctor of Science degree from Suffolk University (1996).