Jean Paul Mather was the youngest president in his era to lead a land-grant university. He joined the University of Massachusetts in 1953 as Provost, and in 1954, at the age of 39, was appointed President.
During his tenure, major academic restructuring took place. The College of Arts and Sciences was formed from the merger of the School of Science and the School of Art. The Schools of Education and Nursing were inaugurated. In addition, the faculty senate was organized.
Mather advocated fiscal autonomy for the University and struggled with state officials to raise salaries for the faculty. In 1956, he gained authority from the state to appoint faculty without state approval. His work is credited with building a foundation for the academic strength of the University. Several important campus buildings were completed under his leadership, including the Morrill Science Center, the Student Union, Bartlett Hall and Machmer Hall.
Mather left UMass in 1960 to assume the presidency of the American College Testing Program. He later became president of the University City Science Center in Philadelphia from 1964 to 1969. In 1969, Mather returned to his alma mater, the Colorado School of Mines, to become head of the mineral economic department.
He received honorary degrees from American International College, Amherst College, Northeastern University, The University of Rhode Island, Hokkaido University of Japan, Lowell Tech, and Lesley College.