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December 19, 2014

The president of the University of Massachusetts will be in Baltimore on Friday where he’ll accept his new job as the chancellor of the University of Maryland System. During his four-year tenure at UMass, Robert Caret helped the UMass system achieve some financial stability during very uncertain times. For public college presidents, fundraising has emerged as a full-time job.

On Caret’s watch, UMass raised nearly $350 million dollars. To increase awareness, he launched statewide bus tours covered by local media.

Caret served the Commonwealth at time when state support for public higher ed dropped dramatically, by 25 percent since 2001. That's led to higher tuition and fees – and mounting pressure on public college presidents to reduce costs by increasing fundraising. At the University of Michigan, for example, president Mark Schlissel is trying to cap a $4 billion dollar fundraising campaign.

Related: UMass President Leaving for Job in Maryland

Robert Connolly  is vice president for communications at UMass. He says Caret's decision to head south was a surprise, and one that could affect the university's bottom line.

"Bob Caret certainly made fundraising one of the priorities of his presidency; put his shoulder to the wheel and emphasized it and will continue, I think, for the next three to six months that he serves as president here," said Connolly.

A survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education and Concord-based Maguire Associates found more than half of college and university presidents spend time on fundraising and budget issues on a daily basis. That's more than any other task. Even at public universities, fundraising provides scholarships and dollars to attract and retain high-quality faculty. 

For UMass's next president, Connolly says fundraising is no longer optional but central to the role, and the next president should embrace it.

"As the search goes forward and the candidates come in and meet with the search committee and meet with the trustees, there will be a number of things that will be priorities and candidates will be asked about, but I have no doubt that fundraising will be high on that list," said Connolly.

UMass estimates that Caret spends about 15 percent of his time asking for support. 

 He'll officially take over as chancellor of the University of Maryland System in July.

confronting cost, increasing access and success, Umass

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