Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Jack Wilson can take the heat
From a hundred miles away Umass is simply considered part of the town of Amherst, albeit a large busy part. They have their own zip code (01003) but you still write Amherst, Ma on the envelope.
Like most townies, I view UMass as separate from the town. Although many students are registered to vote their involvement in local politics is nil and most don’t even bother to register their cars here, thus denying the town excise tax revenues.
So when something flares up at the University—like the Red Sox riots or graduation protests over Andy Card’s honorary degree--I view it more as a reflection on the University than the town. After all, Amherst has enough PR problems of its own.
Recently students and staff denied President Jack Wilson and Mr. Card their First Amendment right to speech by creating a highly public wall of sound to drown them out at graduating ceremonies (not to mention holding up a banner to intrude on visuals), thus embarrassing the University and spoiling a happy occasion for many who worked hard for their Graduate degrees.
While the honorary degree was probably not Jack Wilson’s idea, the controversial restructuring of the UMass system with him taking a more active role in the management of the Amherst flagship sounds like him.
Since Mr. Wilson has a strong background in entrepreneurship he undoubtedly understands the 80/20 principle: 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your product line. Therefore, try to identify that lucrative niche and invest more of your time and energy there rather than less important things.
UMass is the gem of higher education in Massachusetts. If anyone can identify places to invest more time and money for better returns it’s Jack Wilson. And while Chancellor Lombardi has been good for the University, a more hands on approach from a talent like Jack Wilson will be great for the University and by extension great for the town.
Considering the faculty now voting “no confidence” in Jack Wilson are probably some of very same who denied him the right to speak at last week’s graduation ceremony, I have little confidence in them.