BALTIMORE, Md. (May 16, 2019)—The University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor Robert L. Caret today announced that he informed the Board of Regents on May 8, 2019 that he will step down from his position on June 30, 2020 and does not wish to be considered for a contract extension.
“Returning to the state where my career in public higher education began was a dream come true, but now is the time for me to move on and explore other professional options,” says Caret.
Caret started his career at Towson University in 1974 as a faculty member in the Chemistry Department. He subsequently served as dean, executive vice president, provost and, eventually, president. Caret left the Towson provost position to become president of San Jose State University in California and was later recruited to return as Towson University’s president. In 2011, Caret was named president of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system. In 2015, he was wooed back once again, this time returning as chancellor of USM.
“Maryland launched my academic career, invited me to become president of the campus that meant so much to me and then asked me to become system chancellor,” says Caret. “Three times, Maryland has asked an immigrant’s son from a mill town in Maine to be part of this remarkable public university, and I am truly grateful to have had these opportunities to serve.”
Caret says he has spent the past 45 years “doing the work I was meant to do.”
Linda Gooden, Chair of the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland says “During Chancellor Caret’s tenure, the system has built upon its role as an economic engine and economic catalyst for the state, with the number of degrees awarded rising to more than 42,000 per year – a figure that includes at least 80 percent of Maryland’s bachelor’s degrees.”
During Caret’s tenure, enrollment has increased from 164,000 to 176,000 students across the system, coinciding with an increase in diversity and inclusion. As the representation of minority students has risen at USM, so too have success levels for USM’s underrepresented minority students.
Gooden adds, “Maryland’s higher education landscape is in a much better place due to Chancellor Caret’s innovative leadership, focus on growth and commitment to shaping young lives for tomorrow. He has made an indelible mark.”
In addition to achieving increased enrollment, USM has worked hard to provide access to affordable, high-quality education by maintaining tuition affordability. As a result of the progress attained under Caret’s leadership, nearly 50 percent of USM undergraduate students now graduate without debt. And, USM’s sound management and fiscal policies have translated into savings of nearly $600 million and one of the nation’s top higher education bond ratings.
“As a young man growing up in a fading mill town, I instinctively understood that education was the answer -- that education was the ticket to a better life,” says Caret. “That was true then and it remains true today.”
Caret has ensured USM continues to instill a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in its students, Maryland and its citizens. In fiscal year 2018 alone, USM institutions, faculty, students and graduates attracted more than $1.4 billion in federal and privately funded research dollars. USM also established the Maryland Momentum Fund, a venture capital fund designed to provide early funding for start-up companies emerging out of USM research. To date, that fund has invested more than $1.8 million into USM-born start-up companies which has been matched with more than $5 million in outside investment funds.
“Public colleges and universities truly are the bridge to a more equitable society and are pathways to a better future, and we have to do everything we can to strengthen them and protect their vital mission,” Caret explains.
During his years leading public university campuses and systems, Caret has been significantly involved with a number of national higher-education organizations. He recently served as chair of the National Association of System Heads and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Board of Directors. He also sits on the board of the Business-Higher Education Forum, the Higher Ed for Higher Standards Advisory Council and the Government University Industry Research Roundtable. He serves on numerous boards in Maryland, including the Greater Baltimore Committee, the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, e-Novation and BioHealth Innovation.
“I look forward to working with the Board and the Presidents over the next year to continue to move the System forward, to guide the seach committees in the hiring of the Presidents at the University of Maryland College Park and Coppin State University, to continue our efforts focused on student success, and the wide range of complex initiatives on our agenda,” says Caret.
Caret, age 71, is the son of a French-Canadian immigrant who ran a diner catering to mill workers in the small, coastal city of Biddeford, Maine. Biddeford’s mills closed during the 1950s and 1960s, and Caret has said that a defining experience for him was seeing many of the millworkers never earn another paycheck because they lacked the education and skills to find other work. Caret received his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of New Hampshire and his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and mathematics from Suffolk University in Boston.
The Board of Regents will announce the details regarding a search for a new chancellor at a later date.