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Henry M. Thomas III elected Vice Chairman of UMass Trustees: Victor Woolridge to serve as Chairman of Administration & Finance

LOWELL - The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees today elected Henry M. Thomas III of Springfield vice chairman of the Board and named Victor Woolridge, also of Springfield, chairman of its Administration and Finance committee.

Thomas, who serves as President of the Urban League of Springfield, was appointed to the UMass Board of Trustees by Governor Patrick in September 2007.  He recently served as Vice Chairman of the UMass Presidential Search Committee and is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees Committee on Academic and Student Affairs.

Woolridge, who has an extensive background in real estate and finance, was appointed to the Board of Trustees in 2009.

Thomas succeeds James J. Karam in one of the Board's two vice chairmanship positions. Ruben J. King-Shaw Jr. is the other vice chairman.

Earlier this month, Gov. Deval Patrick appointed Karam to the Board chair position that was vacated in December when Robert J. Manning stepped down as chair.

Karam, a UMass Dartmouth graduate, praised the selection of Thomas.

"Henry Thomas is a dynamic and energetic leader and a strong advocate for the University. He is a respected and admired community leader in Springfield and has a broad and encompassing vision for the University and for the Commonwealth," Karam said.

UMass President Jack M. Wilson said that Thomas "has been a passionate advocate for students since joining the Board of Trustees. Henry Thomas understands that education is the key to success for individual students and for our Commonwealth as a whole. He is doing everything that he can to ensure the availability of high-quality public higher education."

Woolridge, who was appointed to the UMass Board of Trustees by Governor Patrick in November 2009, is a UMass Amherst alumnus and serves as Vice President of Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC in Hartford, Connecticut. He was previously a Managing Director for the investment firm Babson Capital Management LLC as well as MassMutual.

"Victor Wooldridge's deep financial acumen will be a significant asset in this very important role. I look forward to working with him on the budget process for the next fiscal year, which is a critically important undertaking for the University," Karam said.

President Wilson said: "Victor Woolridge's financial skill and experience will serve us well as we continue to navigate our way through difficult fiscal waters."

Karam added: "I appreciate Henry and Victor stepping forward to take on these new responsibilities. They will be filling critical leadership roles as we take on an array of important issues. Our great challenge is to address the serious financial issues that loom before us, all the while being responsive to increased student demand and maintaining the level of quality we need to provide to serve our students and serve the Commonwealth."


Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073; Cosmo Macero, 617-646-1017



Henry M. Thomas, III serves as President of the Urban League of Springfield, Inc.  Mr. Thomas is a native of Springfield, MA and has worked in the Urban League movement for thirty-five years; serving thirty-one years as President and CEO.  At the age of twenty-five, Henry Thomas became the youngest appointed Urban League affiliate President and CEO in the nation.

Mr. Thomas serves as Chief Executive Officer for the historic Camp Atwater - the oldest African American overnight youth camp in the United States - which he reopened in 1980 following a six-year hiatus.

Thomas accepted a two-year assignment with the National Urban League (New York) serving as its Vice-President for Youth Development - primary focus: infrastructure development to support youth within the inner city communities.

Mr. Thomas hosts and produces a weekly radio program - Urban League Community Focus, now in its 15th year on WTCC.

Mr. Thomas serves on numerous local, state and national boards:

  • New Leadership Charter School (Founder & presiding Chairman of the Board of Trustees)
  • Step Up Springfield (Founder and Co-Chairman)
  • Hamden County Regional Employment Board (Executive Committee)
  • National Association of Urban League Executives (Past President)
  • Springfield Cable Endowment (Chairman of the Board of Trustees)
  • Former Chairman of the Springfield Fire Commission (1st African American)
  • Former Chairman of the Springfield Police Commission (1st African American)
  • University of Massachusetts and at Curry College (former visiting professor)

Mr. Thomas earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology; Masters of Arts degree in Human Resource Development from American International College; and a Jurisprudence Doctorate degree from Western New England College School of Law.  He also received honorary Doctoral Degrees from BayPath and Westfield State Colleges; Certificate of completion for the Senior Executive Leadership Program, Harvard University - Kennedy School Government and Public Policy.

Mr. Thomas was recently appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to serve on his 2007 Transition Team, "Pre-K through Higher Education".  He was also selected by the Governor to Co-Chair the Governor's 2007 Greater Springfield Inauguration Celebration.  Subsequently, Governor Patrick has appointed Mr. Thomas to his "Readiness Project" where he is a member the Readiness Project's leadership circle, and he serves as the Chief liaison to the "Assessment and Assistance Subcommittee".

On September 14, 2007, Mr. Thomas was appointed by the Governor to a five-year term on the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees.  He was appointed Chair of the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs on March 19, 2008.  He serves as a member of the Committee on Administration and Finance, the Committee on Science, Technology and Research, the Athletics Committee, the Compensation Committee, the Budget Oversight Task Force and as a member of the UMass Building Authority.  .  He also serves as a member of the Board of Higher Education.  He served as a member of the Nursing Task Force (2007) and the UMass Amherst Chancellor Search Committee (2007).  Mr. Thomas recently served as Vice Chair of the University of Massachusetts President's Search Committee.

Mr. Thomas' bride of thirty-five years is Devonia J. Thomas who hails from Marshall, TX.  They have two children: Son, Perren, an investment banker on Wall Street and daughter, Shadae, a (fourth grade) teacher in Cambridge, MA.

Mr. Thomas relaxes by playing racquetball, saxophone, reading and watching a lot of football.


Victor Woolridge is Vice President of Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC in Hartford, Connecticut.  He is a member of the Real Estate Finance Group ("REFG").  He is responsible for portfolio management of assets requiring special servicing and was previously involved in mezzanine debt financing and the acquisition and financing of real estate portfolios.  He was also involved in REFG's origination, structuring and distribution of commercial mortgage investments for external clients.

Mr. Woolridge joined MassMutual in 1982, later transitioning to Babson Capital as part of its acquisition by MassMutual.  He is a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association and served on the Bankruptcy Working Group established by the MBA to formulate and implement the industry's bankruptcy relief policy during the late 1980's and early 1990's.  He was also a member of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), was formerly on the MassMutual Leadership Effectiveness Board, and serves on several community boards.

He holds a B.A. in Legal Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and holds the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation.

Mr. Woolridge was appointed to the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees on November 16, 2009.  He has served as Vice Chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs and the Committee on Administration and Finance.



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Robert P. Connolly
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Ann Scales
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Jan Brogen
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