News: Featured Stories

January 12, 2015

Gov. Baker applauds Worcester biotech, academic advancements


  • Medical School
Chancellor Michael F. Collins (left) and Gov. Charlie Baker (right) discuss how vital UMass Medical School and its academic partners are to the area economy.

On his first day in office, Gov. Charlie Baker touted Worcester as an “educational powerhouse,” citing the significant positive economic impact that UMass Medical School, WPI and other area colleges, businesses and community organizations have on the region and state.

“There is a collaborative spirit that exists in our community among our entities which is quite special, and we look forward to leveraging that for you both as you begin your term,” Chancellor Michael F. Collins told Baker, as the new governor and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito paid a visit to WPI and took part in a panel discussion.

The governor’s stop in Worcester on Friday, Jan. 9, at WPI’s Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center, was part of his “Spotlight of Excellence” tour.

Chancellor Collins served on the panel moderated by WPI President Laurie Leshin, which was intended to enlighten Baker and Polito on work in biotech and other digital industries underway in the region. Panel members included area academic and industry experts, including Robert Johnson, president of Becker College; Kevin O’Sullivan, president and CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives; Ted Marple of Blue Sky BioServices; and Tim Murray, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Collins told Baker that institutions of higher education have an extraordinary role in the Worcester community and that the medical school has made a substantial cultural and economic difference in the region and the state, referring to its support of the K–12 system through its pipeline program. The chancellor added that 45 percent of the city’s workforce is in education and health services sectors.

Baker lauded the “tremendous collaborative attitude” in the region, calling it a vibrant and successful academic and economic community.

“We think about our educational institutions as educational institutions and that’s great . . . but many of them have tremendous economic power and capability, if we think differently about them,” Baker said. The governor also highlighted the research and development work at Becker College, WPI and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services, and, in particular, work in ALS, Alzheimer’s and other chronic conditions at UMass Medical School.

“I can’t tell you how much I look forward to watching this region continue to grow, continue to expand and continue to build on this wonderful brand that you’ve established as a bonafide, legitimate player in what I would call the economic opportunity of education,” Baker said.