News: Press Releases

Michael F. Collins, MD
September 26, 2008

UMass Trustees elect Michael F. Collins, MD, to Medical School chancellorship

BOSTON - Sept. 26,2008: Acting on the recommendation of President Jack M. Wilson, the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees today unanimously elected Michael F. Collins, MD, Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

"Michael Collins has the experience, the passion, the expertise and the vision to be an outstanding leader for a medical school that is already renowned for its academic and research excellence. Michael Collins is the right leader at the right time as the Medical School steps forward to build on its strong record of accomplishment," President Wilson said.

Dr. Collins, 53, is the permanent successor to former Chancellor Aaron Lazare, who stepped down as Chancellor last year but continues to serve as the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor in Medical Education and professor of psychiatry at the Medical School. Dr. Collins will also continue to serve as the University's senior vice president for health sciences.

Dr. Collins has been interim Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School for the past year. Before that, he served as Chancellor of UMass Boston. In that role, he was charged with overseeing an institution renowned for its access to excellence and its diversity. Before joining UMass Boston, Dr. Collins served as president and chief executive officer of Caritas Christi Health Care System from 1994 to 2004. Under his leadership, Caritas Christi became the second-largest health care system in New England.

The Medical School chancellorship appointment was made as the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees met on the Boston campus.

Dr. Collins expressed gratitude, saying: "I am thrilled for the opportunity to serve as Chancellor and grateful for the trust and confidence of the President, the Board of Trustees and the campus community. I look forward to working with my Medical School and University colleagues to realize the full potential of the Commonwealth's great public medical school."

"It has been a great privilege for me over this past year to serve the University as interim Chancellor of the Worcester campus. I have enjoyed building meaningful relationships with the faculty, staff and students of our academic health sciences community, including our clinical partner UMass Memorial Health Care," he added.

Dr. Collins said this was an auspicious time to take on the chancellorship, noting: "This is the life science moment, the University of Massachusetts Medical School is the place, and the future is ours to design."

Robert J. Manning, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, said: "Michael Collins will be an outstanding leader for our Medical School and will also work to foster collaborations with the other campuses in the UMass system, leading to academic and research synergies that will benefit the University of Massachusetts and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We now have an outstanding university-wide leadership team in place, a team that will guide the University of Massachusetts to its rightful place in the top echelon of public universities in the nation."

Trustees voted after President Wilson delivered his formal recommendation, saying: "Michael Collins is committed to students, committed to success and excellence in research and is strongly committed to our public service mission. He is tireless, he is creative, and he is a man of outstanding character."

President Wilson added: "Michael Collins' connection to the city of Worcester and his belief in the city goes back three and a half decades, and I know that he will work hard to build on our ties to the city, to be a strong and engaged partner, and be part of Worcester's success story."

Dr. Collins' name was placed in nomination by Trustee Philip W. Johnston, who chaired the 23-member University of Massachusetts Medical School Chancellor Search Committee that last month unanimously recommended Dr. Collins for the chancellorship. 

"Michael Collins offers a unique blend of knowledge, experience, passion and vision. He has led a hospital system, has been a member of medical school faculties, served as the Chancellor of UMass Boston and has received extremely high marks for the job he has done as interim Chancellor of the Medical School. Our search committee believed that Michael Collins would be a wise and effective leader and was the right person to guide a campus that has already done great things but is destined to leave its mark on the Commonwealth, the nation and the world," Johnston said.

The Medical School search, led by Johnston and with Nobel Laureate Craig C. Mello, PhD, serving as vice chair, lasted six months, during which the search committee met five times, held 10 constituency-group input meetings, reviewed the credentials of numerous candidates and interviewed candidates. The executive recruitment firm of Isaacson, Miller of Boston assisted the committee in the search process, interacting with more than 100 candidates and potential candidates.

The search committee issued its recommendation last month, with Mello, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and UMMS professor of molecular medicine and cell biology, saying: "Michael Collins is a bridge-builder, he has a great vision for this institution."

Dr. Collins has served as interim Chancellor of UMMS and as UMass system senior vice president for health sciences for the past year. As senior vice president for health sciences, he is charged with leading strategic initiatives to further the University's efforts in the Commonwealth's critical life sciences industry.

A board-certified physician in internal medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Dr. Collins has held a number of faculty and academic leadership positions over the course of his career, first at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, where his posts included assistant professor of Internal Medicine and assistant dean for Patient Care Resources, and at Tufts University, where he served as clinical professor of Internal Medicine and associate dean of Government and Medical Affairs in the School of Medicine and as a senior fellow, University College of Citizenship and Public Service.

Dr. Collins is a 1977 cum laude graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, where he served as chair of the board of trustees from 2002-2008. He is a 1981 graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine. He and his wife, Maryellen, have two children, Michael F. Collins, Jr., and Elizabeth M. Collins.

The University of Massachusetts Worcester was created in 1962 by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature to enable state residents to study medicine at an affordable cost and to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in underserved areas of the state. The School of Medicine accepted its first class of 16 students in 1970 and now accepts 100 students per class. Today the 67-acre campus is comprised of the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (opened in 1979), and the Graduate School of Nursing (opened in 1986).

The Medical School consistently ranks among the top medical schools in the country for primary care. One of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, UMMS attracted $193.6 million in research awards in Fiscal Year 2008 and is on the leading edge of medical research into human disease and treatment. The work of Mello and his colleague Andrew Z. Fire, PhD, then of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, toward the discovery of RNA interference was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and has spawned a new and promising field of research.

UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health-care provider in Central Massachusetts. The Medical School's 6,200 employees generate more than $700 million in revenue and make major contributions to communities throughout the Commonwealth.

Contact: Robert P. Connolly
Libby DeVecchi