News: Press Releases

April 30, 2013

University of Massachusetts honors longtime Trustee and Board Chairman

  • The UMass System
Announces creation of James J. Karam Scholarship Fund, cites former Board leader's service and dedication

BOSTON -- April 30, 2013: The University of Massachusetts today announced the creation of the James J. Karam Scholarship Fund as UMass honored Karam for his service on the five-campus system's Board of Trustees -- service that included two terms as Board Chairman.

"No university has ever had a stauncher advocate than this University had -- and has -- in Jim Karam," said UMass President Robert L. Caret, who added: "Jim fought for students, fought for excellence, fought for affordability and fought for the basic notion that we as a society need to provide high-quality institutions that transform lives and move us forward in social and economic terms."

Karam, a graduate of UMass Dartmouth, was appointed to the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees in 2002 and served on the 22-member Board for nearly a decade before stepping down last year.

Karam, who held a variety of other leadership positions on the Board that oversees and sets policy for the five-campus, 70,000-student UMass system, was known as a strong voice for academic quality but also stressed the importance of affordability during his years as a Trustee.

Karam also championed a $2.4 billion, 10-year building and renovation program that brought important new academic and research buildings to the campuses, injected new energy into the system and provided a statewide economic boost.

"Over the past decade, I was given an opportunity that any grateful alumnus would cherish -- and that was serving on the Board of Trustees of the school that provided me with so much, the University of Massachusetts," Karam said.

"UMass is of critical importance because it transforms lives in every corner of the Commonwealth and helps to provide the world-class people and ideas we need to compete in the global economy. The University of Massachusetts changed my life and now does me the great honor of creating a scholarship fund in my name that will change the lives of others," Karam said.

At a dinner held at the UMass Club, President Caret announced the creation of the $500,000 James J. Karam Scholarship Fund. The event was chaired by John F. Fish, Ralph de la Torre, MD, and Robert S. Karam. Robert Karam is a former Chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees and is the honoree's brother. The fund, which includes a $100,000 gift from James Karam, will benefit students from the South Coast choosing to attend any of the UMass campuses. The fund was created by contributions from James Karam's friends, business associates and UMass colleagues, in addition to his own $100,000 gift.

"The students receiving these scholarships will enjoy not only the financial benefits of their grants, but will also have the opportunity to be inspired by the example of a man whose success in life has only been exceeded by his passion for and commitment to service," President Caret said.

Governor Deval Patrick, in a prepared statement, noted: "Jim Karam understands the importance of affordable, high quality higher education in driving our economy and strengthening our Commonwealth, and has fought for it for Massachusetts students. He is well deserving of this honor."

"It is only fitting that students living on the South Coast will now be able to join the UMass community with the help of the James J. Karam Scholarship Fund," Senate President Therese Murray said. "Jim worked with a commitment to always do what is best for our students and, because of his leadership, our growing state university campuses have gained the attention and respect of the entire nation and the world."

UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Henry M. Thomas III, who succeeded Karam as Chairman, said the creation of the scholarship fund was "a very fitting way to honor my friend and predecessor, Jim Karam."

"Creating a scholarship fund in Jim Karam's name is particularly appropriate given Jim's focus on providing access and opportunity to deserving students. Jim Karam wants to ensure that the University that transformed his life will make the same difference in the lives of students for generations to come," Chairman Thomas said.

Chairman Thomas added: "Jim Karam's contributions and commitment are all but unparalleled. Jim Karam is a public servant extraordinaire and we owe him a debt of gratitude that goes beyond measure."

Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073, Ann Scales, 617-287-4084