Losing Holub would be a blow to school,state

May 26, 2011

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AS A former colleague of Robert Holub, it was with great sadness that I read Tracy Jan’s article about the challenges currently facing him (“Chancellor at UMass may face ax,’’ Page A1, May 22). UMass Amherst finally has a great leader in Holub. If his contract is not renewed, the university will find it extraordinarily difficult to attract a recognized leader of his quality, and Massachusetts will not have a pre-eminent public university of the caliber it deserves.

I was particularly disturbed by the accusation by some observers that Holub is not committed to diversity. This is both cynical and dishonest. I know from first-hand experience that Holub is totally committed to equity and inclusion, and is a passionate advocate for social justice.

Finally, creating a medical school in Springfield would be uplifting for the city of Springfield and would enable UMass to marry the outstanding basic scientific research carried out on the Amherst campus with health science research carried out at a nearby medical center. Not just the state but the entire country would benefit from such a partnership. I wish that I could do the same here in Berkeley.

Not only should the trustees extend Holub’s contract, they must also give him their unconditional support. If they do not, they will have done irreparable damage to public education in Massachusetts.

Robert J. Birgeneau
University of California Berkeley
Berkeley, Calif.