Governor Baker Appoints Becker College President Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., to Board of Higher Education

Published on Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Press Release from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Education:  


BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker appointed Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., as a member of the Board of Higher Education, and Robert Epstein and Robert J. Manning as members of the Board of Trustees for the University of Massachusetts (UMass).

“These new Board members have a strong commitment to excellence in higher education, and I’m confident that they will be catalysts for taking our public state and community college system to the next level,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As President of Becker College in Worcester, Dr. Johnson understands how to lead and manage a career-oriented college that is responsive to the changing needs and demands of employers and communities. UMass Lowell alumnus Rob Manning has previously chaired the board with distinction and has shown an exceptional level of commitment to making our public universities world-class institutions. As a successful entrepreneur and graduate of UMass Amherst, Bob Epstein has already had a tremendous impact on our campuses, after launching the ‘Reason to Give’ Scholarship, which helps UMass students whose parents lose their jobs.”

“These leaders bring an incredible level of experience and commitment to higher education in Massachusetts,” said Secretary of Education, Jim Peyser. “I am delighted to work alongside these new members who will be innovative leaders on our boards.”

“I am honored to serve the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D. “It is a pleasure to be a champion for ensuring our young people receive a quality higher education. This appointment presents a tremendous opportunity to advance higher education in this transitional economy, which will enhance the lives of not just our students, but all of our citizens.”

“I am delighted to be appointed by Governor Baker to be a trustee of UMass,” said Robert Epstein. “I am passionate about the university and hope to sustain its position as the crown jewel of our commonwealth.”

“I’m thrilled to be back as a trustee of UMass and I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Governor Baker and I’m proud to be a part of his team,” said Robert J. Manning.

Dr. Johnson will replace Maura Banta on the Board of Higher Education, and Mr. Manning will replace the open UMass Lowell Alumni seat vacated by Zoila Gomez and Mr. Epstein will replace Ruben King-Shaw, Jr., who served two full terms and is not eligible for reappointment.

About Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.
Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., became the tenth president of Becker College in July 2010. Under Dr. Johnson’s leadership, Becker College has been named one of the “best institutions for undergraduate education” by The Princeton Review for four consecutive years and the College’s game design program has been ranked by The Princeton Review for the last six years, including, in 2015, the 9th best undergraduate program in the world. In 2011, Becker was designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as home to the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI), a statewide center for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Johnson holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Trident University International (formerly Touro University International), a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Cincinnati, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Morehouse College. Dr. Johnson is a member of the Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan policy organization of chief executives, university presidents, and labor leaders, and serves on the boards of a number of state and local organizations.

About Robert Epstein
Robert Epstein was raised in Brockton and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Upon graduation he joined his family business and helped to take a small regional operation into the largest beverage alcohol distributer in New England. Horizon Beverage Group has been in business for over 82 years and employs over 800 people in 5 states. Mr. Epstein remains active in numerous civic and charitable endeavors particularly Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Hospice of Cape Cod, and UMass Amherst.

About Robert Manning
Robert J. Manning is chairman and co-chief executive officer of MFS Investment Management and a trustee of the MFS Funds Board. Prior to that, he held the title of president and chief investment officer, as well as several leadership positions in the Fixed Income Division. MFS manages $450 billion in assets globally and employs 2,000 people. He received a Master of Science degree in Finance from Boston College and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Mr. Manning is a member of the Investment Company Institute’s board of governors and a trustee of the Boston Medical Center’s Pension and Endowment Funds. In 2011, he received a Doctor of Humane Letters from UMass Lowell, where he endowed the Manning School of Business.

About the UMass Board of Trustees
The University of Massachusetts is governed by a 22-member Board of Trustees that represents various interests of the public at large on a non-partisan basis. Seventeen members of the board are appointed by the Governor and five members are UMass students elected by the student body on each of the five campuses.

The Board of Trustees functions as a legislative body dealing mainly with general policies governing the University. The Board is not an administrative or management board. The Massachusetts General Laws allows it to act as an appeals body in certain rare instances.

About the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
The mission of the Board of Higher Education is to ensure that Massachusetts residents have the opportunity to benefit from a higher education that enriches their lives and advances their contributions to the civic life, economic development, and social progress of the Commonwealth. To that end, the programs and services of Massachusetts higher education must meet standards of quality commensurate with the benefits it promises and must be truly accessible to the people of the Commonwealth in all their diversity.

For more information on the Board of Higher Education, please visit the website.