James Karam elected chair of trustee board

James J. Karam was elected Aug. 4 to chair the University’s 22-member Board of Trustees. Karam succeeds Grace K. Fey, who remains on the board but did not seek a fifth one-year term as chair.

“I am proud and honored to accept the chairmanship of this distinguished board,” Karam said. “As a UMass alumnus, this is a particularly gratifying moment. It is also a great honor to accept the gavel from Grace Fey, who has led the UMass Board of Trustees with courage, honor and distinction. Grace Fey steered the UMass system to new heights. She had remarkable success during a period when success wasn’t easy to come by – and that is the hallmark of a truly great leader.”

Karam added: “I look forward to working with President Wilson, the chancellors and the other members of the UMass community to provide top-quality public higher education to the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

Karam, 57, a resident of Tiverton, R.I., is the president and founder of the Fall River-based First Bristol Corporation, a shopping center, hotel and office space development company. He is also the co-owner of two southcoast Massachusetts radio stations. Karam is a graduate of UMass Dartmouth and has served on the Board of Trustees since January 2002. He also serves on the University of Massachusetts Foundation board, is a past chairman of the UMass Dartmouth Foundation and is co-chairman of the board of advisers of the Center for Marine Science and Technology at the Dartmouth campus.

President Jack M. Wilson said that, “Jim Karam brings so many assets to the chairmanship as a dedicated and involved alumnus, as an astute business leader and as someone whose strength and wisdom were quickly noted by his colleagues on the Board of Trustees and by the rest of the UMass community. Chairman Karam will be an invaluable asset as we seek to bring UMass to new levels of educational and research excellence.”

Karam was elected to a one-year term as chairman as the trustees met in Shrewsbury.