UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Victor Woolridge Receives National Honor

President Meehan says Woolridge has improved “countless lives through his civic and business activities”
Victor Woolridge
Victor Woolridge

SAN DIEGO – Victor Woolridge, a lifelong Springfield resident whose UMass education propelled him to success as a business and civic leader and to the chairmanship of the UMass Board of Trustees, today was honored by the Council for Opportunity in Education for his accomplishments and for demonstrating the transformative power of higher education.

The Council for Opportunity in Education recognized Chairman Woolridge and four others with its 2016 National TRIO Achievers award. The TRIO award is named for the federal outreach and student services programs first established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 and 1965 to help individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds pursue and attain college degrees. The award recognizes TRIO program graduates who have gone on to make lasting contributions in their fields.

“These Americans came from humble beginnings and have gone on to lead successful and often inspiring lives and are examples to which we can all aspire,” said Maureen Hoyler, president of the Council for Opportunity in Education.

A 1980 legal studies graduate of UMass Amherst, a graduate of the Upward Bound program and vice president of Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers, Chairman Woolridge was appointed chairman of the 22-member UMass Board of Trustees by Governor Charlie Baker on January 26, 2015, after having served on the Board in various leadership positions since 2009.

“Victor Woolridge represents the University of Massachusetts and public higher education at its finest – personally demonstrating its ability to shape lives and build a better future,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “The Victor Woolridge who graduated from the University of Massachusetts has gone on to improve countless lives through his civic and business activities and thus is deserving of this recognition and of our deep appreciation. I also commend the Council for Opportunity in Education and TRIO for providing critical opportunities to generations of deserving students. They, too, changed lives and in so doing, redefined the future.”

Since his service on the UMass Board of Trustees began in 2009, Chairman Woolridge has been firm in his commitment to improving access and affordability, preserving high-quality academic programs and has focused on efficiency and effectiveness.

“I am honored to receive this award and am deeply appreciative to be included with such distinguished co-recipients,” Chairman Woolridge said. “The Upward Bound program provided me with an important pathway and helped me to succeed and prosper at the University of Massachusetts. I hope that we continue to keep the doors of opportunity open to the students of today and tomorrow, as I know that open doors made a profound difference in my life and can make all the difference to students everywhere.”

Chairman Woolridge has served as the chairman of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and currently serves on the board of Baystate Health.

In addition to Chairman Woolridge, this year’s 2016 National TRIO Achievers are:

  • José Cruz, Executive Director of the Barrio Logan College Institute and an alumnus of the McNair Scholars Program at San Diego State University
  • Marco Davila, Associate Member of the Department of Blood and Marrow Transplantation at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, and Associate Professor in the Department of Oncologic Sciences at  the Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, and participant in the McNair Scholars Program at Texas Christian University
  • Jacquelyn Elliott, President of Central Arizona College and alumna of the Upward Bound program at Emporia State University
  • Harry Lee Williams, President of Delaware State University and alumnus of the Student Support Services program at Appalachian State University

About the Council for Opportunity in Education:

The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) is a nonprofit organization, established in 1981, dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, veterans and students with disabilities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Palau, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Its membership includes more than 1,000 colleges and agencies. Through its numerous membership services, the Council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies that host TRIO programs to specifically help low-income students enter college and graduate. 790,000 low-income students and students with disabilities each year receive college access and retention services through our member colleges and agencies.