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UMASS Building Authority elects Philip W. Johnston

Robert Sheridan steps down after three terms as chairman

Banner Staff | 6/20/2013, 6 a.m.

University of Massachusetts President Robert L. Caret recently announced the election of Philip W. Johnston as Chairman of the UMass Building Authority Board of Directors.

Johnston, who is President and Chief Executive Officer of Johnston Associates, a Boston-based public affairs firm he founded in 1996, was elected Chairman at UMBA’s recent annual meeting. He succeeds Robert Sheridan, who served three terms as Chairman and oversaw $3.4 billion in construction at UMass, including the General Academic Building at UMass Boston, the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center at UMASS Lowell, the Albert Sherman Center at UMass Medical School in Worcester and the Recreation Center at UMass Amherst.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity and honor for me to serve on the UMBA Board as Chairman,” said Sheridan. “I wish Chairman Johnston nothing but success.”

In announcing the selection of Johnston, a UMass graduate, President Caret said: “Given the many services that he was already providing to the University, I appreciate Phil Johnston’s willingness to take on this new leadership role at the UMass Building Authority, which is critical for the continued success across all five campuses. I know that Phil will discharge his new duties with diligence and skill, and with the special passion that a graduate brings to serving his or her alma mater.”

 Johnston, who served two terms as Chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 to the Commission of White House Fellows, said: “I’m honored to continue this journey Bob Sheridan started a few years ago. The building and construction process in the Commonwealth has long been an interest of mine.’’

He added: “The University of Massachusetts currently is engaged in the most aggressive building program in its history on all five campuses.  I look forward to working ... to ensure that these projects are completed within an open process which emphasizes both creativity in design and efficiency and transparency in the bidding process.”

Johnston has more than 30 years of experience in the public sector. From 1984 to 1991, Johnston served as the Massachusetts Secretary of Human Services under Governor Michael Dukakis, after serving five consecutive terms as State Representative.

In 1992, President Bill Clinton appointed him as the New England Administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a role he held until 1996 when he became a congressional candidate for Massachusetts’ 10th District.

As a member of the UMass Board of Trustees, Johnston chaired the UMass Medical School Search Committee for Chancellorship. He most recently served as Search Committee Chair of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellorship.

Johnston is also the Chair of the Board of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum.  He also sits on the Boards of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute, the Carroll Center for the Blind, and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

In 2012, Johnston was appointed to the Advisory Board of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also the Founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, one of the top juvenile justice and social services agencies in the country.

 Johnston, a resident of Marshfield, Mass., received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from UMASS Amherst and a Master of Arts Degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Material from UMASS contributed to this report.