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MTDC’s Hodgman assumes Foley chair at UMass

By Used with permission from Mass High Tech online. By Matthew French

John Hodgman, the former president and chief executive of the Massachusetts Technology Development Corp., last week was named the first Howard P. Foley Professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Hodgman ran the MTDC, a publicly chartered private equity investment organization that funds Massachusetts startups in seed and early rounds, from 1984 until last year.

As the Howard P. Foley Professor, Hodgman will coordinate initiatives to develop the high tech workforce in the state by bringing business, academia and government together to promote mathematics and engineering at all academic levels.

Hodgman was chosen by the executive committee of the Engineering in Mass. Collaborative, an organization founded four years ago by Krishna Vedula, the dean of the College of Engineering at UMass Lowell.

“The goal of the Engineering in Mass. Collaborative is to increase the number of students in science and engineering careers, and that has to be attacked at the high school and middle school levels, where students really start to lose interest,” Vedula said. “The Engineering in Mass. Collaborative was formed to determine the best practices in that direction and the Foley Professor will act as technical coordinator.”

Hodgman was selected as the first Foley Professor because of his years of dedication and activity, Vedula said. The Foley Professorship was announced at the Mass High Tech Council’s 2001 annual meeting by UMass president William Bulger.

“John has been extremely active over the last three to four years and has the experience and contacts needed for this type of job,” Vedula said. “His job will be to form baseline data and assess the effect of the best practices to increase the student numbers in engineering and science. He will develop a briefing paper of his finishing and recruit business, government and academia to the cause.”

The professorship was endowed by the Mass. High Tech Council and will be part-time. The position will not include any teaching duties.

Hodgman hadn’t planned to retire in 2001 for at least three more years, but when his wife passed away in 2000, he changed his plans. Now 57, he said he looks forward to being the first to wear the Howard P. Foley mantle.

“I think this is terrific, and I feel very honored to be the first selected,” Hodgman said. “Since I’ve retired from 33 years in active management, I have the time necessary to invest in a project like this. I’ve always been active in a number of efforts in education and job training and development with the MTDC. Fortunately, this isn’t rocket science. I’m going to take proven approaches to this issue and see how they may best be brought into the picture.”

Howard P. Foley was the head of the Mass High Tech Council for 20 years, retiring in early 2001. Prior to moving into the economic development field, Foley led IBM’s financial marketing team in Boston. He then became executive director of Jobs for Massachusetts, an organization meant to draw companies to the state. There he met Ray Stata, chairman of Analog Devices, and the idea for the council was born.

Foley is a member of the advisory board of GoldK LLC in Waltham, a company that provides 401(k) services to small businesses.