William M. Bulger is the twenty-fourth president of the University
of Massachusetts. He assumed office on January 4, 1996. In his inauguration
speech, President Bulger said the University recognizes that "it
is for life - not merely for a living - that we must prepare our
Under President Bulger's leadership, the five-campus University
has seen dramatic increases in private support, alumni activity,
research funding, and the academic scores of incoming freshmen.
President Bulger has also launched an award-winning television advertising
campaign featuring prominent alumni, and a scholarship program that
rewards students who finish at the top of their high school graduating
President Bulger's appointment by the University of Massachusetts
Board of Trustees followed his 35-year career as a leading state
lawmaker. From 1978 to 1996, he served as President of the Massachusetts
Senate, elected every two years by his colleagues. His tenure as
President was the longest in state history.
He was first elected to the Senate in 1970 representing the First
Suffolk District. Prior to serving in the Senate, he served in the
House of Representatives from 1961 to 1970. Throughout his legislative
career, Mr. Bulger played a pivotal leadership role in issues that
shaped the physical, cultural and social landscapes of Massachusetts.
During the 1960s, he led efforts to write the first child abuse
reporting laws in this state and during the following three decades
continued to focus much of his attention on the plight of children.
He was one of the architects of a groundbreaking education reform
law that reduced the funding inequities between rich and poor communities.
He was among the first advocates of charter schools and public school
choice. During the 1980s, he made funding of public libraries a
top priority and also advocated for the expansion of childhood nutrition
services and fuel assistance programs.
Under Mr. Bulger's leadership, Boston Common and the Public Garden
were beautified and protected. He secured funding to keep both parks
well lit at night, and he led the fight for a law prohibiting the
building of any skyscraper that would cast a shadow upon either.
He also won funding to beautify Castle Island in South Boston and
preserve the 19th-century fort there, while also securing funds
to help clean up the Boston Harbor.
President Bulger led the Senate through its debate on welfare reform
in the early 1990s, often reminding lawmakers that "after we
have eaten, we forget there is such a thing as hunger." The
resulting legislation, less punitive than some hoped, became the
model for a national law.
Mr. Bulger is a past president of the Boston Public Library Board
of Trustees and continues to serve on the board. He is also a member
of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Board of Overseers, Massachusetts
General Hospital Board of Trustees and the National Grid USA Advisory
He is a former member of the Museum of Fine Arts Board of Trustees
and the McLean Hospital Board of Trustees, overseer of the Children's
Museum in Boston, Citizens Bank of Massachusetts Board of Directors
and corporator of the Winsor School in Boston.
Upon is graduation from Boston College High School in 1952, President
Bulger enrolled at Boston College. His undergraduate career was
interrupted when he joined the United States Army in 1953. He returned
to Boston College in 1955 and completed his undergraduate degree
in English in 1958. He then entered Boston College Law School, from
which he received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1961.
Known for his independence of mind, regardless of the political
consequences, President Bulger has been singled out for special
recognition by one of the Commonwealth's most prestigious institutions.
In bestowing its 50th Anniversary Award upon President Bulger, Boston
College Law School described him as one "whose career reflects
great honor on the Law School."
President Bulger is the recipient of more than 20 honorary degrees
from institutions of higher learning.
Mr. Bulger is the author of the best selling political memoir,
"While the Music Lasts, My Life in Politics."
He was born on February 2, 1934, the son of James and Jane (McCarthy)
In 1960, he married Mary Foley. He continues to make his home in
South Boston where he and his wife of 41 years have raised their
nine children: William, James, Sara, Patrick, Mary, Daniel, Kathleen,
Christopher and Brendan.
There are now 19 grandchildren: Bridget Bulger, Monica Bulger,
Michael Hurley, Deirdre Hurley, Mary Hurley, Charles Webb, Ian Webb,
Alannah Bulger, Christopher Bulger, James Hurley, Patrick Bulger,
Thomas Bulger, William Webb, Grace Bulger, Elizabeth Hurley, Mary
Catherine Bulger, Brendan Webb, Margaret Bulger and Jean Marie Bulger.