The Boston-area real estate lawyer talks about lifelong University of Massachusetts Amherst friends and his work for the UMass Foundation.
I was the classic freshman when I went to college, trying to figure out where I wanted to go in life. And they said we had to pick a major. I always had interest in history and politics. And they recommended, of course, either history or what was then referred to as government. Government today is the major referred to as political science. Back in 1966, the university began to think about establishing the first honors program. This was the letter where I was selected to participate in the honors program. Not everybody made it through. Only about two thirds made it through. It seemed like law school was relatively straightforward compared to the work I had been put through at UMass. It was reflective of what the university was able to do at the economic level. I have been active on the campus for the past 15 years. And it's a marvel to see the transition. Here today on the campus, the larger complaint is you can't walk from one place to another in a straight line because there are so many new structures. We would have really loved to have seen that opportunity. We could walk anywhere we wanted in a straight line because there weren't that many buildings. This is the southwest area. You could see the sidewalks are all nice and clean and white because everything was brand new. If you walk through that campus and compare it to any private or public university, and it's really extraordinary to see the developments. What I think about when I think about UMass is the gift it's given to me for the past 50 years, which is the benefit of long-term relationships. So we're all standing in line because there's hundreds, if not thousands, of us trying to figure out where to go and what to do. And I spot Jerry because he looked familiar to me. We're both from Newton. We'd seen each other somewhere in the community. I said, "Do you have a roommate?" He said, "No." I said, "Want to room together?" "Fine." So we did. And it was fun. Jerry, he's a camera hound. If he knows there is a camera around, he'll find it. Yeah, right. I knew there was a camera. That's why I came over. I've known him for now 50 years because of UMass. We see each other regularly. And that's repeated by probably a dozen other people. The university presented me with opportunities that I never envisioned that I would likely have because I didn't know they existed. That university is a place that I owe much to and continue to try to do what I can to pay back. My name is Henry Barr, founding partner of the law firm of Barr & Cole. I stand for respect, and I stand for UMass.