Roxbury Native, Alumnus Elected Chair of Wentworth Board

December 9, 2019

Greg Janey has gone far while staying close to home.

Fifteen years after earning a bachelor’s degree at Wentworth Institute of Technology, the Roxbury native has been elected chair of the university’s Board of Trustees—the top governing position at the school. Wentworth is less than two miles from the neighborhood where Janey grew up riding his bicycle on summer days like any other kid from the block.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to help spread the word about Wentworth and keep the university moving forward,” he said.

The president and owner of Janey Construction Management and Consulting Inc. is a twin, in the middle of six siblings who lived on Regent Street in Roxbury with an educator-homemaker for a mother and a father who was a salesman and established a court reporting business where Janey’s younger brother works today.

Janey, 57, attributes his business success to hard work and his Wentworth education, which instilled in him a deep commitment to higher learning and determination to help others get into and graduate from the university.

“I’m proud of where I came from and thankful for the education and support that I’ve received,” he says. “And I want other people to have that same opportunity.”

Janey received an associate degree in architectural technology from the institute in 1982, stuck with his studies at Wentworth and launched his business with his cousin in Dorchester in 1984. Janey recalls that their office then was a kitchen table. Juggling work and school while keeping the new business afloat, he completed the requirements for his bachelor’s in construction management from Wentworth in 2004. In 2017, in a sign of how far he had come, the university asked Janey to give the keynote address at commencement and awarded him an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree.

Janey is the first African American to chair Wentworth’s board, which he joined in 2013 after serving a couple years as a corporator at the institute. He’s been an adjunct professor at Wentworth and chaired the campus-wide Presidential Search Committee that in March 2019 selected Wentworth’s current president, Mark A. Thompson. Janey had been serving as vice chair of the Board of Trustees.

“Greg is passionate about Wentworth, about its learning model and the role it plays in young people’s success,” said Thompson. “We are lucky to have him in this role.”

But while his reputation, popularity and campus involvement have grown across the years, Janey’s personal mission has stayed consistent—to use his Wentworth education, success, and professional experience to provide opportunities for residents in and around the neighborhood where he grew up. Janey endowed a scholarship fund at Wentworth and has long advocated for the Center for Community & Learning Partnerships’ Boston Pipeline initiatives, designed to prepare students in the Boston Public Schools system to attend Wentworth and keep local teens in school and focused on higher education and careers.​

Janey has a master’s degree in civil engineering from Northeastern University. He is a past president of the Massachusetts division of the Construction Management Association of America and was vice chair of CMAA’s national board. He is also a program evaluator for ABET, which accredits college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.

He has more than 30 years’ experience in his field, with work ranging from residential to commercial projects worth $5 million to $500 million.

But his success wasn’t preordained for him or others growing up in the city amid the social unrest and economic inequality of the 1960s and ‘70s, says Janey. Like him, many came from supportive homes and had role models in the community but lacked opportunity.

Janey was feeling constrained and unmotivated by traditional classroom learning until he caught a break at Boston Technical High School, where a graphics teacher suggested that Janey might like the doer-maker, practical approach to learning at Wentworth. Janey bit. He enrolled at the university. He got into working on projects outside of the classroom with other students. And he found that he liked the collaboration and sense of accomplishment that came with finishing a project and seeing results.

“My sense of belonging came from that,” he says. “That’s what Wentworth does, and I believe that everyone who comes to Wentworth should have that sense of belonging.”

That vision seems ideally aligned with the strategic planning process initiated by President Thompson at Wentworth, the principal goal of which is to grow “inclusive excellence” across the institution.

Janey takes over from P. Michael Masterson, who has served as chair of the board for four transformative years at Wentworth, during which the institute built the Center for Engineering, Innovation and Sciences, became a university and underwent a presidential transition. In addition to Janey’s election, there have been other recent changes to the Board of Trustees. Several veteran Board members have taken on new responsibilities: Jerome H. Casey, the former president and chief operating officer of Sekisui Diagnostics, is now vice chair of the board; Robert C. Murray, president of BOND, is treasurer; and Wentworth alumnus Ryan E. Hutchins, a senior vice president and regional manager for Gilbane Building Co., is the new secretary.

--Dennis Nealon

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