Moody’s outlook for UMass improves

Calls acquisition of Mount Ida College ‘mildly credit positive’

A BOND RATING AGENCY issued a fairly rosy report Thursday on the five-campus University of Massachusetts system.

Moody’s Investors Service kept its UMass bond rating at Aa2, its third-highest level, but changed the outlook from negative to stable, suggesting the rating will remain stable for the next year to two years. The company said the improvement reflected expectations of steady enrollment, positive operating performance, and growth in financial resources.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Although UMass officials often gripe about lackluster state support, the report said another factor in the agency’s decision was “solid operating and capital support” from the state. Government aid accounts for 22 percent of UMass revenues, while the charges assessed on the system’s 64,530 students represent 40 percent.

The report said UMass Amherst’s proposed acquisition of Mount Ida College in Newton would be “mildly credit positive” for the university system. It noted the acquisition would not have a material impact on the system.

UMass’s chief challenges, according to Moody’s, are fundraising levels below those of its peers and declining numbers of high school graduates in Massachusetts. It said a decline in state aid would also weaken the university system’s credit status.