UMass Boston’s Dr. Evil

Interim chancellor acknowledged controversial cuts

“I AM NOW Dr. Evil,” said Barry Mills after it was reported that he planned to shut down the daycare center at the University of Massachusetts Boston as part of an effort to rein in costs at the campus.

Brought in as interim chancellor to right the university’s finances, Mills made the comment in an email to the school’s provost on July 7, shortly after the Boston Globe disclosed the daycare center was on the chopping block. The email and others obtained under the Public Records Law illustrate how the former Bowdoin College president navigated the controversy over the daycare center, which was shuttered in December.

Mills expressed confidence his approach on the daycare center would prevail in a July 6 email to UMass spokesman Robert Connolly, in part because he thought no one would overrule him. “Marty [Meehan, the UMass president], he is fine; trustees, they will be fine; governor, he will keep his head down,” he wrote.

A few days later, Mills acknowledged the tradeoffs he was facing. “I am thinking about more brutal, less strategic approaches to put this budget issue behind us—across the board layoffs of some percent. I doubt I will get there,” he wrote to Connolly on July 15.

Connolly suggested to Mills on July 16 that he praise the chancellors of the other UMass schools at an upcoming meeting of the board of trustees.  “No interest in stroking other chancellors,” he responds.  “They run breakeven and raise no money.”

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Mills is scheduled to step down as interim chancellor in June.