Hampshire college bickering continues, leaving students as a footnote

Financially insecure Hampshire College is hit with another blow with the recent resignation of two trustees amid inner board squabbling. The one thing missing from the story is transparency, and who more than students will suffer from it?

Mingda Zhao, who is also an alumnus, stepped down Tuesday, saying he was forced out, and exposing some of the behind the scenes debate on what to do with the college. His resignation letter says the group is pushing for the school to close and be acquired by another academic institution.

President Miriam Nelson said in January that the institution is experiencing financial difficulties and is in search of a merger. UMass Amherst terminated its interested in that following Nelson’s announcement.

Fall enrollment fell by 15 percent from 2015 to 2018, and officials are not enrolling a full class this coming fall.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette obtained Zhao’s resignation letter, which alleges “bullying and fear tactics” by college leadership, and says he was accused of breaching confidentiality when he reached out to the presidents of Smith, Amherst, and Mount Holyoke colleges.

Zhao says he contacted those presidents to verify a claim from Nelson that those colleges were considering dropping Hampshire from their captive insurance company, which would throw Hampshire into deeper financial currents. Nelson declined to comment on the matter to the Gazette.

Board vice chairman Kim Saal and Fraser Beede, the chairman of the board’s trusteeship and governance committee, countered that a board member (without naming Zhao) resigned after “a significant breach of confidentiality … done without authorization of then Board Chair Gaye Hill.”

Hill resigned on Monday because of what she described as “vitriol” and slander against herself and her colleagues.

Whether or not Hampshire continues its independent existence, or is closed permanently weighs heavily on students, faculty, and staff.

While it’s no surprise that the college has been cash strapped for years, it is imperative that transparency and decorum exist in the attempt to find a solution for the one-of-a-kind institution.

This is a lesson not learned during and after the closure of Mount Ida College in Newton when the school shuttered last year without a transition plan for incoming students. A year later, a lawsuit is pending against its trustees and top-decision makers with none other than students as plaintiffs.

-SARAH BETANCOURT


BEACON HILL

A Berkshire Eagle editorial endorses a tax on sugary drinks.

The Eagle-Tribune editorializes in favor of granting police primary enforcement over seatbelt violations as well as training and equipping police to collect more data – which has been an ask of those concerned about racial profiling risks.

Sen. Barry Finegold told the Lawrence City Council that policymakers need to find a way to reduce rents but he is not convinced that rent control is the right answer. (Eagle-Tribune)

A supermarket trade group says it could back a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags under the right conditions. (Associated Press)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Attorney General Maura Healey says the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station’s prospective owner, Holtec International, has not provided enough financial information for a transfer decision to be made. The 46-year-old reactor is set to power down permanently May 26. (Cape Cod Times)

Provincetown residents are authorizing their select board to negotiate a lease with Eversource, which plans to put a battery storage facility at the town transfer station. The 25-megawatt storage facility could help reduce power outages and keep lights on longer in town when the power does go out, town and Eversource officials say. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

After vowing last week to unveil a superior plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, which his administration is seeking to overturn in federal court, President Trump backtracked and said there would be no Republican plan until after the 2020 election, one of several zigzags he’s made that underscore his “struggle to pursue a coherent domestic agenda in a divided Washington.” (Washington Post)

Who is Lori Lightfoot, the newly elected black, gay mayor of Chicago? (Governing)

Following the ruckus over a Trump administration proposal to slash funding for the Special Olympics, Jeff Jacoby says the organization does great work but shouldn’t rely on any federal money. (Boston Globe)

ELECTIONS

Count Globe columnist Renée Graham among those not too taken with fast-rising Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg.

Following visits to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, Congressman Seth Moulton plans to meet with Democrats in Nevada as he considers running for president. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Boston City Councilor Mark Ciommo said he won’t seek reelection this fall, becoming the third member of the 13-person council to make such an announcement. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Martha Coakley, the former attorney general, is joining the government affairs staff of Juul, the e-cigarette company that has come under fire from current Attorney General Maura Healey. (Politico)

The gender pay gap hits Latina women hard, with women in the demographic making less in Massachusetts than the nationwide average.. (CommonWealth)

Amazon will open an office with 200 employees in Medford to work on its Alexa voice-operated systems. (Boston Globe)

The Quincy City Council has approved developer William Locke Jr. to build the 269 apartments for Quarry Hills II, in a $82 million project near the former quarries in West Quincy. (Patriot Ledger)

EDUCATION

Mayor Marty Walsh announces that Boston will devote $15 million a year to pre-kindergarten programs, ensuring that quality preschool seats are available to all four-year-old children in the city within five years. (Boston Globe)

Clark University doesn’t intend to strip the name of its benefactor — Arthur Sackler — off the school’s science center, even though the Sackler name has been tied to the opioid crisis through ties to Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin. The university says other members of the Sackler family have come under fire for the actions of Purdue Pharma. (Telegram & Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

In Marlborough today, organizations established to help law enforcement and the pharmaceutical industry will showcase a mock bedroom designed to look like one belonging to a teenager suffering from drug addiction. The mock bedroom was recently in New Hampshire, where officials observed secret hiding places, discarded syringe caps, and other warning signs for parents. (Seacoastonline)

The state Department of Correction has begun offering medication to treat opioid addiction to inmates, inaugurating a policy included in last year’s sweeping criminal justice reform bill. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

At $462,000 apiece, the Lowell Regional Transit Authority is refreshing its bus fleet, bringing on seven new models to replace buses from 2007. Five more new buses are expected in October, and another eight should arrive next year. (Lowell Sun)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Congressman Seth Moulton said Columbia Gas “should be out of business” when he testified alongside Congresswoman Lori Trahan to ask their colleagues to add safety requirements to federal gas pipeline law. (WBUR)

Miami Beach is not so slowly sinking into the sea, but realtors sell property as if it will be there forever. (Popula)

Lawmakers from the Merrimack Valley area have proposed various new requirements to keep sewage treatment facilities up and running during power outages, and alert the public when sewage is dumped into local water bodies. (Salem News)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

A report issued by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission cites “significant, repetitive” failures at Wynn Resorts in dealing with Steve Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct. (CommonWealth)

The report also explains how Wynn covered his tracks. (CommonWealth) Joe Battenfeld thinks the company will get to keep its Everett casino license, but wonders how it can be a completely different firm from the one its disgraced founder led when its new CEO was a top Steve Wynn confidant. (Boston Herald)

Following a recent Spotlight report, the Globe zeros in on another company that seems to be working all the angles to try to get around state limits on how many marijuana selling licenses a firm can control.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The federal criminal trial of John Kapoor and four of his former employees at Insys is nearing a turning point as the defense could begin presenting its case on Monday. The pharmaceutical executives are accused of breaking laws to push their opioid on patients. (WGBH)

MEDIA

The Cleveland Plain Dealer laid off 14 newsroom employees, a third of the paper’s unionized news-gathering staff. (Cleveland.com)

Apple News Plus, where users pay one fee to gain access to much of the content of lots of publications, attracts the Wall Street Journal and many other publications, but the New York Times and Washington Post say they want to grow readership on their own. (New York Times)