Meehan, UMass Boston faculty at war
The faculty at UMass Boston, angered and threatened by the purchase of Mount Ida College in Newton by UMass Amherst, retaliated by scuttling the search for a new chancellor at their own campus.
UMass President Marty Meehan announced on Monday that all three finalists for the Boston job had withdrawn their names from consideration after a faculty group had openly said they weren’t qualified. The three finalists were Kathy Humphrey, the senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the board of trustees at the University of Pittsburgh; Peter Lyons, the vice provost and dean of Perimeter College at Georgia State University; and Jack Thomas, president of Western Illinois University.
In a letter to the UMass Boston community, Meehan said he was “mortified when the candidates’ commitment and qualifications were questioned in public forums, including the news media and social media.” He said a new search, given the way this one ended, was “untenable at this time” and announced that Katherine Newman, senior vice president for academic affairs, would fill in as chancellor for what could be a rather lengthy interim basis.
Henry Thomas, the UMass trustee who led the search, issued a biting statement critical of the UMass Boston Faculty Council. “We find it particularly appalling that a faculty council representing a majority-minority campus but lacking a single African-American member would visit such disrespect and calumny on one of the country’s few African-American sitting college presidents, a top African-American female university leader, and an academic administrator from an institution that graduates more African-Americans than any college or university in the country,” he wrote.
Reyes Coll-Tellechea, a professor in the Latin American and Iberian Studies department, said a faculty consensus emerged after a meeting on Friday “We were very honest for each other who could really, really grab the hand of the campus and push it forward, and after talking for three hours we determined that none of those candidates were that person,” she told State House News Service.
The same faculty council that criticized the candidates for chancellor took a vote of no confidence last week in Meehan and the university trustees for their handling of the Mount Ida purchase. It seemed as if that decision, made without consulting the UMass Boston community, may have factored in the faculty’s position on the three candidates for UMass Boston chancellor.
“Over and over again the president and the board has forced us to go to the press because they won’t speak to us,” said Zong-Guo Xia, a geography professor at UMass Boston. “We for the life of us can’t get Marty Meehan to acknowledge us as a faculty.”
Schotten made a similar comment. “We hope this entire ordeal has conveyed to president Meehan some sense that it is in his interest to work with us,” she said.
Joe Battenfeld, a columnist for the Boston Herald, said Meehan faces the biggest test of his three-year tenure at the helm of the UMass system. “Meehan is used to nasty infighting — he was a member of Congress — but not even then did he face this level of dysfunction,” Battenfeld wrote.
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The Ethics Commission has fined the executive director of the Hingham Housing Authority for violating state conflict of interest laws by approving and signing payments to a company she co-founded without disclosing her relationship with the company. (Patriot Ledger)
Some of President Trump’s tweets, even those that seem to carry his hallmark lack of fidelity to proper grammar, spelling, or rules of capitalization, are written by staffers trying to mimic his style. (Boston Globe)
The White House has brokered a deal with the Justice Department that will allow congressional Republicans to view some of the classified documents in the Russia election meddling investigation. (New York Times)
State Auditor Suzanne Bump endorses Jay Gonzalez for governor and does what most Democrats seem wary of doing — criticize Gov. Charlie Baker. “Jay isn’t afraid to be bold and to respond to hard questions with intelligence, candor, and compassion,” Bump said in a statement. “Jay is forthright on the issues that affect our lives—like supporting a $15 minimum wage and paid family and medical leave. He doesn’t hedge his bets or wait on the sidelines. He is a true leader, which our incumbent is not.” (State House News)
Civil rights icon John Lewis is famous for challenging authority, but the Georgia congressman’s endorsement of fellow House member Michael Capuano in his primary race with Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley reflects a nod to the status quo, says Joan Vennochi. (Boston Globe)
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Conservative political analyst William Kristol floats Gov. Charlie Baker’s name as a would-be primary challenger to President Trump; Baker’s team swats down any such talk. (Boston Herald)
The Yawkey purge continues: The Boston Red Sox took down plaques honoring former owner Tom Yawkey and former general manager Eddie Collins that were outside the team’s administrative offices at Fenway Park. (CommonWealth)
Four bidders are now vying to purchase iconic candy company Necco, which is in bankruptcy. (Boston Globe)
Cynthia Paris, the assistant superintendent of the Newton schools, was selected as the superintendent of the Lawrence schools. Her appointment still needs the approval of Jeff Riley, the state education commissioner and the former Lawrence schools chief. (Eagle-Tribune)
Taunton officials closed the high school and middle school on Tuesday after a “threatening note” was found late Monday by a high school teacher. (Taunton Gazette)
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Quincy College is dropping its appeal of the state’s decertification of the school’s nursing program. (Patriot Ledger)
The state is considering having the essay portion of MCAS exams graded by computers. (Boston Globe)
Massasoit Community College has tapped Gina Glickman, president of Manchester Community College in Connecticut, to become the Brockton school’s first female president. (The Enterprise)
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Lowell officials say rising levels of overdoses among cocaines users lead them to suspect that fentanyl has been added to the cocaine. (Lowell Sun)
The MBTA approves a $10 pass for this summer that entitles the holder to take unlimited weekend rides on the commuter rail system and bring along two children 11 years old or younger. (CommonWealth)
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A Salem News editorial says the citizens of Massachusetts deserve an explanation for why Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley ordered no jail time for an admitted heroin dealer.
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A special education teacher in Andover claims she was fired because of the cost of her son’s cancer treatments. (Eagle-Tribune)PASSINGS
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