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UMass President Marty Meehan announced on Monday that all three finalists for the Boston job had withdrawn their names from consideration after a faculty group had openly said they weren’t qualified.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.

Faculty members did not back down. Heike Schotten, a political science professor who will chair the faculty council next year, said Thomas’s suggestion that “antiblack animus” motivated the group was shocking and outrageous. She and several of her colleagues said the problem was that not enough faculty members were on the chancellor search committee (two of the 15 were faculty members) and that Meehan was trying to rush the selection through (Meehan labeled the seven-month search “an exhaustive, rigorous review”).

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.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

A new report from MassINC said prison spending is up even as the number of inmates is declining. (Salem News)

A gun bill coming up for a vote in the House would subject stun guns to the same licensing requirements as regular guns. (State House News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Quincy City Council unanimously approved an ordinance banning commercial traffic on streets in the Squantum neighborhood, a move designed to thwart Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s plan to rebuild Long Island Bridge and create a drug addiction recovery campus on the harbor island. (Patriot Ledger)

The Boston City Council appears split on the mayor’s proposal for regulating short-term rentals, with several saying a ban on units owned by investors is too restrictive. (WBUR)

New Bedford has filed suit against ABC Disposal for charging the city more than $189,000 above the contract price. ABC claims the higher bill was prompted by China’s decision to change which and what kind of recyclables it will accept, which put the firm in a dire economic position. City officials say the company assumed the risk when it entered into the contract. (Standard-Times)

An investigator’s report for the town of Ashland says a police sergeant who is on paid leave left the department undermanned and without leadership when he left his post early and was later seen on video having two cocktails at a nearby bar during his shift. (MetroWest Daily News)

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)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

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)

ELECTIONS

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)

Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim, who has criticized Secretary of State William Galvin, whom he is challenging, for having employees of his office do work for his campaign during business hours, had help during business hours from members of his council staff during last year’s city election. (Boston Globe)

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)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

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)

EDUCATION

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)

A Globe editorial says there are lots more unanswered questions for Barry Brown, the president of now-shuttered Mount Ida College, in the wake of reports about a $16 million loan the school obtained from nonprofit that Brown served as a trustee for. Carlos Santiago, the commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, said there have been 15 Mount Idas over the last five years. (MassLive)

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)

New studies including one by a Harvard University economist suggest students who develop strong bonds with a teacher score higher on exams. (U.S. News & World Report)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Lowell officials say rising levels of overdoses among cocaines users lead them to suspect that fentanyl has been added to the cocaine. (Lowell Sun)

TRANSPORTATION

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)

T notes: Pension costs raise concerns; the T hires Citizens Bank and expects its interest income to rise by $1 million a year; a program manager is hired to oversee the development of a new automated fare collection system. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Sen. Edward Markey has called on Congress to reinstate the oil export ban, claiming the outflow is a major reason behind the increase of gas prices. (State House News)

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, says Massachusetts can continue to play a leadership role in addressing climate change by enacting legislation pending on Beacon Hill to divest state pension funds from fossil fuels and set a statewide price on carbon emissions. (Boston Globe)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Voters at Swansea Town Meeting approved zoning changes to allow retail recreational marijuana in the manufacturing zone and permit two stores in the community. (Herald News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

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.

Federal judges in Boston are frequently questioning the tactics and policies of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, steps that the US attorney says sometimes reflect their animus toward the Trump administration, not a proper reading of the law. (Boston Globe)

A special education teacher in Andover claims she was fired because of the cost of her son’s cancer treatments. (Eagle-Tribune)

PASSINGS

Richard Goodwin, a pivotal player in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, died Sunday at his home in Concord at age 86. (Boston Globe)