The Codcast: Freeland rips UMass Amherst-Mt. Ida deal

Richard Freeland is a man of careful thought and measured words.

That made it noteworthy when the former state higher education commissioner and president emeritus of Northeastern University appeared at a recent hearing of the state Board of Higher Education and blasted the announcement that the University of Massachusetts Amherst planned to buy the Newton campus of Mt. Ida College. And it prompted us to invite Freeland to talk more about his concerns on The Codcast.

He said Mt. Ida students and faculty, who were blindsided by the school’s announced closure, have been “outrageously treated.” He said he focused his comments at the Board of Higher Education hearing on the UMass part of the story because no one has adequately answered the question of what the impact will be on UMass Boston from having the university’s flagship Amherst campus set up an outpost just miles from its Dorchester campus. He told the board he thinks the likely impact will be a “cannibalization” of enrollment at UMass Boston, which is already facing serious financial struggles.

Freeland, who also spent more than two decades as an administrator at UMass Boston, said UMass Amherst is part of a system of five campuses that were established in different parts of the state for good reason.

“On the face of it, it just doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense — other than the fact that it’s good for UMass Amherst,” he said of the acquisition. Freeland said he certainly understands the impulse of the Amherst campus to establish a foothold in the Boston area. “They’ve been concerned about the existence of the [UMass] Boston campus ever since it was established in the mid-1960s, which they devoutly hoped would never happen,” he said. “And once it did happen, they did things to try to weaken it and prevent it from developing.”

But the job of the UMass Board of Trustees, he said, is to look out for the welfare of the entire system.

“I’ve heard not a peep about the fact that they’ve even looked at the impact on the rest of the system,” said Freeland. “Quite honestly, it seemed to me reckless to go ahead and approve this without that examination having occurred.”

Gov. Charlie Baker’s education secretary, Jim Peyser, sits on the UMass board and voted for the purchase. “I’m disappointed in that,” said Freeland. He said Baker is governor of the whole state and should insist on a more complete analysis and demand that UMass “tell me why this is a good thing for the state, not just keep telling me why it’s a good thing for UMass Amherst.”

MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

The Senate passed legislation requiring credit bureaus to provide several years of credit reporting for free if a person’s data is hacked. (Eagle-Tribune)

New sensors at the State House are apparently causing lights in the building to stay on all night even after people turn them off in their offices and in rarely used closets. (Keller@Large)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Bourne selectmen placed an unnamed town employee on unpaid leave while confirming that the only employee they have oversight of and can discipline is the town administrator. (Cape Cod Times)

Former members of the commission that wrote the successful revision of Fall River’s voter-approved charter have formed a new group and hired a lawyer to force compliance with the charter. (Herald News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Comedian Michelle Wolf plays rough in her monologue at the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner. (New York Times) President Trump, who did not attend, called the dinner an “embarrassment.”

ELECTIONS

Gov. Charlie Baker easily won the Republican Party’s endorsement for governor, but he will face a challenge from far-right pastor Scott Lively. Baker’s partisan speech to the convention was very different from the collegial tone he typically uses on Beacon Hill. (CommonWealth)

The crowded field in the race to replace US Rep. Niki Tsongas in Congress debated in two shifts based on standing in a recent poll. (Lowell Sun) The debate had almost no fireworks, although a fight could be brewing over who is local and who is not. (Boston Globe)

John Bradley, a former Plymouth County prosecutor who filed a wrongful termination suit against District Attorney Timothy Cruz that was settled for nearly $250,000, has filed papers to run as an independent candidate against Cruz in November. (The Enterprise)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Sprint and T-Mobile have announced an agreement to merge with T-Mobile buying Sprint for $26.5 billion and the new company having a potential of 100 million customers, more than AT&T and just behind Verizon. (New York Times)

Many Cape Cod businesses are scrambling to find workers just weeks before the season is set to begin because of a change in allocating H-2B immigrant worker visas to a lottery system that has left many employers out of luck. (Cape Cod Times)

EDUCATION

Cost estimates for replacing Lowell High School come in at $345 million, less than many were expecting. (Lowell Sun)

A group of students at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School plan to stage a walkout this morning protesting what they say was an inadequate response of the school to an allegation of sexual assault at the school in 2013. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A report commissioned by the state’s hospital industry says a proposed ballot question mandating minimum nurse staffing levels would add almost $1 billion a year to health care costs in Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)

Two black nurses are suing Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, alleging they faced racial discrimination there. (Boston Globe)

Sen. John Keenan says the public is forced to clean up Big Pharma’s mess. (CommonWealth)

Alexander Pomerantz and Suhas Gondi say doctors should be armed with a tool that can save lives. (CommonWealth)

TRANSPORTATION

What needs to be done at Allston Landing is so obvious to Jim Aloisi that he asks: What am I missing? (CommonWealth)

Nicholas Christ and Dave Slutz of the SouthCoast Development Partnership say Aloisi is wrong when he says South Coast Rail, as currently envisioned, needs to be revised. (CommonWealth)

Worcester Regional Airport is adding flights, but still operating in the red. (Telegram & Gazette)

An East Boston company has developed “self-navigation” tools aimed at helping ships stay on course and avoid collisions and other ocean hazards. (Boston Herald)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

They’re calling it “poopgate” in Canton, where dog waste bags clogged a storm drain. (Boston.com) CommonWealth ran an in-depth feature on the problem recently, highlighting efforts by communities to crack down on stormwater pollution.

The Patriot Ledger revisits and tracks some of the problems and complaints from residents living near municipally owned wind turbines on the South Shore.

A Globe editorial says it’s hardly shocking that there is opposition in Maine to hydroelectricity towers and cables running through the state after similar concerns scuttled a plan to bring the Canadian power to Massachusetts through New Hampshire.

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

The new CEO of Wynn Resorts walked a tightrope on Friday in an appearance before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Matt Maddox insisted the Wynn brand is strong even as he said he wanted to take the name off the under-construction Everett casino and replace it with Encore. (CommonWealth)

As Wynn Resorts struggles to convince regulators it should be allowed to retain its casino license, the cost of the facility rises another $100 million. (CommonWealth)

At a Town Hall-style meeting in Peabody, US Rep. Seth Moulton said communities barring recreational marijuana sales within their borders are making a mistake. (Eagle-Tribune)

The Ashland School Committee, whose members were asked to issue a strong statement in support of a ban on recreational marijuana that is coming before Town Meeting, instead approved a statement that neither supported nor opposed the measure. (MetroWest Daily News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The New Bedford Standard-Times starts a two-part series on elder abuse, showing the number of elder abuse reports in Massachusetts is on the rise, with Bristol County having the highest rate of incidents in the state.

MBTA police have released a video of a woman they say assaulted a bus driver at the Braintree station and called him a racial epithet after she refused to pay her fare. (Patriot Ledger)

The family of a slain Maine sheriff’s deputy expresses thanks for the capture on Saturday of the suspect accused of killing the officer. (Boston Herald)

The judge in the federal murder trial getting started against Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme ruled that jurors will be allowed to head out on a trip to see the exterior of the Sharon house where the murder is alleged to have occurred. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

The Boston Globe has tapped former Associated Press editor Kathleen Carroll and Tom Fiedler, the dean of Boston University’s College of Communication, to oversee the investigation into allegations that Kevin Cullen, who has been put on leave, fabricated details in some of his columns about the Marathon bombings. (Media Nation).