All three finalists for UMass Boston's chancellorship have dropped out of consideration.

The finalists were Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh, Peter Lyons, vice provost at Georgia State University, and Jack Thomas, president of Western Illinois University.

In a message to the UMass Boston community Monday, the president of the UMass system, Marty Meehan, said each finalist withdrew as a candidate over the weekend, following a seven-month search.

On Friday, the UMass Boston Faculty Council had questioned their qualifications, and Meehan said all three informed him of "extreme disappointment" with the public statement.

Meehan said he was "mortified" when the finalists were called unqualified in public forums.

"I have apologized personally to each of them on behalf of the campus community," Meehan wrote. "I know the majority of you do not support the sensationalized critiques of these candidates' professional and academic qualifications and accomplishments."

In a separate message, Henry Thomas, a UMass trustee who chaired the search committee, described the conduct of a small segment of the community as unconscionable and disrespectful.

"It is outrageous to see higher education leaders who were willing to put their careers and reputations on the line for a chance to join the UMass Boston community be subject to this kind of denigration," Thomas said in the statement.

Meehan said reopening the search right now would be futile, so he's asked Katherine Newman, senior vice president for academic affairs of the UMass system, to serve as interim chancellor for as long as needed.