Barbara Howard: All three finalists for the job of UMass Boston chancellor have now withdrawn from consideration, the latest in a series of problems at the top at the university. With us to explain what happened is Kirk Carapezza, from the WGBH higher education desk. Hi Kirk.
Carapezza: Hey Barbara.
Howard: So there were three candidates for that UMass Boston job, there were Peter Lyons, a provost at Perimeter College at Georgia State University; Jack Thomas, president of Western Illinois University, and Katherine Humphrey, one of the chancellors at the University of Pittsburgh. Why have they pulled out?
Carapezza: In a scathing message sent to the UMass Boston community, UMass President Marty Meehan says each candidate told him over the weekend that they were extremely disappointed in having their academic credentials openly questioned, and they were no longer interested in being considered for the job.
Howard: What's he talking about in terms of being raked over the coals, their credentials?
Carapezza: Last week, all three candidates came to the Dorchester campus on Columbia Point to meet with the community and answer questions. Then late on Friday a group of faculty made their criticism public, saying all three candidates were unqualified to lead the university which, as has been well-documented, is facing significant cuts and layoffs. Some faculty took to social media. A press release was sent out, and the candidates qualifications were openly questioned.
Howard: This is just the latest example of tensions between UMass Boston faculty and the UMass system overall – Marty Meehan’s system.
Carapezza: That’s right – morale at UMass Boston is pretty low right now. Many on campus feel like the system has starved them of resources.
Early last week, faculty voted no confidence in Meehan after he struck a deal for UMass Amherst to acquire Mount Ida College in Newton. Some students and faculty have told me that they feel that that deal is going to undermine their urban mission and siphon away potential students.
Howard: So now that the withdrawals are in, what's been the response of the faculty there?
Carapezza: Faculty say Meehan’s message is really just an effort to control the narrative. They said they're not a small group, as he's portrayed them, but a large one that is very concerned about the future of the university.
Howard: What's going to happen now as far as the search for a new chancellor goes?
Carapezza: Meehan says it's over, at least for now. He says reopening the search as some faculty have suggested would be useless. 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.
Howard: OK, I'm sure you'll be keeping an eye on it for us, Kirk.
Carapezza: We will.
Howard: That's Kirk Carapezza from WGBH’s higher education desk, talking with us about the search for a new chancellor at UMass Boston. Three finalists had been named but all three have now pulled out.