Martin T. Meehan acknowledged applause during his inauguration as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell yesterday. Governor Deval Patrick and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood behind him. (Mark Wilson/Globe Staff)
"Meehan is inaugurated at UMass-Lowell: Chancellor vows to hike enrollment"
By David Abel, (Boston) Globe Staff, April 5, 2008
Nine months after taking over, Martin T. Meehan was inaugurated yesterday as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, pledging to boost student enrollment, diversity, and the number of students living on campus.
The weeklong inauguration festivities, which included encomiums yesterday by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Governor Deval Patrick, raised more than $1 million for student scholarships, university officials said.
"Our new vision involves taking a strong research university to the next level toward wider opportunities for our students, increased engagement with our community, and heightened excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship," Meehan said.
Meehan, who became chancellor on July 1, said he plans to increase student enrollment by 2.5 percent per year, increase to half the number of students living on campus, improve the diversity of the student body and the number of female students studying math and science, and ensure that new and renovated buildings meet the highest environmental standards.
The 51-year-old former congressman, who represented the state's Fifth Congressional District between 1993 and 2007, became the second chancellor and 14th leader of UMass-Lowell and its predecessor schools, which were founded in the 1890s. The University of Lowell was created in 1975 through the merger of Lowell State College and Lowell Technological Institute. The campus became part of the University of Massachusetts system in 1991.
The school, which now enrolls more than 11,600 students, has a $220 million operating budget that supports 88 undergraduate and graduate degree programs at its five colleges. Many of the students commute to campus.
A native of Lowell, Meehan graduated from the campus in 1978, where he studied education and political science. He was the first in his family to attend college.
Since taking over, he has vowed to build new academic buildings, increase student aid, and recruit students from beyond the Merrimack Valley. About 19 percent of undergraduates and 12 percent of graduate students are members of minority groups. He also plans to seek international students; about 1 percent of the campus population is from abroad.
"The majority of our graduates stay here to work and raise families, to create businesses and jobs, to contribute to civic and cultural life," he said. "The role that this university plays in the development of the intellect and character of our students cannot be overstated."
At the initiation ceremony yesterday, Meehan received praise from students, faculty, and a host of politicians.
"Chancellor Meehan knows the value of public higher education and the value of the institution to the city and the Commonwealth," Governor Deval Patrick said. "We share the vision of making public higher education in Massachusetts second to none in the nation."
Pelosi said she expected Meehan - who left Congress with a $5 million campaign fund, the biggest in the House - to hit her and her colleagues up for money.
"He will bring to UMass-Lowell the same hard work and determination he brought to his outstanding service in Washington," she said.
David Abel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Meehan sets his fund-raising skills in motion:Scholarships target of weeklong event at UMass-Lowell"
By Eric Moskowitz, (Boston) Globe Staff, March 29, 2008
Martin T. Meehan could always raise money with the best. He left Congress last year with a $5 million campaign fund, the biggest in the House and more than the amount Edward J. Markey, Barney Frank, and William D. Delahunt held combined.
Now, as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Meehan is using his fund-raising clout again, this time to provide money for scholarships and to sponsor a weeklong inaugural.
"We're going to make more money for scholarships than any inauguration of a president has in any college or university, any public college or university, in Massachusetts history," Meehan said. "We're well over half a million now. It's going to go up."
Meehan took over the job in July. On Monday, the school will unveil the "Martin T. Meehan: Vision, Courage, and Service" exhibit at the start of the celebration, which will culminate Friday with a ceremony keynoted by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. There's also a $100-a-person inaugural concert and reception, a $1,000-a-head inaugural gala, an inauguration ceremony, and a postinauguration reception.
About 30 companies, charities, and individuals have given at least $10,000 for the cause, including Charles J. Hoff, the $50,000 lead sponsor, and Meehan himself, who gave $10,000. For Hoff, an alumnus who served on the panel that chose Meehan, the gift is in addition to $3 million he contributed last September.
Patricia McCafferty, a spokeswoman for UMass-Lowell, said last night that approximately $650,000 of the money raised will go toward scholarships. Another $50,000 will be used on inaugural events. In addition, the organizers are receiving an in-kind contribution, food costs, of approximately $25,000 from Aramark, a food service company based in Philadelphia.
Donors are being asked to contribute either to a music education endowment or to the Chancellor Martin T. Meehan Educational Excellence Endowment Fund. Meehan, a graduate of UMass-Lowell, wants to build a more diverse student body and to reinforce the local mission of the university, which he said "has a profound effect on individual lives."
"Part of my strategic plan is to aggressively attract a wider breadth of students, and we're going to use this scholarship fund to do that," said Meehan, who left Congress after 7 1/2 terms representing the Fifth District. "We're going to grow," he said.
UMass-Lowell officials are wary of the criticism of past inaugurations in the state. Lawmakers were unhappy about an inaugural week at UMass-Boston in 2006 that cost $512,525, nearly one-fourth of which was paid for with public funding, and featured a dinner of seared scallops and roasted filet of beef at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum.
Next week's event will be different, said McCafferty, cochairwoman of the on-campus inaugural steering committee and public affairs director for UMass-Lowell. With the exception of a reception at LeLacheur Park, every event is being held at campus facilities; most are free and open to the public. The concert features faculty and student performances. The $1,000 gala has no dress code.
The events span the university, like a Graduate School of Education lecture with author and activist Jonathan Kozol and a panel on climate change moderated by television meteorologist Mish Michaels. Some others are yearly university events that have been scheduled to coincide with the inauguration. Campus monitors will flash highlights of student and alumni achievements all week.
Meehan has won praise from university officials for his energetic start as chancellor. In an interview yesterday, he said he finds it easier and more rewarding to solicit donations for a university than for a political bid and not just because there are no campaign-finance restrictions.
"You're appealing in many instances to alums who feel so strongly about the university, and you're really talking and thinking about their legacy," said Meehan.
Drawing from his network of contacts, Meehan is also soliciting people who are not alumni, as well as businesses and charities that have either not contributed to the university before or have contributed smaller amounts. The top inaugural sponsors include Raytheon, the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, and the Demoulas Foundation.
The sponsor list dwarfs the one from the most recent UMass-Amherst inauguration for John V. Lombardi in 2003. Then, one donor, Accenture, gave $25,000 for scholarships, while a handful of corporations and individuals contributed $5,000 or $10,000.
George Behrakis, honorary inaugural cochairman, is one of Lowell's $25,000 sponsors. The 74-year-old Lowell native and pharmaceutical magnate has contributed millions of dollars in recent years to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and Northeastern University, where he is an alumnus and trustee. But Behrakis, who lives 5 miles from UMass-Lowell and has relatives who went there, had been involved with the local school only intermittently in the past. Enter Meehan, to whom Behrakis had contributed more than $11,000 for campaigns.
"If you don't ask, you get nothing," Behrakis said of his philanthropic philosophy. The Tewksbury resident, who sold Muro Pharmaceutical Inc. a decade ago and now invests in real estate and biotech start-ups, said he was happy to support UMass-Lowell because he believes in Meehan's vision.
"I've got full confidence in his ability to really get this school into the top tier," Behrakis said. "Why can't UMass-Lowell flourish? I mean, we have UMass-Amherst, so what? Look at California."
Born out of a merger between Lowell Tech and Lowell State and formerly called the University of Lowell, UMass-Lowell has a reputation for providing quality, affordable higher education to local students. Meehan, who graduated in 1978, was typical: a first-generation college student from a working-class Lowell family.
The school hasn't built an academic building since Meehan was an undergraduate and hasn't added a residence hall since the 1980s. The new chancellor plans to change that. He also wants to increase student aid, boost minority enrollment - 19 percent of undergraduates and 12 percent of graduate students identify themselves as minority - and recruit students from well beyond the Merrimack Valley. He wants to market abroad a school that has an international undergraduate population of 1 percent.
State Representative Kevin J. Murphy criticized the UMass-Boston event two years ago as "ridiculous," akin to "crowning a king."
Murphy, a Lowell Democrat, said this is different. The budgeting, he said, is efficient, and Meehan is a strong fund-raiser.
"Do better by public colleges"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Like most states, Massachusetts doesn't have much money to spare in this tough economic climate, but unlike most states, Massachusetts isn't finding sufficient money anyway to spend on public education. According to a recently released report by the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University, Massachusetts ranks 49th and 46th respectively in education spending as a percentage of personal income and by population, which is embarrassing for a state that has always been associated with education. This translates to higher tuition and fees for students, a crumbling infrastructure and a workforce unprepared for today's demanding job market, which adversely affects local businesses. The state must do better by schools like MCLA and BCC, and legislation sponsored by Rep. John Tierney, a Massachusetts Democrat, requiring states to maintain a specific level of education funding at the risk of losing some federal assistance if they do not, may provide that impetus.
August 7, 2008
Dear Berkshire Eagle, et al,
The reason why Massachusetts does not have much money is because it all gets sucked up into the black hole known as "the BIG DIG" in Boston. Moreover, Massachusetts created and now administers an UNFUNDED MANDATE in its flawed "Healthcare Reform" law that was infamously passed as a false pretense to send Governor Willard Mitt Romney to The White House. Well, the joke is on both the former Governor and the state government he further indebted. Massachusetts is the highest per capita - that means per person - debtor state in the nation. Several decades ago the commonwealth ranked #1 in tax burden ("Taxachusetts"), now it is #1 in debt burden by population!
(A Boston) GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Taxachusetts no more", August 11, 2008
EFFORTS TO tamp down antitax sentiment in Massachusetts got an unexpected boost last week: the small-government advocates at the National Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C., issued a report showing that the state's tax burden has dropped a few notches this year. The epithet "Taxachusetts" has been difficult to shake, but the foundation report ranks the state 23d out of 50 for the bite state and local taxes take out of a resident's paycheck. That's just about the middle by anyone's calculation.
As incomes rise and taxes remain fairly stable, Massachusetts' standing improves. The report shows the tax burden here declining steadily since 2005, when Massachusetts ranked 18th among the states. Back in 1980, the year a property tax revolt fueled passage of Proposition 2 1/2, the state ranked second, just behind New York.
States with higher tax burdens include many considered competitors for jobs and skilled workers: California, North Carolina, and Virginia, for example. New Jersey has the highest tax burden of all.
To avoid statistical distortions, it is important to calculate taxes as a proportion of personal income, instead of just per person. States with lower incomes than Massachusetts may have somewhat lower tax rates, but the tax bill hurts more for poorer residents of Arkansas (which ranks 14th for tax burden) or Georgia (16th). It is somewhat akin to the wind-chill factor: the temperature (raw data) may say one thing, but what matters is how much the cold hurts.
In November, voters will be faced with a ballot question to eliminate the state income tax. The tax foundation's report shows Massachusetts moving in the right direction. It should help inform a debate based on facts, not slogans.
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
- I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at email@example.com
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