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Mass. Gov. Wants UMass President to Go

February 27, 2003

BOSTON (AP) _ University of Massachusetts President William Bulger, under fire over his relationship with his mobster brother, could lose his job under a shake-up proposed Wednesday by Gov. Mitt Romney.

The restructuring plan would dismantle the 59,000-student university system, spinning off the flagship Amherst campus, privatizing three schools including the medical school in Worcester, and merging six campuses. Bulger and his 68-member office would be replaced with a new agency.

Romney, a Republican, said the plan would help save about $150 million.

Bulger, a Democrat who led the state Senate for 17 years, was not available for comment Wednesday. His spokesman Bill Wright said he had not seen specifics of the higher education plan but called it ``far-fetched.″

Romney has taken on Bulger before, saying he was disappointed by Bulger’s refusal in December to answer questions from a congressional panel about his brother, fugitive mob boss James ``Whitey″ Bulger.

But Romney said his proposal ``was not a political calculation, nor a personal one,″ and added, ``The same decision would have been reached regardless of the occupant.″

Under Romney’s proposal, the current five-campus system would be replaced with seven regional systems to work more closely with the nine state colleges, 15 community colleges and local businesses. Current chancellors would become presidents of their campuses.

The plan is part of the $22.85 billion proposed budget Romney unveiled Wednesday. The budget would close a $3 billion spending gap by laying off about 2,000 employees, reducing aid to cities and towns and perhaps cutting the state’s prescription drug program, among other changes.

``President Bulger knows better than anyone that a governor’s budget proposals are just that _ proposals,″ university spokesman Robert Connolly said.

Bulger left the state Senate in 1996 for the university post. The president’s office was created in 1970 and Bulger was appointed to the post by the school’s board of trustees. His contract runs through July 2007.

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