Braking on UMass-Meehan Spending
Thank God someone is reining in the University of Massachusetts and its president Marty Meehan’s out-of control spending that balances the books on the backs of those who can least afford it. Money’s tight, yet he can always find the funds to create positions that pay $100,000 and $200,000 at a whack.
Kudos to Rep. Tackey Chan (D-Quincy), who fired the first volley when the House debated UMass’s budget on the need for greater cost control. He suggested in an amendment to the budget that 10% be cut from those high-priced administrators for a savings of about $5 million, which could go to supporting the institutes that are on the brink of being gutted.
Rep. Chan’s amendment didn’t go far, but his message sure did — that the first line of cuts need to come from the top.
But that’s not the way it works in Meehan’s universe. Those who earn $50K and below are the first to be asked to sacrifice, with suggestions such as raising one’s own salary or paying triple parking fees.
The freeze on tuition proposed by the Ways and Means panel had to be a relief and much-needed rescue for the beleaguered students. There have been a litany of bad choices by the Meehan administration, and the students and teachers have had to bear the brunt. Add to that the fact that there is bound to be an impact from the purchase of Mount Ida College by UMass Amherst, a college just 15 miles from UMass Boston. But who knows and who cares — the money monster must be fed. By the way, did state funds help pay for that purchase?
Now that students can no longer be squeezed for every cent they don’t have, the money vice may next be tightened on the teachers, the centers and the institutes.
But Sen. Nick Collins, whose district includes UMass Boston, isn’t having it, and he isn’t alone. He added an amendment to both last year’s and this year’s budget, securing protections for the university’s institutes. In addition, this year’s UMass Boston budget was increased by $10 million, some of which Collins said could have easily closed the centers’ less than $2 million deficit.
The world-renowned Mauricio Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy just received a $1 million grant for its work. I wonder how much of a cut UMass will require?
The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy began as a separate expenditure, championed by the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators.
CWPPP grants certificates and master’s degrees. Its research empowers women’s leadership throughout the commonwealth and the world with graduates as far away as Africa engaging in important work for their respective communities. They also fund the Polly Logan and the Betty Taymor scholarships.
The William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of African American Culture and History is an important black think tank that is respected throughout the country, as is the Institute for Asian American Studies. And you can hardly put a dollar value on what the Veterans Center adds to the dearth of support programs for student veterans, active military and their families.
In spite of being allocated $558 million, an increase of $39 million systemwide, the insatiable Meehan money machine has the nerve to be disappointed at not getting $10 million more. Even though they are set to receive a check for $234 million from the sale of the Bayside Expo Center.
One thing’s for sure — any money should first and foremost be used to support the students, and the UMass Boston centers and institutes.
Joyce Ferriabough Bolling is a media and political strategist and communications specialist.