Monday, April 24, 2017

Sunday Globe Special: Undermining UMass-Boston

After a good nights sleep I wanted to finish up yesterday:

"UMass Boston’s biggest challenge? Its own ‘Big Dig’" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  April 22, 2017

The most gargantuan challenge facing UMass Boston is one you can’t see.

As the campus struggles to balance its budget, complete long-delayed construction projects, and find a new chancellor, it has yet to solve the most complicated, expensive, and risky problem on campus: fixing a dangerously unstable parking garage that sits beneath many buildings and the university’s central plaza.

The subterranean garage was built along with the rest of the campus in the 1970s, part of a misbegotten construction project that sent two state senators to jail in a corruption scandal.

Its concrete is crumbling, sometimes falling onto cars and natural gas lines. The structure is so deteriorated that a 2015 engineering report found it unsafe for firetrucks to drive onto the plaza for fear they might fall through.

In many ways, the dilemma of the underground garage illustrates the dynamics that plague the University of Massachusetts Boston and have led to its current budget troubles....


RelatedNo one wants to pay to fix this crumbling garage, and that’s telling

What led to all the trouble:

"Growth spree has the UMass Boston campus in a bind" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  March 18, 2017

It was the autumn of 2011, and the future of UMass Boston seemed bright.

Four years into his tenure, Chancellor J. Keith Motley had just received the results of an ambitious report that would set in motion a decade of growth at the city’s only public research university.

By 2015, the campus would have more students, more tenured professors, its first-ever dormitory, new PhD programs, and an array of new buildings to replace many of the unloved, and crumbling, red brick buildings that have long defined the campus. The changes would bring not only first-rate laboratories and classrooms but, at long last, a view of Columbia Point’s sparkling waterfront. By 2025, it predicted, the campus would be transformed.

That vision, however, came with a huge warning: Those plans would be expensive, and without careful planning could saddle the university with a deficit of as much as $41 million by 2015.

The report’s authors cautioned administrators to watch every dollar, find efficiencies wherever possible. They would need to raise tuition, recruit more full-pay students from outside Massachusetts, and scrutinize the financial impact of each new program.

Now, five years later, the campus finds itself in a situation much like the one it was warned about. In its quest to rise from a commuter school to a top-tier research university, it followed through with the buildings, the programs, and the faculty while largely ignoring the warning that came coupled to those promises.

“I think what they became was kind of reckless,” said John Hess, a longtime English professor who served on the committee that wrote the 2011 report.

Despite a prediction last summer that it would generate a $2.3 million surplus this year, the campus instead faces a budget gap that could reach $30 million by the end of the fiscal year in June.

It is a body blow to the mission and image of a university that plays a critical role in a city known as a higher-education capital, offering undergraduate and graduate school opportunity to students with high aims but limited means. Tuition for in-state students is $13,400 and $32,000 for out-of-state students. Seventy-one percent of its 12,847 undergraduates receive financial aid. 

Hey, kids, have you noticed the wider world is all about illusion and imagery?

.  .  .

Administrators are scrambling to make ends meet, clean up construction debris, improve fund-raising, and reverse declining enrollment after it dropped by 183 students this year from last. Frantic attempts to cut costs have left professors demoralized and skeptical about whether administrators have faithfully shepherded the campus, according to interviews with faculty. 

Keep the $crambling in mind for later.

University of Massachusetts president Martin T. Meehan has hired a special administrator from the outside to assist Motley in righting the ship, but interviews with longtime professors and a review of university documents detailing the situation make it clear that the problems facing UMass Boston stem not from one person or one decision alone.

Get rid of them all then.


UMass Amherst raises $379 million, surpassing fund-raising goal

UMass president buys Hub waterfront condo for $975,000

He's on a mi$$ion.

Over the years — decades, even — a pattern of shrinking state support, ballooning maintenance needs, and at times chaotic management and lack of communication have combined to steer the school into an untenable situation that has left students to bear more of the cost, with tuition and fees up by 6 percent in the past year alone, according to campus financial documents and faculty and university officials.

This is absolutely mind-boggling to me when you consider the endless streams of self-aggrandizing articles that come from the Globe telling us how great the schools are here, best in the nation (ignore the lead-tainted water and leaking roofs), and that Deval was the education governor, and on and on and on!!

Once again the Ma$$achu$etts myth clashes with reality.

On the flip side, the increase in tuition and fees is to pay the debt interest. How's that for kids with student loans, 'eh?

“I do wish we had reacted sooner to stem the tide on our budget deficit at UMass Boston,” said board of trustees vice chairwoman Maria Furman.

Meehan said that when he took over in 2015, he began requiring quarterly reports from the campuses — and those reports offered a window into UMass Boston’s problems.

“It became clear that we had an issue that we needed to address at Boston,” Meehan said in an interview Friday. “To the extent there was a lack of attention, we are making adjustments.”

.  .  .

Furman said the change in board leadership, and in the UMass president’s office, slowed the board’s reaction to the problems. She said she is unhappy with some of the ways the campus has tried to cut costs.

For example, last summer the school sent notices to about 400 part-time faculty to say they might not be rehired in the fall, a notice required by union rules. It then rehired most of them.

More cuts followed last fall and this spring, including courses canceled, conference sponsorships ended, and office supply budgets curtailed.

Students and faculty worry more cuts will come as Barry Mills, the former Bowdoin College president who is Meehan’s pick to help run the campus, tries to balance the budget. They are also concerned about whether the university has followed through on certain cuts it promised.

For example, administrators instituted a hiring freeze in November but since then have hired 29 people, including four administrators with salaries of more than $100,000 apiece, records show. Earlier last year the school hired or promoted 10 other top administrators to positions that pay between $96,000 to $228,000, records show.


Meanwhile, faculty said they are left to cope with the results of a disorganized administration that has added many new programs while leaving others to languish.

As long as you get your check.... what's the problem?

The campus has added 22 new degree and certificate programs since 2014, according to records provided by the campus. They range from a new doctorate in global comparative public administration to a certificate program in “game-based teaching with technology.”

At the same time, some professors say that programs they have developed are ignored.

“We’ve built up these small areas of expertise and excellence but then the university doesn’t nourish them and people get disillusioned,” said David Levy, a longtime professor in the business school.

Levy said he helped pioneer a program that researches organizations and social change, and it became the first track in a PhD program in business administration. But the program lost its PhD administrator and cannot replace that person because of the hiring freeze and they were not able to admit new students this coming year, he said.

.  .  .

What remains unchanged at UMass Boston, however, is a deep sense of purpose.

Faculty believe serving their students, many of whom also work full time and raise families, is more important than the hurdles they now have to overcome to teach, even as the bureaucratic chaos has left them anxious and frustrated.

“People love it, despite everything,” Hess said.


Do I need permission to go to the bathroom in college?

Many faculty still recall the early days of the urban college. It was founded in 1964 as the state’s only public university besides the flagship in Amherst. Amid political turmoil and civil rights activism, a generation of baby boomers who couldn’t afford a private education, or didn’t want one, flocked to the school’s original location at 100 Arlington St. in the Back Bay.

Ann Withorn, a professor who taught at UMass Boston from 1977 to 2013, remembers the college when it was home to a group of idealistic, sometimes rowdy, academics who came of age in an era of protest and social change. The place has changed a lot since then, she said.

“But the students who want to go there are still very similar to the students who’ve always wanted to go there,” she said. “It always was the higher education for everybody.”

The last thing I want to do is sit in a classroom and listen to someone wax nostalgic about the past.

Today everybody includes many first-generation, low-income, minority, and immigrant students. The majority-minority campus is among the most diverse in the city and the most affordable. At the same time, its research prowess has increased, and it attracts top-quality faculty.

But because many of the students lack the financial stability of their counterparts at the private colleges just a few miles away, the campus’s financial distress has had an even larger impact on their studies. A recent restriction on photocopying, for example, is a big deal, because students must now often pay to print handouts elsewhere or access a computer to read them online.

Juan Pablo Blanco, an immigrant from Argentina who until recently was undocumented, works full time as a restaurant manager in Cambridge while he pursues an undergraduate degree in philosophy.

OMG! It's such an agenda-pushing paper from cover to cover.

Of course, no legal citizen would have wanted to manage a restaurant.

One of the biggest ways the budget cuts hurt students, he said, is that some course sections have been canceled, meaning students sometimes have to wait longer to graduate.

“It’s becoming a lot more tricky to figure out,” Blanco said.

“When am I going to take them, and how am I going to graduate on time?”

His partner is a master’s degree student who wasn’t sure if her teaching assistant job would be eliminated in the cuts. Instead she accepted a position that covered just three quarters of her costs, to make sure she would have at least some income, and took out loans to cover the rest.


“Having to pay money out of pocket is a huge hit for us,” Blanco said.

.  .  .

While tuition increases can be painful for students, costs appear to have risen at the slowest pace of several scenarios outlined in the report to fund the new programs and buildings. Costs for in-state students have risen about 18 percent since 2012.

That's con$idered $low in this era -- we are told -- of nearly zero inflation?

The number of out-of-state students has grown, but not at the rate needed to keep up with costs. There were 2,641 out-of-state students in 2012 and 3,538 last year, according to a 2017 bond prospectus from the university. The report suggested adding as many as 3,000 per year.

Do they have a cour$e on frying the books?

Motley, the campus chancellor, did not respond to a request to be interviewed for this story. Neither did Provost Winston Langley.


Amid its growing pains, one of the university’s biggest challenges has been the uncertainty of financial support from state government. In 1985 state funding made up 75 percent of the campus’s operating budget, the report said. Today it makes up 29.5 percent, including benefits the state pays for some UMass employees, according to UMass officials.

Your "public" colleges are ALREADY PRIVATE!

The 2011 report warned that the school should advocate for more support but not count on it.

“This means engineering a major paradigm shift,” the report said.

“Adopting new financial models that reflect the new reality of public funding.”


A cornerstone of the 2011 report was a suite of new buildings that would be the first since the original structures went up 40 years ago.

In 1968 school leaders announced the move to Columbia Point, a 100-acre site formerly home to a landfill and cow pasture. But the opening of that campus in 1974 proved as much a curse as a blessing.

Shoddy construction began to crumble long before it should have. Giant chunks of concrete fell from the ceiling of an underground parking garage, so it had to be closed in 2006. In 1977, two state senators were jailed for extorting payments from a consultant that oversaw the project; the company itself was later accused of taking money for services it never performed.

NOTHING HAS CHANGED! Corruption and shoddy workmanship just like the Big Dig debt hole.

The 2011 report forecast that by 2014, the school’s 50th anniversary, there would be a “dramatic new UMass Boston,” with a dormitory, new classrooms, higher retention and graduation rates, and expanded research programs.

While some benchmarks have been met, and some projects completed, many lag significantly behind.

A new science complex opened two years behind schedule and cost $28 million more than expected. A new classroom building was delayed a year and ran $17 million over budget.

Thus the rise in fees and tuitions.

Another mammoth project on campus is one that ultimately won’t be seen. The university is in the midst of a utility and roadway project to install water, sewer, and electrical service underground.

That project stalled for a year because asbestos was found in the soil. That and other setbacks mean it is now set to cost $233 million instead of $142 million. The state has agreed to pay $75 million toward that project.

.  .  .

As UMass Boston nears its self-imposed debt cap, it has looked to private developers to finance projects like the $126 million dormitory, set to open in 2018 instead of 2014, and a $71 million parking garage. That dormitory project stalled for years amid opposition from the surrounding neighborhoods, state officials, private universities, and some students and professors themselves, who believed it would divert the school from its roots as a place for locals. 

THow about calling back all those tax subsidies going to Hollywood, GE, et al? 


Why would the university embark on so many construction projects at once when it knew the debt it would incur?

Phil Johnston, a UMass trustee who was chairman of the UMass Building Authority when many of the projects were built, said university officials believed they were imperative to the campus’s success.

The buildings “were bad to begin with, and then they deteriorated to the point where they had an impact on enrollment,” said Johnston.

But perhaps as much as the buildings, it’s the little things that matter to UMass Boston students, like how frequently the shuttle buses run from the JFK/UMass T station to campus. One set of budget cuts proposed reducing the frequency of those shuttles.

Janine Massicotte, 47, commuted for two and a half years from Worcester to UMass by public transportation. For five hours a day, several times a week, she took a city bus to the commuter rail to the T to that shuttle, and if it were to come less often, she said, she could miss her class.

Massicotte returned to school later in life, after she cared for her ailing father, and is one class shy of a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she said.

Now she worries the budget cuts will threaten the small class sizes that made it exciting to learn, and the diversity of classmates who taught her as much as the textbooks.

“It’s just going to be like any other school,” she said.

“And I think that’s too bad.”



What a mess, huh?


UMass Boston was warned of financial crisis years earlier

Memos were sent in 2012, 2014, and 2016, and they were warned that they were  “running out of money” in 2014. 

Could $22.3m budget gap threaten UMass Boston’s growth?

That was last December, and don't worry:

UMass receives sound bond ratings, with a caution on debt

More important than $tudents.

Enrollment at UMass reaches a new high


And they are still having money problems?

UMass Boston professors upset by cut in funding for library

UMass labor center loses director, some funding

UMass board is providing plenty of political theater

It's past the point of being funny.

UMass students decry changes in Africana Studies

And the very next day racist fliers appear? 

C'mon, kids (or professors?), that's a bit too obvious.

The knife in Motley's back?

"Man is stabbed at party at home of UMass Boston chancellor" by Laura Krantz and John Hilliard Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent  January 15, 2017

STOUGHTON — A 20-year-old man was stabbed during a party at the home of University of Massachusetts Boston chancellor J. Keith Motley early Sunday morning, according to local police and a statement from Motley.

My first thought was underaged drinking.

Motley was traveling at the time of the incident, according to a statement he released Sunday. He was rushing back home Sunday to learn more about what happened, he said, and he would have more to say later.

“I have learned about an incident that occurred at my residence last night and am very concerned about it as well as the health of the young man who was injured,” he said in the statement.

Motley was on vacation with his wife in Jamaica, according to two people with direct knowledge of his whereabouts.

Stoughton police said they received a 911 call at 2:48 a.m. Sunday reporting the stabbing.

At Motley’s Stoughton home, attorney Joseph Feaster answered the door Sunday afternoon and told a reporter the family had no statement. He said the stabbing victim is a friend of the family and that he was in stable condition.

“We are praying for him, and he is OK,” Feaster said.

Feaster said police have yet to interview family members.

“We haven’t had any conversations yet . . . no detectives have been by,” said Feaster.

About a half-dozen vehicles were parked around Motley’s home Sunday afternoon.

Neighbors contacted by a Globe reporter declined to go on the record but described the family as well-liked in the neighborhood. One neighbor said Motley hosts a Christmas party for neighbors each year.

Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call the Stoughton police investigative unit.

I don't post addresses or phone numbers, sorry.

Motley has been chancellor of UMass Boston since 2007. He and his wife, Angela, have two daughters, one in college at UMass Amherst and the other in high school. Motley also has an older son.

A message left on Motley’s cellphone was not returned Sunday....


I'm told there were chaperones:

"Adults present at party where man was stabbed, UMass Boston chancellor says" by Nicole Fleming and Steve Annear Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff  January 16, 2017

STOUGHTON — University of Massachusetts Boston chancellor J. Keith Motley said adults were at his home early Sunday morning when a 20-year-old man was stabbed at a party there.

During a press conference Monday afternoon in front of his home, Motley, who was vacationing with his wife at the time of the incident, said he would never leave his children unattended and that “extended family” was present the night of the stabbing. which occurred outside the house.

“They had their friends here, but they also had lots of other folks here — family,” said Motley, who has two daughters, ages 17 and 20, as well as an older son. “They were watching the [Patriots] game and doing what young people do.”

And what is that exactly?

When asked if the party involved underage drinking, Motley declined to comment and said that’s something that “needs to be investigated.”

That's a crime in some places, or at least parents can be charged.

Motley said his children are “very responsible” and that his biggest concern was their emotional stability in the wake of a traumatic event.

“Someone whom they love was injured outside my home,” he said.

Oh, now it is outside and the only reason he can say that is the guy was found 1/2 a mile down the road bleeding in a car. 

Becoming emotional toward the end of the press conference, Motley stressed the importance of being a father first, and a chancellor second, in emergency situations like the one that pulled him away suddenly from the trip with his wife.

“ ‘Chancellor’ is a title,” he said, his voice wavering slightly. “ ‘Dad’ is an honor.”

He played the Dad card?


Globe says just fine the kidsWhat kind of message is that sending?

Mr Fix-It:

"UMass Boston chancellor’s authority is diluted amid campus financial woes" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  March 14, 2017

Concerned about persistent financial problems at UMass Boston, the university board of trustees has significantly diluted chancellor J. Keith Motley’s authority in the day-to-day running of the institution.

Trustees have allowed Motley’s contract to expire and have hired former Bowdoin College president Barry Mills to oversee the nuts-and-bolts operation of the urban campus. On Monday, officials also named a new campus budget chief, replacing the longtime chief financial officer, who was fired in January.

The campus faces a deficit of up to $30 million, declining enrollment, overdue construction projects, and weakening fund-raising, according to UMass officials.

Adjunct professors have been laid off and research databases have been discontinued in an attempt to cut costs. In the history department, there’s even a prohibition on photocopying, the department chairman informed professors last week.

Mills, who will earn $250,000, said the new arrangement will allow Motley to continue as the public face of the university while Mills addresses its challenges. Mills said he is not interested in becoming chancellor.

This guy is getting a quarter-million to come in while they can't afford photocopies in history department!

Motley, who was paid $422,213 last year, was until recently the only African-American chancellor in the state university system, and many on the majority-minority campus, and in the city of Boston, look to him for inspiration.

That's almost half-a-million dollars! You halve that and it's 10 or so tuition for year!

In an interview with the Globe, Motley said UMass Boston is simply in a period of growth and transition, pointing to the many new construction projects underway. It is trying to juggle financial realities with the need to expand and update facilities in order to attract new students, he said. Motley said he welcomes Mills’s help and does not plan to leave.

That's going under kind of talk.

The financial concerns at UMass Boston have escalated in the past year. University officials have known for at least three years that they needed to address a budget gap. This year trustees grew increasingly alarmed that the campus administration was not moving fast enough to deal with the fiscal problems, according to interviews with three board members.

Last month the board was told the campus’s reserve in fiscal 2016 was less than half what it was in 2014, according to a copy of a report it received.

What kind of endowment do they have?

In addition, the operating margin at UMass Boston has grown from a $20 million surplus in fiscal 2010 to a deficit that could reach $30 million this year, according to a presentation campus officials gave last spring and new information from the central UMass office.

Campus officials, meanwhile, believe they can shrink the deficit to below $15 million by the end of the fiscal year in June, according to a campus spokesman.

The latest in a series of budget cutting measures were announced Thursday in a memo from the provost that said the reductions are necessary because other planned cuts have not happened yet.

The memo from provost Winston Langley called for the elimination of nonessential travel and a reduction in the number of summer courses, among other cuts.

Mills, who has advised UMass system president Martin T. Meehan over the past year on other UMass matters, is acting in a new role of deputy chancellor and chief operating officer.

Mills’s contract gives him the same powers as the chancellor. He reports to Motley but is in close contact with Meehan and the board. He has hired Robert Connolly, the former longtime UMass spokesman, to help him navigate the political landscape on campus.

“It’s a compliment to Keith that he recognized that he needed someone to help him with some of the details and the complexities that the campus has,” said Rob Manning, chairman of the trustees.

Mills’s contract does not include other pay and perks that college presidents typically enjoy.

Motley’s three-year contract expired in January and, in an unusual move by trustees, has not been renewed, according to the central UMass office. Typically, contract renewals are negotiated six months before the agreement expires.

The chancellor said UMass Boston is simply in a period of growth and transition. The campus is building its first-ever dormitory that will house 1,000 students starting in 2018.

“This allows for us to continue to work hard, but it also allows for me to have a partner internally to connect some of the dots that we need to connect that I can’t do by myself,” Motley said Thursday as he prepared for a fund-raising trip to Florida.

(Blog editor snorts)

At Bowdoin, Mills is credited with increasing the school’s endowment by $1 billion to $1.4 billion, replacing student loans with grants for all students on financial aid, doubling minority enrollment, and increasing campus sustainability.

Mills’s skills could be welcome at the Boston campus, where the endowment is $74.4 million and fund-raising has declined in recent years, from $14.7 million raised in fiscal 2013 to $10.5 million last year. In May, the campus’s chief fund-raising official, Gina Cappello, died in a car crash.

Enrollment at UMass Boston declined from 17,000 in the fall of 2015 to 16,800 last fall, and in the nursing program, a signature of the Boston campus, it dropped from 1,500 to 1,300, according to the school.

Motley and other trustees say one main reason for the enrollment decline is the major construction projects that have ripped up the campus and made it difficult to navigate, much less park. The projects are delayed and have cost more than expected.

It's a chicken-or-the-egg thing!

The cuts have demoralized faculty as they try to pursue research and teaching. The library discontinued its subscription to many online databases, especially those used by the humanities department, according to professors in that department.

Actually, the article that would come about five days later would say they are still loving it despite all the hardships.

Recently, departments have been asked to return money they had already been allocated. History department chairman Tim Hacsi wrote to his staff on March 6 to say the administration had requested $6,000 be returned. He asked professors to refrain from making photocopies for class unless absolutely necessary.

(Blog editor just shakes head)

Hacsi said he understands the school is facing hard times and needs to make cuts, but he would like it if administrators would communicate more clearly. “Any transparency would be a big plus,” he said.... That's the new buzzword to deflect all criticism.

We are TRANSPARENT -- whatever that means.


He's got quite a challenge ahead.

Also seeBaker urges UMass Boston not to make cuts that hurt students

I think it's too late.


Baker will commit $78 million to UMass Boston garage project

Here are some of the gargantuan projects dubbed ‘The Big Dig’


"The University System of Maryland will stop providing bonuses to the system chancellor, former UMass president Robert Caret, after lawmakers sharply questioned a $75,000 bonus awarded during a closed-door meeting this spring, school officials said Thursday. State lawmakers convened a joint hearing to scrutinize the compensation of Caret, who received the bonus just one year after he was hired to head the Maryland system at an annual salary of $600,000. ‘‘Why is the chancellor getting all this increase when we are raising tuitions? It’s really hard to justify this to students,’’ Sen. Nancy King, D-Montgomery, said at the hearing. James Brady, head of the system’s Board of Regents, said the bonus was a way of keeping Caret’s take-home pay on par with what he received in his previous job, leading the smaller University of Massachusetts system. There, Caret was one of the nation’s highest-paid chancellors, with more than $700,000 in total compensation. Brady said he’ll push to strip performance bonuses from Caret’s contract. He also told lawmakers that the university system will start publicly announcing raises given to chancellors and campus presidents...."

At least they got the gorilla back in its cage.