Finalists for UMass-Boston chancellor job withdraw names

BOSTON (AP) — The three finalists vying for the job of chancellor of the struggling University of Massachusetts-Boston have withdrawn their names from consideration.

Marty Meehan, president of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system, said Monday in a letter to the UMass-Boston community that the decision brings “an unceremonious end to a seven-month search process.”

Meehan said the three pulled their names after a group representing UMass-Boston faculty publicly questioned their qualifications.

The three candidates included Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement at the University of Pittsburgh; Peter Lyons, dean of Perimeter College at Georgia State University; and Jack Thomas, president of Western Illinois University.

In a statement last week, the UMass Boston Faculty Council rejected the candidates and called for the search to be restarted arguing that “none of the final candidates have demonstrated that they are sufficiently qualified to serve as the chancellor of the only public research university in the Greater Boston area and the most diverse four-year public institution in New England.”

Meehan said he was “mortified” and has apologized to all three of the candidates.

In his letter Meehan rejected the idea of immediately reopening the search, saying the process was “exhaustive and comprehensive.” He said the search committee considered 195 candidates.

“Every avenue was pursued. Both traditional and non-traditional candidates were considered. There is no untapped pool of talent awaiting a call,” he wrote. “But perhaps more significant, the very public way this search came to an end, with three finalists all withdrawing in the face of public opposition from members of the campus, renders a new search untenable at this time.”

Meehan said that Katherine Newman, UMass senior vice president for academic affairs, will serve as interim chancellor.

UMass-Boston has more than 16,000 students.

Meehan and the faculty council have also clashed over the university system’s decision to purchase the assets of Mount Ida College.

The faculty council last week issued a declaration of no confidence in Meehan and the university system’s board of trustees

The group said in a statement that it’s superfluous to use Mount Ida’s Newton campus to build a branch of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst near Boston instead of using the UMass-Boston campus.

Under the Mount Ida deal, UMass-Amherst will take over the 74-acre campus for “career preparation programs,” in science and technology fields that are in demand in the greater Boston area.

The council said Meehan and the board are prioritizing one campus over another. They called for the deal to be halted just days before the former Mount Ida campus was formally transferred to the UMass-Amherst

Meehan said expanding the UMass-Amherst co-op and experiential learning opportunities won’t harm UMass-Boston.

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