Pioneer is critical because UMass is critical

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The University of Massachusetts system is critical to the future of the commonwealth’s economy, and that is why Pioneer started drawing attention to the finances of the five-campus system in the spring of 2016 through the release of its three-part series. With a deferred maintenance backlog of more than $3 billion, the UMass system is in the midst of an irresponsible capital expansion program that has neglected that backlog. Gov. Baker may have provided the Boston campus with an emergency bailout of $78 million in state funding to demolish its much-discussed parking garage, but this is a BandAid and not a cure.  After all, the infusion of state funds comes in addition to the $74 million state taxpayers have contributed to capital projects at the campus in just 2016 and 2017.

Taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill for deferred maintenance in great part because UMass is spending its available capital funds on new construction. Given that UMass has adopted this approach without any approval from the commonwealth, we urge State House leaders to hold hearings and begin developing a legislative approval process for the university’s capital and financial planning. UMass matters to so many Massachusetts families. Pioneer is engaged in this work with an eye to making sure that a public higher education option is available and solvent well into the future. See our recent op-eds, research, and news coverage below.

Recent Op-eds:

WGBH News: ‘Shameful Scapegoating’ At UMass Boston: The Inside Story

April 20, 2017

By Jim Stergios

It’s hard to know all the details about why someone has been shown the door. But in the case of Keith Motley, the outgoing chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston, the publicly stated case made by top UMass brass is a shameful mix of obfuscation and scapegoating.

Back in the spring of 2016, Pioneer released three lengthy studies of the University of Massachusetts’ strategy as it relates to finance, capital expansions, and student enrollment. Read more…

Sullivan: UMass leaders fail Boston campus

April 14, 2017

By Greg Sullivan

The University of Massachusetts at Boston faces seemingly intractable financial difficulties, but it’s wrong to pin the blame on outgoing Chancellor Keith Motley. Many of the problems flow from decisions made by the UMass board of trustees’ and president’s offices.

At the direction of the trustees, UMass Boston has grown its enrollment and expanded capital facilities at an historic rate over the past decade, despite projected declines in the number of Massachusetts high school graduates. Read more…

Read our three-part “UMass at a Crossroads” series on the state university system’s aggressive capital expansion and dramatic rise on out-of-state enrollment: 

Read media coverage of our “UMass at a Crossroads” series: