New UMass president visits university’s campuses

Martin J. Meehan, president of the University of Massachusetts, spoke with students at the Lowell campus as part of his campus tour. He wants to make the system more unified.

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

Martin J. Meehan, president of the University of Massachusetts, spoke with students at the Lowell campus as part of his campus tour. He wants to make the system more unified.

Newly installed University of Massachusetts president Martin T. Meehan crisscrossed the state from dawn until dusk Monday to visit all five university campuses as he prepares for his inauguration ceremony on Thursday.

The marathon of visits was meant to symbolize the president’s pledge to make the campuses more unified, said Meehan, who technically started as leader of the public university system in July.


On Monday night, one of Meehan’s stops included a graduate business class at UMass Boston, where the students explained how they use Bloomberg terminals to invest money in the stock market.

“This is great. I think this is great,” Meehan told students as they explained what they have learned.

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The president started the tour in Dartmouth at 7:30 a.m., then made his way to the flagship campus in Amherst, then to the medical school in Worcester, on to Lowell where he used to be chancellor, and finally to the Boston campus at Columbia Point.

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

Meehan, former chancellor of UMass Lowell, spoke with students at his old campus.

His visits included a bioengineering lab in Dartmouth, a history class in Amherst, a simulation center at the medical school, and a River Hawks hockey practice in Lowell.

At the finance class in Boston, two students shared stories about why they chose to attend UMass and what their goals are.


“Five years go, I was packing boxes in a warehouse, and struggling to make ends meet,” said Chris Reece, wearing a business suit and tie. He hopes to become an accountant for nonprofit organizations, he said.

Meehan told students he has been meeting with chief executives of large finance companies in Boston, and said he would tell them about this class and see whether the companies would be interested in helping to support financial literacy courses.

“One of the things that we need to do is get more private funding,” Meehan said.

Professor Atreya Chakraborty started the finance class four years ago with just one Bloomberg terminal and $25,000 in donated money for students to invest. Now the classroom has 12 terminals and $89,000, of which about $30,000 is profit and the rest is more donations.

Chakraborty said the unstructured format of the class is important because it teaches students to think the way they will have to in the real world, where there is no textbook or instruction manual.

Meehan’s inauguration ceremony is set for Thursday afternoon at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on the UMass Boston campus in Dorchester.

Monday’s campus visits came on the heels of a tumultuous week for the UMass president, when he went toe-to-toe with lawmakers on Beacon Hill for $10.9 million to pay overdue raises to staff and students. Because Meehan did not get the money, the campuses will have to make mid-year cuts, he said.

‘‘One of the things that we need to do is get more private funding.’

Marty Meehan, UMass president 
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Meehan has argued that the system is underfunded and, in addition to more private investment, deserves more state support.

UMass ranks in the middle of a group of self-selected peers for the amount of money it receives from the Commonwealth, which makes up about 17 percent of the overall $3 billion budget at UMass.

Laura Krantz can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.
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