Metro

UMass Boston faculty vote no confidence in president, trustees after Mount Ida deal

JONATHAN WIGGS/GLOBE STAFF
The University of Massachusetts Boston campus.

The faculty council at the University of Massachusetts Boston declared “no confidence” in UMass president Marty Meehan and the university’s Board of Trustees on Monday, in the latest sign of frustration over the controversial acquisition of Mount Ida College.

The council, echoing previous criticism of the deal, said UMass Amherst’s plan to buy the Newton campus would “further complicate and weaken the already difficult process of equitable allocation and distribution of public funds across the university system.”

In a statement, the group called on university officials to halt the proposed purchase and faulted Meehan and the trustees for having “failed to communicate with the faculty, staff and students of the UMass Boston campus regarding such a detrimental plan and [seeking] to prioritize the interest of one campus over the well-being of another campus.”

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Heike Schotten, associate professor of political science at UMass Boston and the council’s associate chair, said the no-confidence vote was prompted by a May 9 letter Meehan sent to the council. In it, Meehan wrote that the council’s claim that UMass Boston officials were not consulted “during the decision-making process related to the Mount Ida acquisition” was inaccurate.

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Mount Ida, a small liberal arts college, announced in April it would close and sell its campus to UMass Amherst. A previous effort to merge with nearby Lasell College fell through.

In a statement, trustees chairman Robert J. Manning defended the planned acquisition of the Newton campus, saying “we don’t stand in the way of progress on any of our campuses when it is strategically planned and supported by a sound business model.”

Meehan said “leadership requires making decisions even when they aren’t popular with everyone.”

He acknowledged the “faculty’s passion for UMass Boston and its mission” and pledged to “work closely with faculty and the entire campus community to move UMass Boston forward by focusing on its own incredible opportunities.”

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But Schotten said the council believes that Meehan cannot be trusted to take UMass Boston’s needs into consideration.

“All of this, taken together, means that [Meehan and the board] think it would be OK if UMass Boston sank into the sea under the weight of its own crumbling infrastructure,” Schotten said.

“UMass Boston has been disregarded, disrespected, and undervalued basically since its existence began.

“This deal is just the icing on the cake,” Schotten said

Laura Krantz of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Aimee Ortiz can be reached at aimee.ortiz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @aimee_ortiz.