Dear President Martin Meehan and the Esteemed Members of the Now-Defunct UMass Boston Chancellor Search Committee:
After a seven-month search, the three finalists you found to lead UMass Boston all abruptly withdrew.
The implosion, which you say was detonated by a faculty group’s letter criticizing the candidates, was so devastating that you can’t even realistically restart the search right now. Because who in his or her right mind would take the job under these circumstances? And the faculty . . . how to put this delicately? Well, they seem to hate your guts, Marty.
What kind of candidate for chancellor would turn up at the UMass Boston campus/never-ending construction site for an interview now? Probably nobody qualified or self-respecting.
No, you’re down to the unqualified and self-loathing. And it is in that spirit that I come to you today.
Marty, I’m ready to throw my hard hat into the ring.
As you will see from the attached resume, my relevant experience is considerable. As an avid but only semicompetent do-it-yourselfer around the house, I am quite accustomed to living, working, eating, and sleeping in an active construction zone, which your campus has been since approximately two weeks after we drove out the British army.
I have also overseen a devastating, intractable budget crisis for about two decades now, albeit with considerably less revenue.
And I am proud to report that I have never been convicted of a felony, that you know of. Further, my incompetence with even basic household finance and accountancy should assuage any concerns you might have about corruption. And patronage? Hell, I’d mostly be taking this job to get away from my extended family.
Most importantly, hiring someone of deeply dubious competence would be consistent with the state’s longstanding practice of overlooking the students who could most benefit from a well-run, affordable research university. Of course the students deserve better. Many come from families with modest incomes and are already working to support their own families while improving their career prospects. But that hasn’t stopped us so far!
Sure, the school is vitally important to its students, its faculty, and, frankly, to the region. That’s why people like John McQuillan, chief executive of Triumvirate Environmental, offered to pay the tuition and fees of any student who agrees to come work for the Somerville firm after graduation.
Plenty of good Boston-area firms not named Google or Amazon need smart, well-trained workers desperately. Growing that modern workforce won’t happen exclusively at expensive private colleges here that vacuum up high achievers from all over the country. For people who have the talent and work ethic to excel, but perhaps haven’t had the opportunity yet, UMass Boston fills a critical need.
Your faculty members guard that mission fiercely, and with good reason.
But you’ve somehow managed to give the distinct impression that it’s an afterthought, slashing programs at UMass Boston while UMass Amherst spends millions of dollars on the leafy Mount Ida College campus in Newton. The former Mount Ida, pitched as a sort of Boston-area sanctuary for students from the flagship, does not double as a storage area for surplus construction equipment. It does not resemble an outdoor museum devoted to the history of the backhoe.
It’s great that you’re working on the Boston campus, but getting around is a bit of a challenge and has been for years. Students who brave this mess should have their diplomas printed on oversized orange plywood, and every degree should come with free forklift operator certification.
It doesn’t take a PhD to figure out who the favored sons and daughters are in the UMass family, or to understand why the faculty at UMass Boston would be deeply suspicious of a search process that largely left them on the sidelines. Which is fortunate because I don’t have a PhD.
My conditions are straightforward: an exorbitant salary. A prime parking space in your finest gravel pit. And your solemn promise that you won’t tell anyone that you’re the one who hired me.
I have a reputation to uphold.Nestor Ramos can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos.