Saturday, September 02, 2006

Romney Screws UMASS Again

Our part-time Governor, part-time wannabe presidential candidate has decided to play politics with the UMASS system again. Not content with destroying our budget, forcing students to pay thousands more in fees - and not content with helping block UMASS Dartmouth from merging with the Southern New England School of Law - Mitt Romney has decided to stick it to public education before he walks out of the door. Yet again. When you're Mitt Romney, you like to take the kick-'em-while-they're-down approach.

"It's a clear indication from (Romney's) perspective that the university was too bold in its stance to support the law-school issue," said Mr. Karam, of Tiverton, R.I., who is president and CEO of the First Bristol Corp., a development company in Fall River. "There was going to be payback on this issue, and ultimately there was...I think the trend of a strong independent board is really critical. If the reason I was not reappointed was that I stood up for the university and in this case the Dartmouth campus, so be it. We were clearly correct on this issue."

Mr. Karam said that in 2003 Gov. Romney also pressed the board to fire then-UMass president William Bulger, which Mr. Karam and a majority of the board opposed. Mr. Karam, whose trustees' term expired yesterday, had recently been elected as chairman of the board for a third straight year. He said he heard from Gov. Romney that he would not be reappointed to another five-year term....

Mr. Karam said Larry Boyle, the only board member Gov. Romney did reappoint, was against the merger between UMass Dartmouth and SNESL to create a public law school. All of the other board members not being reappointed favored the merger, he said.

UMASS Dartmouth lost a close ally, a member of the Board of Trustees who not only graduated from our school, but is native to the region. With the budget totally slashed over three or four years, (because tax rollbacks are such a great idea) UMASS has nearly, barely survived a Governor who doesn't believe in the UMASS system (apparently, UMASS Worcester and Amherst deserve all the state cash). Consequently, my student fees have risen by more than $500 each year I've been at UMASS - way beyond the rate of inflation - and the quality of my education has gone downhill (it's nearly impossible to get into classes nowadays because they're so packed).

In spite of Beacon Hill, my University is a great school. We're just the right size, have lots of choices over programs and hundreds of great professors. We're also one of the major economic stimulants in the region - for every dollar invested in UMASS Dartmouth, the region gets $4. Furthermore, people who go to UMASS stay in Massachusetts. More importantly, people who go to UMASS Dartmouth often stay in the Southcoast - and the Southcoast needs every educated worker it can get. UMASS Dartmouth is the only major school in the region - without it, Fall River and New Bedford would be utterly dead (instead of merely struggling).

If Mitt Romney were to have his way, the South Coast would be a pathetic ghost town. The sad thing is, with the Mitt Romneys of the world, it nearly is.

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