As the only public research university on the South Coast, UMass Dartmouth continues to play a vital role as an engine of opportunity for young people and an economic driver for the region.
After a decade of declining enrollment and leadership instability at UMass Dartmouth, we recruited Mark Fuller as chancellor, and the university is once again ascending. This fall, the university welcomed its largest entering first-year class since 2015 and largest entering graduate class in history. The university is rising rapidly in national rankings.
This is no surprise to those of us who know Mark’s talents and values. He is a leader who believes deeply in the power of public higher education. He has an excellent track record of building outstanding programs and leading positive change. A first-generation college student who worked his way through school at a public university, Mark has brought out the best in UMass Dartmouth over the last two-and-a-half years.
Regarding the Star Store, the university’s ability to house some of its arts programs there was only possible because the state provided $2.7 million of the $3.1 million annual cost to lease and operate the building. In July, after the governor and the House had approved the continuation of this support in the state budget, the funding was eliminated at Sen. Mark Montigny’s request, forcing the immediate relocation of the programs.
The board of trustees and the president’s office were fully aware of the untenable situation the chancellor faced. Without the necessary state appropriation, the university estimated it would need to impose an additional 4.5% increase in tuition on all 4,500 undergraduate students just to keep 150 students in the Star Store, something the chancellor was simply unwilling to do. In making the clearly responsible decision, he has our unequivocal support.
Steve Karam is the chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees. Marty Meehan is president of the University of Massachusetts.