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.

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  1. This is an interesting statement that ignores a couple of things.

    First, while much is made of the failure to appropriate the lease payment for the ‘23-‘24 year, and aim blame at Sen. Montigny, there’s no discussion of why the state didn’t pay a mere $1 for the whole building in the two years prior. The Board has jurisdiction over UMass’ land and buildings. The Board should issue a truthful statement of why the $1 wasn’t paid.

    Second, while the Chancellor is hailed for his efforts at increasing student enrollment, one needs to know why art enrollment hasn’t witnessed similar growth. Especially when the arts are increasingly attractive among potential college students. Especially when some of the most prestigious art high schools are in the northeast and along the east cost. Contrary to prevailing UMD administration opinion, interest in the classic arts (painting, sculpture, jewelry, weaving, print making, photography) has been on an upward swing since at least the pandemic. Why hasn’t UMD recruited these students in those schools (not to mention all Massachusetts high schools), enticing them to come study in an ascendant arts city?

    Finally, while there’s praise for the Chancellor, there’s no discussion of the students who have suffered unheard of obstacles to the education for which they signed up. No explanation of why he hasn’t found time to listen to their serious grievances, including the critical lack of studios, and how they might be solved through a tuition refund, for example.

    Public relations statements are no substitute for the truth and sound administration.

  2. “the funding was eliminated at Sen. Mark Montigny’s request”. Is it funny, or maybe not, how that Montigny name keeps showing up at potential and actual wrecks!

  3. What is going on behind student apartment housing at UMass Dartmouth? Most of the apartments are empty and the furniture is being removed and dumpstered. I scavenged and took home a plastic mat from a dumpster. It was sad to see how much was discarded from Star Store, too. My friends in academia say this is a trend across higher ed: Reducing publicly funded higher ed.

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