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Where does New Bedford go after the local public university turns its back?

The departure of the College of Visual and Performing Arts from New Bedford has, for the most part, left the headlines.

But the MFA students who can’t get into their studios and classes haven’t stopped thinking about it. And a still-struggling downtown that vitally needed its anchor won’t easily recover from it.

The New Bedford Light convened a panel of area leaders — former mayors John Bullard and Scott Lang; former city planner Richard Walega, and UMass Dartmouth MFA student Fallon Navarro — to talk about how the school could have left, whether there is anything that can be done to reverse it and what it all says about an institution that treats its own students and community this way.