Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Update: UMass-Mount Ida agreement doesn’t favor Amherst campus, according to President Meehan

UMass President Marty Meehan said the University had no role in Mount Ida closing

Official Mount Ida College Facebook page

Official Mount Ida College Facebook page

By Kathrine Esten, Assistant News Editor

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University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan has issued a clarifying statementregarding the recent deal made between Mount Ida College and the UMass system.

The agreement, which was announced April 6, transfers Mount Ida’s physical assets, including its 72-acre campus, to UMass Amherst and provides a path for current Mount Ida students to continue their education at UMass Dartmouth. According to President Meehan, the agreement has prompted “many questions” from UMass stakeholders.

“We are confident that questions related to the agreement will be answered in due course and through proper channels,” the president stated, “but I want to clarify a few points that have been confused in the wake of our announcement one week ago.”

Meehan first emphasized that UMass had no role in Mount Ida’s closing. After potential merger discussions with Lasell College were terminated, and Mount Ida had no choice but to cease operations at the end of the year, Mount Ida approached UMass.

“Their primary goal was finding a path to degree completion for their students,” Meehan said in the statement.

Through the current agreement, UMass Amherst will relieve the college of its debt by acquiring the Newton campus, and the University will provide Mount Ida students with automatic admission to UMass Dartmouth and expedited transfer application to other UMass campuses.

“While this is not a perfect solution for Mount Ida’s students, who are faced with a difficult transition through no fault of their own, we have worked hard to provide a clear path to degree completion for most Mount Ida students,” Meehan said.

Meehan also addressed the speed at which the agreement was reached by saying it was “informed by previous discussions between UMass and Mount Ida” that ended once Mount Ida began exclusive negotiations with Lasell. When these exclusive negotiations later failed, Mount Ida “re-engaged UMass about entering into the agreement,” which was finalized two weeks later.

In his statement, Meehan also responded to claimsthat the deal affected the operating budget of the UMass Boston campus in favor of the UMass Amherst campus.

“There is no aspect of this transaction that represents a discretionary use of resources that favors one campus over another,” Meehan said in the statement that came out on April 12.

While UMass Amherst will borrow to acquire the physical assets of Mount Ida, Meehan claimed that the University will “offset that borrowing with revenue supported by its growth.”

“UMass Amherst’s capacity to borrow these funds is wholly unrelated to UMass Boston’s capacity to borrow or fund its priorities,” Meehan said. “Under the leadership of Chancellor Mills, UMass Boston is on a path to financial stability, which will be aided by a similar strategic investment at the former Bayside Expo Center site, from which millions in new revenue will be earmarked for UMass Boston.”

Meehan closed his statement by saying that the agreement was “consistent with UMass Amherst’s strategic plan” and increased “the workforce development capacity of the entire university and promotes connectivity between UMass and employers in the Commonwealth,” as well as providing Mount Ida students “with access to a world-class UMass education.”

“All of this aligns with our mission of access, economic development and public service in the Commonwealth,” Meehan said. “While this is certainly a difficult situation for the Mount Ida community, we believe strongly that in the final analysis, Mount Ida students and the Commonwealth will benefit from UMass’s engagement.”

Kathrine Esten can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @KathrineEsten.

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