The Campus Chronicle
Vol. XVIII, Issue 25
for the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts
March 14, 2003

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Learning curves: A short history of
higher education reorganization

by Daniel J. Fitzgibbons, Chronicle staff

T hough Gov. Mitt Romney's plan to restructure the state's higher education system caught many by surprise, the proposal is one of many -- some successful, some not -- that have emerged over the last half-century. Here is a capsule history of those changes.

1947: Massachusetts State College becomes the University of Massachusetts.

1954: Report on Massachusetts State Teachers Colleges recommends the creation of a board of trustees to oversee institutions.

1958: Community college systems is established under an 11-member Board of Regional Community Colleges.

1959: Report published by Department of Education recommends that state teachers colleges offer comprehensive, non-professional education.

1959-60: Teachers colleges reorganized into state college system.

1960: The first community college, Berkshire Community College, opens in downtown Pittsfield.

1962: Legislature creates Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute by merging New Bedford Textile School and the Bradford Durfee Textile School in Fall River. Construction of a new campus in North Dartmouth begins in 1964.

1962: University is given fiscal autonomy, allowing campus leaders and Board of Trustees to make independent fiscal decisions.

1962-1965: Study break
The Massachusetts Education Study, also known as the Willis-Harrington Commission, completes the most comprehensive examination of public education in state history. The co mmission took 30 months and spent almost $300,000 to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the state's school systems. The study resulted in a 624-page final report that included over 100 programmatic recommendations. Proceeds from a new sales tax were to be dedicated to education reform.

1964: University of Massachusetts at Boston established.

1965: A board is born
Willis-Harrington Act creates a secretary of educational affairs and a Board of Higher Education to "plan and develop efficient coordination" among institutions. The board also is empowered to recommend budgets, approve new programs, collect data and administer scholarships. Willis-Harrington also transforms state colleges into comprehensive institutions, offering a full array of undergraduate programs in the arts and sciences and career and professionally oriented programs as well as graduate programs through the master's and CAGS degrees. Almost from the get-go, the Board of Higher Education is seen as too weak and underfunded.

1969: SMTI becomes Southeastern Massachusetts University.

1969: UMass reorganizes
A study led by School of Engineering dean Joseph Marcus recommends that the University be organized into a system with a president and strong central administration headquartered in Boston and the campuses run by chancellors. The plan is approved by the Board of Trustees.

1970: UMass President Robert Wood moves his office to Boston.

1973: Everyone has a plan
Less than impressed by the Board of Higher Education, Wood and Senate President Kevin Harrington call for the creation of a "super board" to govern public higher education. The idea spurs a flurry of reorganization plans as Gov. Francis Sargent calls for abolishing the Board of Higher Education and the board members float a proposal to increase its own power and autonomy. Former Secretary of Educational Affairs Joseph Cronin proposes a reorganization of the state education system into five regions, each governed by a council for elementary and secondary education and a council for post-secondary learning. Cronin's plan calls for a board of post-secondary and elementary and secondary education to oversee the councils and report to a secretary of education and cultural affairs. Nothing happens.

1975: Lowell State College and Lowell Technological Institute are merged into the University of Lowell.

1976: One big unhappy family
Senate President Harrington proposes that all public colleges be placed under the University. The plan is opposed by Dukakis and the colleges and quickly dies.

1978: Let's look at that again ...
The Legislature establishes a Special Commission on the Reorganization of Higher Education to provide "investigation and study relative to the reorganization of public higher education." However, looming elections take center stage and the commission quietly expires before getting off the ground.

1979: ... and again
A new Special Commission on the Reorganization of Public Higher Education, comprised of 10 state representatives and five state senators, is appointed by Gov. Edward King. The commission receives reports from the university, state college and community college systems, former Gov. Foster Furcolo, the Board of Higher Education and the House Ways and Means Committee. The commission creates subcommittees to look at the possible merger of Boston-area colleges.

1980: House rules
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman John Finnegan submits a reorganization of higher education as an outside section in the Fiscal 1981 budget. The legislation calls for abolishing the secretary of education, creating a 15-member Board of Regents with authority over state and community colleges and leaving UMass intact. The item is approved by the House but stalls in the Senate.

1980: How about this idea?
The special commission recommends a 21-member board of governors be established for higher education. The board, appointed by the governor, would submit one budget request for the sys-tem to the Legislature, set tuition, terminate and approve academic pro-grams and shift funds between institutions with the approval of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

1980: Minority report
Concerned that the budget process is being used to dictate reorganization, Senate Ways and Means Chairman Chester Atkins proposes an alternate plan based on a minority report by two members of the special commission. The plan calls for replacing the Board of Higher education and secretary of education with a 15-member Board of Regents with authority to allocate funds to institutions, bargain union contracts, determine personnel, fiscal and program policies and create nine-member councils at each campus.

1980: Regents arrive
The Board of Regents is created in an outside section of the state budget. The Legislature retains authority to set the amount of funding for personnel at each campus, giving lawmakers control of 85 percent of the higher education budget. Gov. King appoints Springfield insurance executive James Martin as the first chairman. Secretary of State Paul Guzzi is named interim chancellor.

1981: E-merging idea
Former president of the University of Lowell John Duff is named chancellor of higher education. Duff recommends a discussion of merging the Massachusetts College of Arts with UMass Boston. Nothing happens.

1981: Shrinkage
Board of Trustees is downsized from 25 to eight members.

1981: Shotgun wedding
Less than a year after the creation of the Board of Regents of Higher Education, new Gov. Edward King, dealing with a state fiscal crisis, instructs the 15-member panel to streamline the state's public higher education system through closings or mergers. The panels weigh merging Framingham State College with Massachusetts Bay Community College and the consolidation of colleges in the Springfield area, but a plan to combine Boston State College with UMass Boston soon becomes the focus of the effort. Chancellor of Higher Education John B. Duff outlines a three-year phase-out of Boston State and its 3,700 students and 277 full-time faculty. But when lawmakers omit $6 million from the higher education budget for the coming year, Duff calls it a deliberate attempt to speed up the merger with UMass Boston and says the changeover will be shortened to three weeks. In August, the regents fire 97 Boston State faculty, who obtain a court injunction, forcing the school to remain open through the fall. In January 1982, the Legislature appropriates $6 million to pay Boston State faculty until they can be hired at UMass Boston or other state campuses. In February '82, using classrooms at its Columbia Point and downtown campuses as well as BSC's five buildings, UMass Boston absorbs its neighbor and sees its enrollment swell to 10,000.

1986: Uh-oh
UMass' aspirations to become a "world class university" don't mirror the feelings of Gov. Michael Dukakis, who tells the Boston Globe at the beginning of his third term, "We aren't California, we aren't Texas, and we're not Michigan. ... We do happen to have some of the finest academic institutions in the world. And, I don't think it makes sense for us to try to duplicate that."

1986: Collins ousted
State Rep. James Collins (D-Amherst) is elected chancellor of higher education by the Board of Regents after the board cannot agree on any of the finalists: state Sen. John Olver, New Jersey education official Franklyn Jenifer, Wellesley College president Barbara Newell and E.K. Fretwell, chancellor of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Angered by what he regards as legislative interference, Gov. Michael Dukakis demotes regents chairman David Beaubien and replaces him with political adviser L. Edward Lashman, who engineers the removal of Collins and the hiring of Jenifer as chancellor. House Speaker George Keverian (D-Everett) stops speaking to Dukakis.

1987: Payback time
While awaiting a legislative vote to boost his salary, Chancellor of Higher Education Franklyn Jenifer finds himself in hot water on Beacon Hill after allies of former law-maker/chancellor Jim Collins circulate a Campus Chronicle story in which Jenifer criticizes legislators for resisting reforms. Jenifer publicly repudiates the Chronicle report, published three weeks earlier, but later concedes that he was quoted accurately, including the comment that "You love the Legislature. Franklyn Jenifer doesn't, and he's going to change it." After letting him twist in the wind for awhile, lawmakers grant Jenifer his raise.

1987: Size matters
Gov. Dukakis signs legislation expanding the Board of Trustees from 12 to 19 to include three gubernatorial appointees and a student trustee from the Medical School.

February 1988: System study
In conjunction with the 125th anniversary of UMass, the Board of Trustees allocates $175,000 to support a Commission on the Future of the University. MIT Corp. chairman David Saxon is picked to head the 19-member panel. Later, Dukakis asks the commission to consider the role of the Board of Regents in its review.

February 1989: Changing of the guard
As the state's economic outlook grows gloomier, Dukakis appoints Lashman secretary of Administration and Finance and taps former U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas to chair the Board of Regents.

March 1989: Dueling reports
The Commission on the Future of the University calls for bringing the University of Lowell and Southeastern Massachusetts University into the UMass system and creating a new strengthened board of trustees with representatives of each of the three universities. The commission also recommends that the regents retain coordinating authority for public higher education, but that UMass should receive a lump sum appropriation to be allocated by the Board of Trustees. A day after the commission report hit the papers, Jenifer fires back with a report recommending that UMass President David Knapp's office ("a stifling bureaucracy") be eliminated and that the Amherst and Worcester campuses be combined and that UMass Boston be made a free-standing institution. Amherst-Worcester and Boston should have their own presidents and trustee boards, but the regents should continue to set policy for all 29 public campuses, says Jenifer.

May 1989: All in favor
To the surprise of no one, the Board of Regents approves the Jenifer plan, which also calls for selling the downtown UMass Boston building, which houses the President's Office, as well as part of Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

August 1989: Time for another study
Tsongas creates a 14-member Task Force on Administrative Organization.

September 1989: A&F Secretary Lashman orders the layoff of 2,300 state employees, including 700 in higher education. Lashman also proposes charging out-of-state residents for the "full cost" of their education at public institutions.

October 1989: Sound familiar?
UMass President David Knapp says a $10 million state budget rescission is accelerating the "privatization of public higher education."

November 1989: UMass fees go up by $350 as the trustees approve a curriculum support fee aimed at pumping revenue into the campuses.

March 1990: Shuffling the deck
A 13-member legislative committee is created to study the future of public higher education. Randolph Bromery is named interim chancellor of higher education, filling the post vacated by Franklyn Jenifer who is named president of Howard University. David Knapp resigns as UMass president; Amherst campus Chancellor Joseph Duffey is appointed president.

June 1990: Board of Regents approves a 28 percent tuition increase at UMass Amherst and UMass Boston.

September 1990: Regional approach
Following a $25.5 million cut ordered by Dukakis, Bromery unveils a reorganization plan to promote resource sharing by grouping campuses into five regions. The Amherst campus is grouped with Westfield and North Adams state colleges and Springfield Technical, Holyoke, Berkshire and Greenfield community colleges.

October 1990: UWM?
Bromery backs off his reorganization, saying that 60 percent of it is already in place. Speaking to the Faculty Senate, Bromery says, "I have to come back here, and I don't want to teach at the University of Western Massachusetts."

December 1990: Parting gift
As Dukakis prepares to turn over the Corner Office and a plummeting economy to Gov.-elect William Weld, he approves pay raises of 13 percent over three years for public higher education.

January 1991: Where's the fat?
The Tsongas task force refutes charges of waste and administrative "fat" in public higher education and calls for greater autonomy. The panel finds "no substantive evidence to support the claim that public higher education is top heavy with overpaid employees." Citing national data, the task force says Massachusetts is more faculty intensive and less staff intensive than other systems in the U.S. The panel recommends that public higher education be exempt from "routine and arbitrary" state regulations and that the regents chair be elected by the board and not appointed by the governor. The report suggests some regionalization of administrative and facilities maintenance among schools and broader use of computers and technology and shared faculty appointments.

January 1991: On the block
Weld takes office and immediately calls for creating a secretary of education and eliminating the regents. Among his key advisors is Stephen Tocco. A Northeastern University law professor on Weld's transition team floats a plan to close Mass. Maritime, Worcester State, Massachusetts Bay Community College and North Shore Community College. The plan also weighs closing Salem State and merging SMU and the University of Lowell with UMass.

February 1991: Bromery quits in protest of cuts. Paul Marks is named interim chancellor.

March 1991: What can we close?
Weld creates an 11-member commission to study the closing of colleges with the goal of saving $74 million. Duffey announces he will leave UMass to become president of American University. Weld fails to file the pay raise legislation, forcing the unions to renegotiate. Tsongas blasts Weld's plan to scrap the regents. Duffey calls Weld's proposal a "masterplan for mediocrity." The trustees authorize
Duffey to push a bill merging the three universities, a plan backed by the SMU trustees.

April 1991: Attitude adjustments
The trustees of the three universities meet to discuss a merger; the proposal is endorsed by the Boston Globe. Weld education advisor James Harrington signals a change in attitude, stating "A case can be built for increasing funding for education."

May 1991: Weld calls for $1 billion in cuts for the following fiscal year. The cuts include a $115 million reduction in higher education spending and $100 million from the collective bargaining reserve. The governor files a reorganization plan calling for a secretary of education to be advised by a 19-member board of education policy. The legislation also authorizes the merger of Lowell, UMass and SMU and gives University control over personnel and tuition.

June 1991: Strange bedfellows
The presidential search committee votes 5-4 in favor of Holyoke Community College president David Bartley to be interim president of UMass. In a weird twist, Dukakis appointees on the board unite with Weld to block Bartley's appointment, which is supported by trustees from the King administration, including James Carlin. E.K. Fretwell is named interim president. Tsongas quits to run for president.

July 1991: Give'em HECC
Weld signs UMass merger legislation and appoints Bunker Hill Community College's Piedad Robertson as secretary of education. The Board of Regents is replaced by an 11-member Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC). The UMass Board of Trustees is reconfigured to 19 voting members, three non-voting students and Robertson as an ex officio member.

September 1991: Then there were 5 ...
Lowell and Dartmouth join the UMass system.

January 1992: Tuition retention
Weld proposes level funding with full tuition retention for FY93. The plan calls for cutting higher education by $89 million, to be offset by $140 million in tuition revenues.

April 1992: Board of Trustees approves plans to close 250 Stuart St. offices and move classes to UMass Boston's Harbor campus. The President's Office is told to move to rented space.

May 1992: Michael Hooker is named UMass president.

June 1992: Weld offers plan to have seven state colleges become streamlined and specialized institutions, each offering a selection of majors in a particular field. Nothing happens.

May 1995: Hooker named chancellor of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

November 1995: Weld taps James Carlin to head HECC. With the governor's tacit approval, Senate President William M. Bulger is chosen UMass president.

January 1996: Weld announces plan to eliminate secretary of education and replacing HECC with a board of higher education. The new board will be authorized to eliminate duplicate programs, he says, forcing colleges and UMass to operate with "efficiency and unity."

August 1997: Carlin proposes eliminating tuition and fees at community colleges at a cost of $90 million. He also calls for eliminating faculty tenure.

July 1999: Stephen Tocco is named to replace Carlin, who resigns.

August 2000: Judith Gill appointed chancellor of Higher Education.

 
    
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