MSCA responds to posible plan to shut down and privatize campuses

On Feb. 24, the Boston Herald carried an article concerning the rumors coming out of the Romney administration concerning the new Governor's plans to re-configure/re-organize the Massachusetts Higher Education system -- specifically, closing one or two community colleges (rumor is Bunker Hill and/or Mass Bay), and turning two state colleges into privately funded institutions (Mass Art and/or the Mass Maritime Academy).  

In response, Pat Markunas, president of the Massachusetts State College Association, sent the following letter to the Herald.

To the Editor:

I am president of the Massachusetts State College Association, the professional association that represents 2,400 faculty members and librarians at the nine state colleges in Massachusetts.  We educate nearly 45,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year.  About 7,000 of those students graduate each spring, and there are 120,000 living alumni of the state colleges who currently reside in Massachusetts.

At the outset, let me express my complete shock to read the Governor's plans for reorganization of public higher education in this morning's Boston Herald.  At no time has any representative or administrator from the Board of Higher Education or the Governor's Office consulted with me or with any faculty or librarians at the state colleges for our input into a reorganization plan.  I do not believe that state college presidents or trustees were contacted for their input, either.  

As far as I know, the Governor has relied exclusively on consultants from Bain Capital for these recommendations.  The consultants who visited the state college campuses freely admitted that they knew nothing about higher education, public or private, and their ignorance is apparent in the published recommendations for reorganization. 

The Massachusetts State College Association is unilaterally opposed to the privatization of any state college, including the College of Art and the Maritime Academy.  These institutions have the highest admissions standards and the best-prepared students in the state college system, and their graduates have been enormously successful in the job market. Alumni include famous artists such as William Wegman (Mass Art, Class of 1960) and several admirals from the Maritime Academy.

Both institutions represent unique opportunities for Massachusetts citizens to attend high quality, specialized colleges for an affordable price.  Graduates of the College of Art and the Maritime Academy gain a specialized education that is comparable to private art colleges and merchant marine academies throughout the country.  These unique opportunities for our students should be supported and enhanced by a governor who purports to support job creation, not squandered away in a consultant's report.

The faculty and the librarians are very proud of the students we educate and the service we provide to the Commonwealth. We represent an important investment in the future economic growth of the state.  We look forward to working with legislators, alumni, students and their parents, and all persons who understand the link between a strong public higher education system and a strong state economy.  

For the membership,

Patricia V. Markunas, President
Massachusetts State College Association