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FSU Executive Committee Statement on UMB Centers and Institutes


The following statement was approved by the FSU Executive Committee on 4/18/2018:

The Executive Committee of the FSU would like to offer a strong  statement of support for the work of the campus's Centers and Institutes which, individually and in the aggregate are crucial to the urban mission of University of Massachusetts Boston. The Interim Chancellor's recent announcement of a plan to defund the Centers and Institutes constitutes a shortsighted and devastating attack on the core activities of the faculty, including graduate and undergraduate teaching, community-outreach, and our own research work—work that every single day contributes to the cultural, intellectual, and economic life of the Commonwealth. 

The Centers and Institutes contribute significantly to the recruiting and retention of demographic groups central to the urban mission of UMB—students from historically underrepresented groups, military veterans, and first generation undergraduate and graduate school students.  The Executive Committee of the FSU condemns the defunding of these efforts and registers its deep disapproval of the Interim Chancellor's specious rhetorical linkage of the Center and Institute budgets with need-based financial aid.  We reject the assumption of scarcity that would force us to choose between student financial aid and providing vital educational programs for these same students.  Additionally, the Interim Chancellor's claim that “important work finds funding” is a barely-veiled call for the privatization of the public, urban mission of UMB.  Contemporaneous developments across the  system make it clear that the Interim Chancellor's austerity-based claims are, to say the least, misleading.  Recent news reveals that the Interim Chancellor's formula might more accurately read “Educational priorities find public funding.”

We recognize that the Interim Chancellor's proposal to defund Centers and Institutes emerges in a challenging context, when attacks on public education in the nation and the Commonwealth take many and insidious forms.  But the plan is hardly transparent with respect to financial fundamentals. Has the Interim Chancellor investigated the processes by which nationally-recognized scholars are drawn to work at UMB because of the presence of Centers and Institutes? If the external grant money these faculty members bring to the university were included in the Interim Chancellor's math, the financial picture would change considerably.  

In light of all this the Executive Committee of the FSU makes a simple request: press pause on this plan and appoint a short-term task force to explore, in a focused and efficient way, how the Centers and Institutes draw from and contribute to the value of the university.  The Centers and Institutes are core academic programs.  The FSU Executive Committee urges  the administration to work with us and with other on-campus groups as part of a shared process to address the budget problems the campus continues to face.  Doing so is the only way to develop short-terms solutions that are also sustainable for the long term.