Trustee: Lawmakers need to ‘see what they’ve got’ at UMass

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Written by Colin A. Young

BOSTON — As the University of Massachusetts seeks to hammer out a multi-year funding strategy with the state, trustees suggested Wednesday that Beacon Hill lawmakers should take a bus tour of the UMass campuses to “see what they’ve got.”

“The Legislature doesn’t know what it’s got. They don’t know what (UMass) Amherst looks like, they don’t know what (UMass) Boston looks like, they don’t realize the value of the university system,” trustee Robert Epstein said. “The guys I’ve talked to really have no idea, and it really is a crown jewel in the crown of the state.”

UMass President Martin Meehan said another trustee, James Buonomo, had previously suggested the university take the governor and legislators on a helicopter ride to show them the UMass-Boston campus, which is in the midst of $750 million in long-term facility and infrastructure construction.

“I think they would be shocked,” Meehan said. “I don’t think people have any idea.”

Meehan, a former congressman who took over as president of the system in July, said he intends to “spend a lot more time” at the State House to pitch lawmakers on the importance of funding UMass.

“We need to show them what we’re doing. We need to show them the research, the spinoff companies, the impact that we have on the Massachusetts economy,” Meehan said. “I look forward to making that case.”

Students, too, have expressed a desire to meet with legislators to show them what the state’s funding contributes to at the five UMass campuses, Committee on Academic and Student Affairs Chair Alyce Lee said.

“Our students go out into the world, they create jobs, they invent things and they find cures,” Lee said. “They don’t get that aspect of it and I think if they did, they would want Massachusetts to be at the cutting edge of land grant institutions in the country.”

Copyright State House News Service