UMass Lowell’s Meehan Sends his Own Message


Chancellor Meehan’s Inauguration Ceremony – April 4, 2008 – Members of  Congress Niki Tsongas, Edward Markey and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chancellor Marty Meehan, Governor Deval Patrick and Fr. Nicholas Sannella

With full credit to Globe senior writer Frank Phillips, here’s his latest story on the Political Intelligence page of He and Marty Meehan are longtime friends – so it’s not surprising that Phillips has this “political jab to Governor Patrick” story.

UMass-Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan is sending Governor Deval Patrick a none-too-subtle message after his fellow Democrat quashed the former congressman’s bid to become president of the entire University of Massachusetts system.

Meehan is planning to give an honorary degree this spring to Robert Manning, who quit as chairman of the UMass board of trustees late last year amid what he saw as meddling by Patrick in the presidential search.

The award was confirmed by a high-level university official; a UMass-Lowell spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Manning is a UMass-Lowell grad who has gone on to run one of the country’s biggest financial services firms, Boston-based MFS Investment Management.

While he and his wife have no children, they have contributed and been devoted to the UMass system in general and UMass-Lowell in particular, leading to Manning’s role atop the system’s governing board of trustees.

Manning also was working with fellow Trustee James Karam to oversee the search to replace UMass President Jack Wilson. That search was trending toward Meehan, who members of the search committee made the strongest presentation among a group of semifinalists, before the governor and his top aides began to weigh in.

Patrick spoke generally of the need for diversity among the field of candidates, to conduct a search that not only looks but is open, and that would result in a pick with “broad wings” academically.

Meehan got the message, withdrew from the search after his name leaked, and went back to Lowell, where he has run his own alma mater since resigning from Congress in 2007.

Manning announced his board resignation a week later.

The university ended up hiring Robert Caret, president of Towson University in Maryland.

As Marty sits on a tidy sum of campaign dollars only eligible for use in a federal race, one wonders if there are more Marty-messages to be heard. Stay tuned.

This story was posted by Glen Johnson here on the Globe “Political Intelligence” page.

6 Responses to UMass Lowell’s Meehan Sends his Own Message

  1. Nancy says:

    I missed this in the paper – so thank you for posting the info and the link.
    The chancellor is speaking to students on Tuesday at 3:00-4:30. I wonder if this will be on the agenda.

  2. Bob Forrant says:

    messages often have a way of turning in to budget slights of hand. Overplaying upset could cost Uml some dough along the way or a blocked bond issue for a badly needed new academic building on the too often forgotten South Campus. But it is MA politics after all and bare knuckle rules apply!

  3. Jack Mitchell says:

    Bingo, we have a winner!

    And who loses in the calculus of ego?

    The Governor had a puppy that had a drive to hump peoples leg. Any ol’ leg would do, including my own. I’m confident the Gov got that bad habit nixed.

  4. Marie says:

    Jack and Professor – let’s not go off the deep end here! The spin is Frank Phillips’ and I suppose mine for the sake of a post! Robert Manning – a generous UMass Lowell alum of considerable standing – is getting a well-deserved honorary degree. MTM wouldn’t jeopardize UMass Lowell – in funding or otherwise. End of that story.
    BTW – I too was victimized by little Toby Patrick. Your analogy is naughty!

  5. Bob Forrant says:

    No worries about me and the deep end. But thus far UML has been able to make significant moves with bonds and borrowed money from the Commonwealth and the Feds. Since it seems likely that these sorts of funds are going bye bye, how the university picks and chooses it’s friends matters. That aside, Mr. Manning has indeed been a generous alum and is indeed deserving of the recognition regardless of the back story.