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Keith Motley unfairly scapegoated

Melvin B. Miller | 5/24/2017, 11:30 a.m.
Many people believe that Keith Motley’s reputation took a fall to benefit those who were more responsible for the UMass ...
“I think people are worried that UMass is beginning to look too much like Morehouse.” Editor’s note: The UMass Boston student body is 57 percent people of color. Photo by Dan Drew

The major requirements of the president or chancellor of a college are to advance the school’s academic reputation and to induce qualified students to apply for admission. Of course the trustees can impose any demands they wish. A frequent expectation is that the college leader be a good fundraiser from alumni and charitable foundations. However, a very unusual qualification expected of Chancellor Keith Motley at UMass Boston is to have the skills of a prodigious real estate developer.

Few events are as damaging to an operating budget as repeated delays in construction projects. There is no reasonable way to hold Chancellor Motley accountable for losses at UMass/Boston that have resulted from the building boom. With the defective construction and corruption that marred the establishment of UMass Boston, one would think that the board of trustees and the UMass Building Authority would have provided better management of the present projects.

Many African Americans are uncomfortable with the timing of the pressure for Motley to step down. For the first time a majority of the UMass student body of 16,847 became people of color in 2016. Now 57 percent of the undergraduates and 29 percent of graduate students are black, Asian or Latino. What makes the resignation even more questionable is that Governor Baker did not commit $78 million as partial payment to demolish the deteriorating unsafe garage that has been closed for years until after Chancellor Motley had resigned.

Without the involvement of the race issue the problems that Chancellor Motley has encountered might be dismissed as normal management adjustments. However, with racial conflicts so common in Boston and elsewhere, it is imperative for African Americans to be watchful and not take for granted that racial discrimination is not involved. Many people believe that the chancellor’s reputation took a fall to benefit those who were more responsible for the UMass Boston problems.