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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Ask Bobby #12
September 25, 2023

News Briefs – 6/10/04

Institutional Advancement VC Resigns

Vice Chancellor of Institutional Advancement Joan Fisher has resigned after a year and a half at UMass Boston, according to several administration officials.

Fisher resigned last week. Assistant Vice Chancellor for Corporations and Foundations Tom Fencil, hired last December, is filling in as acting vice chancellor, having recently sat in for Fisher at the Commencement ceremonies on June 4.

On his first day as acting vice chancellor this week, Fencil declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding Fisher’s resignation.

“The chancellor would be the one to comment on that,” he said.

“It became clear early on that Joan Fisher did not know how to raise money for the university,” said one source familiar with the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Even basic follow-through was missing. This will free up a very crucial position at a time when UMass Boston needs to maximize its fundraising smarts.”

Fisher could not be reached for comment by press time.

“We are pleased that Tom Fencil has agreed to serve as the interim chief of our Office of Institutional Advancement,” said Ed Hayward, a university spokesman. “Tom has more than 36 years of experience in higher education and has been working in the development field for nearly 30 years. When an interim chancellor is in place, that person will undertake a nation-wide search to permanently fill the post of vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement.”

According to 2003 payroll records, Fisher was the second-highest paid person in the university, making a salary of $165,000, behind Chancellor Jo Ann Gora ($185,000) and tied with Provost Paul Fonteyn.

Fisher is the third major Gora administration official to leave in the last eight months. Associate chancellor and chief of staff Donna Smerlas left in November after four years, to be replaced by UMass Lowell’s Associate Provost Kenneth Lemanski. Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance David MacKenzie left in December, pulling his retirement papers at the last minute to become the head of the UMass Building Authority. Ellen O’Connor from Brown University has filled his position.

Fisher joined Gora’s administration on December 16, 2002. Previously, she was vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the Foundation for Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).

“Dr. Fisher brings to UMass Boston more than three decades as a higher education administrator, development officer, and fundraiser,” Gora told the University Reporter in November 2002. “We are thrilled to welcome such an accomplished professional in the field of advancement.”

UMB July Schedule Includes Big DNC Events

The last several weeks of July promise to be busy ones for UMass Boston. Along with summer classes, there’s a little thing called the Democratic National Convention (DNC) coming to town.

On July 25, North Carolina’s delegation (Sen. and vice presidential contender John Edwards’ home state) will be in the Campus Center ballroom. A day earlier, July 24, the ballroom will hold a Haitian forum with an estimated 200 people.

From July 22-26, the Boston Social Forum, an alternative DNC, will flood the campus with an estimated 3,000 people using fifty classrooms and several auditoriums. The program is expected to include speeches, panels, small group discussions, artwork, theater, and music.

From July 24-31, Boston police officers will be using the North Lot and lower level garage for parking, while they’re bused to downtown Boston.

On July 27, the Democratic Governors’ Association (DGA) will be holding a policy conference in the Campus Center’s ballroom, from 11am to 2pm. A clambake is to follow outside.

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (D), chair of the DGA, dropped by to check out the Campus Center with a small delegation on May 13. Vilsack, reported to be a possible vice presidential contender, met Gora at the UMass Boston Fox Point dock. The two walked to the Campus Center from there.

The group is going to take a look at the workforce and at the future Vilsack told the small crowd that followed them, made up of people representing the fifty states. The conference being held at a public university helps underscore the fact that education is key to economic security, said Vilsack, noting that in Iowa universities are “engines of economic growth.”

Gora said she was “honored and privileged” to have the event at UMB, the first national political event hosted in the Campus Center.

UMass Officials Praise Mass Taxpayers Report

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) has released a report recommending the Legislature free UMass from bureaucracy, which is said to hinder both the university system and the state, leading to a waste of resources.

Among the non-partisan public policy group’s recommendations are allowing the university the power to keep tuition, to manage its own construction, and the authority to sign leases.

UMass officials have greeted the report favorably. “It was framed right,” said Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Ellen O’Connor.

“I think the Taxpayers’ report is a positive report,” said David MacKenzie, former VC of A & F, and now head of the UMass Building Authority. “If it were adopted in whole or in part it would help the university provide a better education at the same level of resources.”

While still at UMass Boston last fall, MacKenzie had written a memo, detailing some recommendations similar to the MTF report. Some of the suggestions were originally developed by Vice Chancellor Joyce Hatch at UMass Amherst.

UMass worked with the MTF to discuss the topics, he said. “They sort of took them and ran with them.”

At a Faculty Council meeting last May, Gora said she had obtained a draft copy, labeling it favorable.

Unions Protest For Contract Funding

The UMass Board of Trustees chair would never be caught outside with that outfit. But there she was, at the president’s Beacon Street office, in a multi-colored wig, faded wedding dress, with matching pearls, and a sign around her neck, “GRACE FEY.” A closer look revealed it wasn’t Grace Fey at all, but a student protesting with the unions.

Angry over UMass President Jack Wilson receiving a raise and the Legislature declining to fund their contracts, SEIU Local 888, composed of the classified staff at UMass Boston, protested along with several students and faculty members on May 13, marching in a circle outside One Beacon. The staffers have not received a raise in three years.

“I hope that President Wilson and the Board of Trustees get the message that they need to work much harder to pay the classified staff before paying Wilson,” said Susana Segat, union president. “That’s the message: they need to work harder.”

Roy Milbury from Labor Relations came out to receive 520 student letters and nearly a thousand signatures. “We at the university are fully supportive of this contract,” he said afterwards on the funding. “We’re doing all we can for that to occur.”

Corrections: Carolina, North and South

Due to a writing error in the print edition, the May 13 News Briefs item “DNC Coming to UMB” mistakenly says the South Carolina delegation will have evening sessions at the Campus Center. It is the North Carolina delegation.

Due to a writing error in the same item, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa) was misidentified as both the chair of the Democratic Governors’ Association and the co-chair of the Democratic National Convention. He is just the head of the DGA.

Due to an editing error in the same item, the quote “It’s going to be a very busy, busy week” is attributable to Vice Chancellor Ellen O’Connor.

Due to an editing error, the editorial, “Trustees Jack UMass,” mistakenly noted that former UMass President William Bulger raised “almost $5 billion a year.” The correct figure, obviously, is much, much lower.

Due to a research error, the editorial also said UMass trustees raised President Jack Wilson’s salary to $400,000. In fact, trustees only raised the ceiling to $400,000.

Due to a posting error online, the editorial was mistakenly attributed to Mass Media reporter Gintautas Dumcius. Editorials are unsigned and considered the consensus of the Editorial Board.

The Mass Media regrets the errors.

Any and all corrections are encouraged. Information can be sent to [email protected], or phoned in at 617-287-7990.