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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Massachusetts Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates’ Views on Higher Education

Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick

On Wednesday September 19, Massachusetts Democrats will cast their votes in the gubernatorial primary. Their vote will determine which of the party’s trio of gubernatorial candidates – Chris Gabrieli, Tom Reilly, or Deval Patrick – will square off as the sole Democrat in the November 7 general election against Kerry Healey (Republican), Christy Mihos (Independent), and Grace Ross (Green). The Democratic candidates have staked out unique positions on some issues, but one subject the candidates seem to fundamentally agree upon is that our state’s colleges and universities are going to be an instrumental part in shaping the state’s future. Following is a summary of their proposals for improving Massachusetts’ higher education system.

Chris Gabrieli:

On Democrat Chris Gabrieli’s campaign website, the successful entrepreneur characterizes Massachusetts’ economy as “stuck,” citing the state’s overall loss of 148,000 jobs in the last 5 years. Describing our state’s universities as essential “engines for regional economic development,” Gabrieli’s campaign pledges that he “will actively engage colleges and universities in the business of economic development…Chris will work with the UMASS campuses to develop centers of excellence in chosen fields that will foster research and the development and technology transfer for commercialization of products.” During last week’s televised gubernatorial debate Gabrieli promised to allocate $1 billion toward funding research at competitive institutions of higher learning, mentioning Harvard specifically as one potential recipient.

Tom Reilly:

“We’re saying it all can’t be about Harvard,” interjected opponent Tom Reilly, Massachusetts’ Attorney General. Reilly has pledged to transform the University of Massachusetts into a top-ranked public institution. Affirming the vital role that the five campuses play in our state’s job creation, the candidate has promised the university “predictable, increased funding,” with an additional $500 million to expand its “research and development capabilities.” Reilly’s plan, “Never Give Up On A Child,” aims to ensure that all Massachusetts students earn a postsecondary degree, an ambitious goal considering that, at present, only a third do so.

Deval Patrick:

Deval Patrick, businessman and former U.S. Assistant Attorney General of Civil Rights, has pointed to skyrocketing tuition and fees at our state’s universities and colleges that have pushed public higher education out of financial reach for many promising students. Patrick has charged the Romney/Healey administration with under-investing in higher education, noting that the state “ranks forty-seventh in the nation in spending on public higher education.” The candidate has pledged that should he win, all high school graduates “will have access to a quality, affordable public university or college,” an investment designed to grow the Bay State’s future workforce – since 85% of its public college and university graduates remain to live and work after graduation. Like Reilly, Patrick has promised to direct the state’s major higher education investments toward the “expansion and development of public colleges and universities.”

All information courtesy of the candidates’ Official Web-sites.