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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Tocco Resigns as Head of UMass Trustees

Stephen Tocco, Chairman to the UMass Board of Trustees, resigned on Nov. 29 amidst tension between him and Gov. Deval Patrick. Patrick had attempted to oust him in September along with the five new trustees he brought in, but did not have the support.

The pressure to resign came after Tocco, an appointee of former Gov. Mitt Romney, cancelled a Nov. 20 meeting with Doug Rubin, Patrick’s chief of staff. The Boston Globe reported that Tocco cancelled after the paper reported the meeting and “Patrick’s determination to get rid of him” in their edition earlier that morning.

Tocco sent a letter to trustees on Nov. 28 saying it was in the best interests of the UMass system for him to step down. Tocco claims that the rift between him and the governor has become too much of a distraction, which was part of his decision to step down. His tenure as chairman was over in June, but he is expected to serve out the remaining three years of his five-year term on the board.

Though some are reporting this as a victory for Patrick, as he was ready to present a letter signed by a majority of the Board of Trustees, committing them to forcing Tocco out at their Dec. 14 board meeting at UMass Boston, Tocco has previously said that if he was removed as chairman, he would remain on the board.

“Winner and losers don’t really matter to me,” Tocco said in a brief statement. “We need to all work together to get Massachusetts back on its feet.”

According to the Boston Globe, “administration officials say Patrick wants to ensure that the chairman is loyal to him and in sync with his agenda as UMass tackles challenges next year that include a major capital construction campaign.”

This change in the board comes after other issues in the UMass system, such as the shuffle of some system members, such as former UMass Boston Chancellor Michael Collins and Chancellor Keith Motley, and the sudden resignation of UMass Amherst’s Chancellor, John Lombardi, back in July.

Tocco will be replaced by Robert Manning, another appointee of Romney, until an election to find a new chair can be held at the Board of Trustee’s March meeting.