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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

An Interview With Barry Mills and the Search for a New Chancellor


UMass Boston Interim Chancellor Barry Mills is set to step down by the end of the academic 2017-18 year in June.

Interim Chancellor Barry Mills’ email to the University of Massachusetts Boston on Oct. 12 notified the community of his decision to step down by the end of the academic year. A Town Hall Forum was held shortly after to discuss with the public, including Mills’ critics, UMass Boston’s budget deficit and Mills’ decision to resign.

In an interview on Oct. 18, Mills sat down with The Mass Media to discuss the aforementioned. He said, “Candidly, if it had taken us longer to figure out a pathway to relative stability, I probably would have stayed another year. But given the progress that we’ve continued to make over this year, I feel pretty good about the opportunity… for an excellent chancellor to lead the place.” Mills added, “The sooner the school will find a chancellor, the more promising it is that the school will be in a stable position.”

During the Town Hall Forum that was held shortly after Mills’ email, Mills and other members of the administration notified the community that the school is now looking at a projected $5 million deficit by the end of this year. The goal, which was set by the University of Massachusetts system, was to reduce what used to be UMass Boston’s $30 million deficit, which according to Mills, was a result of years’ worth of money mismanagement.

The Save UMB Coalition, one of the most active coalitions on campus, questioned the administration’s inability to preserve courses instead of cancelling them. At the Town Hall Forum last week, Mills responded to these questions saying that for financial stability, “sacrifices had to be made.” A faculty member in the audience at the Town Hall Forum on Oct. 12 questioned whether the next chancellor will continue to lead the school to a stable condition as Mills has done so far.

Shortly after the Town Hall Forum, a press release was published stating the administration had launched a 14-member Search Committee, led by UMass Trustee and Chair of the committee, Henry M. Thomas.

“I think it’s important for people to express their views… As I stated in the forum, I invited people to read some of the materials that they produced because I actually thought they were actually quite well done,” Mills told The Mass Media. “Although I may have not agreed with every conclusion, I thought the facts that were set forth were important for people to read,” he said.

According to Mills, the search for a new Chancellor will be extensive: “I’m thinking hard about leadership…What I’m hoping to do is build a team for a new chancellor that is very able, disciplined, and strong.”

The press release states once the committee has submitted finalists to the University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan, the UMass Board of Trustees will choose one final candidate who will be appointed to the position as chancellor. According to Mills, it typically takes six months for a university to find a chancellor. “I’m very confident that they’ll find someone by the end of June,” he said.

Until the end of this academic year, Mills said that he also intends for the new dormitories to be well planned and executed and will be considering tactics to rebuild the Science Building, which has a substructure problem that began since the building was built in the ‘70s.

Although Mills is expected to step down this June, “You can’t wait me out…By nature, I’m an optimistic person,” Mills said.

“This is a great school, anyone who gets to go here, it’s a fantastic opportunity for them…students are terrific, faculty is very terrific,” Mills told The Mass Media.

“I will be working here until my last day with the same seriousness I had when I came here six months ago,” Mills said.

“For a long time, this university has had an ‘underdog mentality’…Maybe because I’m the new guy, looking at the place now rather than ten years ago, but I think it’s time to turn the page,” said Mills.