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University of Massachusetts board of trustees chairman Robert Manning abruptly resigns

The Boston Globe
December 9, 2010
Robert Manning, the chairman of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, abruptly resigned from the board yesterday over what colleagues said was his view that Governor Deval Patrick was increasingly interfering in oversight of the university.

Manning’s sudden move — he gave no advance warning even to Patrick, who appointed him chairman in 2008 — is a jolt to the five-campus university system, which is about to choose a new president.

It follows a decision last week by UMass Lowell chancellor Martin T. Meehan to drop out of the running for the presidency, after Patrick and his staff raised concerns about the selection process.

The governor’s questioning of the presidential search and the subsequent loss of Meehan, who search committee members said was a top contender, was the last straw for Manning, who had expressed mounting frustration with what he felt was political encroachment on the board’s job, said four UMass officials and trustees who have spoken directly to him about his concerns.

“The governor has politicized the university and that wasn’t what Rob signed up for,’’ said a one trustee who, like others interviewed, insisted on anonymity to share private conversations. “He’s a very strong, smart businessman, and he was frustrated with how this thing played out.’’
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