Pangy, Meehan, And UMass -- Oh My!

Later today, the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees will announce the search committee that will find a new university president, to replace Jack Wilson. Wilson announced earlier this month that he will leave the position at the end of his current term, in June 2011 -- needless to say, the Patrick administration intends to complete the process of selecting his successor before the end of this year, just in case there's another governor in place come January.

The story I am hearing is that the administration has decided to give the position to former congressman -- and current chancellor of UMass-Lowell -- Marty Meehan. This would certainly help explain Meehan's decision to not run for US Senate after Ted Kennedy's death.

And further, the story goes, Meehan will be replaced at UMass-Lowell by state senator Steven Panagiotakos. Hence Pangy's announcement that he will not run for re-election (in time for potential replacements to meet the candidate filing deadline) -- and his non-explanation of his reasons for doing so. Pangy can hardly say publicly that he plans to be Meehan's replacement, before the search committee that will pick Meehan has even started meeting.

Meehan, whose three-year contract ends this June, is currently in negotiations about staying on. He is reportedly dissatisfied with his $280,000 base salary, which is on the low end for chancellors of similar universities. In the current fiscal climate, it is unlikely that a substantial pay increase is feasible.

Rather than risk Meehan walking away, then, it makes perfect sense to promote him to Wilson's job, which currently pays a base salary of just under $500,000 (plus a housing stipend, deferred compensation, and retirement).

And one would imagine that $280,000 would be plenty to entice Panagiotakos.

Even assuming that this plan is, indeed, in the works, it is no guarantee that it will happen. The UMass board is a complex entity with its own set of political agendas and alliances. Patrick can probably succeed in getting Meehan approved, if that is his plan, but it won't be a cakewalk.

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