The Globe's soft touch on Meehan

Is it too harsh to call today's A1, above-the-fold story on Congressman Marty Meehan a puff piece?

Yesterday, of course, Meehan landed the chancellor's job UMass-Lowell, his alma mater. Here's the Globe's lede:
In a potential watershed moment for a struggling region, US Representative Martin T. Meehan was chosen yesterday to become the next chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, buoying local officials who believe the high-profile Democrat can revitalize the small campus and the Merrimack Valley with his political and fund-raising skills.

Not just the campus, mind you--the entire region.

The Globe's article does name the two other finalists for the job: David Chang, chancellor of Brooklyn's Polytechnic University, and Nabil Ibrahim, vice chancellor of academic affairs at Purdue University's Calumet, Indiana campus. But it doesn't tell us anything about what Chang and Ibrahim might have brought to the job. And it allows the obvious problem with Meehan's appointment--i.e., his lack of academic experience--to be voiced by a UMass-Lowell professor, Julie Chen, who promptly dismisses it.

Meanwhile, the Globe op-ed page nods briefly at Meehan's dearth of academic credentials but still fawns over his appointment: "Much will be expected of Martin Meehan when he takes office as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. It is likely that no one will demand more than Meehan himself."

Thank goodness for the Herald, which tells us more about Chang and Ibrahim in a p. 6 story titled "Rejected finalists top academics: resumes both thick." Here's the important stuff:
Chang, 64, holds two Harvard degrees, is a former dean of Arizona State University’s engineering school and helmed a successful four-year, $275 million fund-raising drive that resulted in new dorms and facilities at Polytechnic University, the largest technical college in New York.
An education adviser to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he was named one of 21 “New Yorkers to Watch in the 21st Century” by the New York Daily News in 2000.

Ibrahim’s resume is equally sterling. He is a former associate vice president at San Jose State University and served for 12 years as an administrator and professor at Bradley University in Illinois.

“He’s very results-oriented and very high-energy,” Purdue spokesman Wes Lukoshus said of Ibrahim. “He’s a real go-getter.”

Maybe Meehan will prove to be an inspired pick. But as someone who's lived in two states (Minnesota and Michigan) that highly value their state university systems, Massachusetts' continued willingness to hand the public-education reins to politicians strikes me as bizarre.
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