Is Keith Motley being supported, or singled out?

To the editor: After 382 years and the collaborative effort and support of students, parents, civic and community leaders, public officials, educators and district administration, Boston Latin School recently named its first ever black administrator, Rachel Skerritt.

Now it is time for our community to put a similar effort behind UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley, until recently, the only African American chancellor in the state university system, and a man to whom many on the majority-minority campus, and in the city of Boston, look for inspiration.

The problem is this: Motley is currently under fire for long term strategic planning decisions that were not made by a detached governance structure; in other words – he was not alone in the decision-making process.

According to a series of Boston Globe articles, Motley is being challenged by President Martin Meehan, UMass trustees, faculty heads and a former disgruntled employee for a budget deficit, declining enrollment, and weakening fundraising. I ask, why, and why now?

Under Motley’s leadership, UMass Boston has gone from dump to dream to reality and is reflective of Boston’s majority minority population. World class buildings have been erected successfully, an accomplishment that comes with its own set of challenges. Countless leaders have emerged from UMass Boston, causing lives to be changed and dreams to be realized. What we’ve witnessed at UMass is transformation and success – not tragedy.

A Globe columnist wrote: “UMass president Martin Meehan said he believes the school will weather its current woes and he has no desire to replace Motley calling him an “inspirational and transformative” leader, albeit one in need of support.

It’s time for the collaborative effort and support of students, faculty, parents, civic and community leaders, public officials, educators and university system administration to engage in a respectful dialogue that leads to the support of Chancellor Motley and the betterment of UMass, our Boston Community, and beyond.

Ronia Stewart, President & CEO
Garden & Eden and Associates, Inc.
West Roxbury, MA