UMass Building Authority leader to take new role in university system

The leader of the UMass Building Authority (UMBA) will step down from her position later this month to assume a new role within the UMass system. Patricia Filippone, who has been the executive director of the UMBA since 2013, will transition into a job focused on “public-private partnerships”— or P3s— next month, according to a UMass spokesman.

Filippone has been a key figure in the build-out of the UMass Boston campus— including the first-ever student dorms in Dorchester. Most recently, she was pivotal in the UMBA’s agreement to lease the 20-acre Bayside campus to a private development team.

“[Fillipone] has led the university in the development of P3s, including the first residence halls at UMass Boston,” said UMass spokesman Jeff Cournoyer. “These alternative financing tools have become important to the university and its ability to construct facilities that improve the student experience.”

The UMass Building Authority board will name a successor for Filippone. No one has been named to the job yet.

In a memo obtained by the Reporter and co-authored by UMass President Martin Meehan and UMBA Board Chair Victor Woolridge, the two men credited Filippone for “increased transparency, accountability and control around university finances.”

“She directed the financing working group in the issuance of $792 million of tax-exempt and taxable bonds from 2014-2017 to finance $3.1 billion capital plan over five campuses," Meehan and Woolridge wrote. "She strategically advised each campus to structure debt amortization by project, based on five-year capital and debt plans. She also refinanced over $878 million in debt on a taxable and tax-exempt basis to provide gross savings of approximately $132 million from 2014-2019.”

The transition comes just weeks after UMBA finalized a 99-year lease agreement for the Bayside campus in Dorchester with Accordia Partners. The land deal could net the university with anywhere from $192.5 million to $235 million in payments from Accordia, depending on how much of the site is permitted and built-out.

Senator Nick Collins said Wednesday that the transition comes at a critical time for the university and the Boston campus in particular.

“The charge for the next leader of the UMBA should be to make sure the windfall from the Bayside deal is used to re-set the financial balance on the Boston campus,” said Sen. Collins, whose First Suffolk district includes Columbia Point. Collins says that the proceeds from the Bayside lease should be directed to pay down debt from earlier UMass Boston building projects and to “free up” the campus’ operating budget from further debt.

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