Marty Meehan to close congressional committee, make $1 million gift for UMass scholarships from educational foundation fund
- The UMass System
Decision reflects “priorities and passions,” Meehan says
BOSTON – President Marty Meehan today announced plans to close his congressional campaign committee, transfer funds from the committee to an educational foundation and make a $1 million scholarship donation to his alma mater, UMass Lowell.
“This is the right time to take this step because my priorities and passions so clearly are here at the University of Massachusetts and with its mission of excellence and transformation,” President Meehan said.
“On a personal level, this is an expression of gratitude as well as a statement of commitment. But the real significance of the gift will be seen in the opportunities it provides for students and in the impact they will have on the Commonwealth and the world,” he noted.
President Meehan said he will close the federal campaign committee he established when he first ran for Congress in 1992 – an action that signals the conclusion of a political career that began with a stunning upset win and was characterized by the successes he achieved and acclaim he received while serving in the U.S. House. Throughout the course of his political career and even after he left office, analysts frequently speculated about the likelihood of Meehan’s seeking higher office.
Meehan, who became president of the five-campus UMass system on July 1, 2015, made the announcement as the first year of his presidency came to a close.
“I began my presidency one year ago meeting with students at UMass Boston, talking about the way UMass changed my life and discussing the importance of maintaining pathways to opportunity, and I want to end this first year with the same focus,” President Meehan said.
Meehan represented the 5th Congressional District of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2007, serving on the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees. Widely respected as a reformer, he established a national reputation for his leadership in protecting the public from the health risks of tobacco use. His record included strong support for funding for research and consistent advocacy for environmental protection.
The campaign account funds – about $4.35 million – will be transferred to an educational foundation that President Meehan established in 2001 and over time will be donated to educational programs that “provide high-quality, transformative opportunities,” according to President Meehan, who attended public schools in Lowell and graduated from UMass Lowell. The grant will follow the guidelines that the Federal Election Commission has set forth in similar circumstances, such as when the late Congressman Thomas Lantos transferred his leftover campaign funds to a foundation that he had established. President Meehan is naming the foundation for his parents, Martin and Alice Meehan, who stressed the importance of learning and guided five of their children into careers in education.
President Meehan said the gift, creating an endowed fund, is being directed to the university “that transformed my life and continues to play a major role in the lives of citizens and in the life of the Commonwealth.” In addition to being a graduate of UMass Lowell, Meehan served as Chancellor of the campus from 2007-2015. His four sisters graduated from UMass Lowell, which earlier this year launched a four-year, $125 million capital campaign. The campaign has already raised more than $84.5 million for student scholarships and support for faculty research, campus improvements and the university’s Division I athletics program.
Decision draws praise
President’s Meehan’s action was widely acclaimed.
“Marty Meehan has made it clear that serving as the president of the University of Massachusetts is his utmost priority and this action reinforces that point,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “I appreciate President Meehan's generosity for directing this million-dollar donation to a scholarship fund where it will change the lives of UMass students for generations to come.”
“This is a dramatic step and it truly does reflect the Marty Meehan many of us have come to know, respect and deeply appreciate,” said Victor Woolridge, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees. “To know Marty is to recognize the depths of his feelings for UMass and how driven he is to express his gratitude for the education he received at UMass. Because of this strong bond, he wants to ensure that other aspiring students have access to the same opportunity that he had.”
“This gift moves me enormously, but it doesn’t surprise me,” said Jacquie Moloney, who succeeded Meehan as chancellor in August 2015 after serving as executive vice chancellor for the eight years he led UMass Lowell. “I witnessed his dedication to improving our students’ lives on a daily basis. He is determined to make a lasting difference and he knows that investing in a UMass Lowell education is the best way to do so.”
“It is impossible to overstate Marty’s love for this campus or his commitment to our students,” said Donald Pierson, UMass Lowell’s outgoing provost, who has been at the university since the 1980s when he started as a faculty member. “His leadership led to record gains in student enrollment and achievement, a dozen new buildings, widening diversity and a doubling of our revenues.”
Marcelle Durrenberger, who spoke for UMass Lowell’s Class of 2016 at Commencement last month and is continuing on to graduate studies at the university, credited President Meehan with understanding UMass students and making a difference in their lives.
“His innovation, drive and passion transformed UMass Lowell. Countless students have thrived thanks to the opportunities he created, and we are forever grateful. President Meehan made striving for excellence our culture, and that empowered us to claim our rightful place among New England’s best universities. His influence would have already been felt for generations, but this gift further cements his legacy and will provide even greater opportunities for UMass Lowell students in the future,” Durrenberger said.
“A perfect ending to President Meehan’s first year”
UMass Dartmouth Student Trustee Jacob Miller said: “This gift is a perfect ending to President Meehan’s first year. It demonstrates a commitment to ensuring access to the affordable and high-quality education provided at the University of Massachusetts. As a student trustee, I am proud of President Meehan’s leadership and excited to watch the UMass system continue to succeed.”
Meehan Campaign Donors
Past donors applauded the decision to disperse the funds in this fashion.
“Supporting Marty Meehan politically from those early days was all about seeing his commitment to the future, making things better for district and Massachusetts families. Education was always a focus. As an educator and a UMass Lowell alum, it makes perfect sense to me that these funds be invested in the University of Massachusetts, its students and what that means for the Commonwealth and its future. I applaud Marty's decision,” said Marie Sweeney of Tewksbury.
“To support Marty Meehan politically was to align yourself with the future and with the candidate who was working to create better days. It therefore makes perfect sense to invest these funds in the University of Massachusetts and all that it does on behalf of the Commonwealth and its future. Once again, Marty Meehan is making us proud,” said Nancy Donahue of Lowell.
Business leader and philanthropist Jack Connors said: “Marty’s life has always been about providing hope and opportunity for others. That’s why he ran for office and why so many people supported him. So, I can’t think of a better way for him to use these funds than to make this connection with scholarships, which transform lives and build bridges to the future.”
President Meehan said he expects his foundation will provide financial support to the other UMass campuses.
“This is about supporting and honoring the UMass mission of education, research and public service and the life-changing mission of public higher education,” he noted.
Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073