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Meehan Pulls Name From UMass President Search

UMass-Lowell Chancellor Martin Meehan has pulled himself out of contention for the job of University of Massachusetts president.

The former congressman's name had surfaced as a possible replacement for retiring President Jack Wilson, but Meehan said in a letter Tuesday to the head of the search committee that he won't be a candidate.

Meehan left the U.S. House in 2007 to take over leadership of his alma mater and has received generally positive reviews of his tenure.

"After reflecting on the possibility of serving as UMass president, I've concluded that my interest remains in running UMass Lowell," Meehan wrote. "Therefore, I ask that my name be removed from consideration for president of the system."

Meehan said he had been interviewed by the firm searching for a new UMass president and had been asked how he could raise the profile of the university system.

"I view that invitation as a tribute to the entire UMass Lowell community and recognition of the remarkable progress we've made together over the past three and one-half years," Meehan said.

The presidential search is being led by the firm and a 23-member committee headed by the trustees' vice chairman, Fall River businessman James Karam.

Karam thanked Meehan said he was "saddened" by his decision to withdraw.

"Based on his service in Congress and his energetic leadership and strong record of accomplishment as Chancellor of UMass Lowell, Marty Meehan is the kind of candidate that any university in the nation would be eager to include in a presidential search," Karam said in a statement.

Despite leaving elected office, Meehan maintains a nearly $5 million campaign account and has given $20,000 to the state Democratic Party during the past two years.

Gov. Deval Patrick said last week he wants the next UMass president to be able to raise money outside the state and represent the university in the upper echelon of public higher education across the country.

"We have a real opportunity here to get someone who would bring some national stature to the campuses," Patrick said. "It helps to raise the profile of the campuses, because more and more they're going to have to do outreach beyond the Legislature for funding and for innovations."

While the appointment will ultimately be made by the university's 19-member board, the governor can hold sway over it since he appoints 17 of those members.

Asked last week if he was concerned about a politician or former politician being appointed to oversee the five UMass campuses, Patrick said: "I know what you're asking me, and I haven't expressed a view about any particular candidate and I'm not going to."

Patrick is concerned about the fallout from political appointments after he was lambasted last year when he tried unsuccessfully to appoint state Sen. Marian Walsh to a $175,000 state post that had long been vacant.

Karam said the search committee will continue its work, which he said has attracted the interest of top candidates from across the country.

"Our committee is scheduled to meet in a little over two weeks, and I am confident that we will be able to move our process forward and, at the appropriate moment, will succeed in our goal of selecting finalist candidates," Karam said.

The search committee is charged with culling the list to no more than three finalists, who will then be voted upon by the full board of trustees.

Earlier:

This program aired on November 30, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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