University of Massachusetts Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan, soon-to-be UMass president, met with Governor Charlie Baker for the first time to discuss the future of the states public Higher education system.
Governor Baker said he and Meehan are both big believers in online education as a complement to traditional education and they plan to grow the opportunities for online learning in the UMass system.
Baker described online learning as a win – win for working students who get flexibility and lower cost – and for schools - where online courses can be big money makers.
Meehan says UMass Lowell makes $40 million a year in online education. A former congressman, Meehan says 53% of Lowell graduates took at least one online course last year. And Meehan has other ideas for how to make the UMass system, in his words, rival the University of California at Berkeley.
By "building research, getting the best faculty that we can get, having national searches for deans' where we are bringing in the best people that we can. It means demanding excellence in everything that you do as a university so that you increase the reputation in the rankings across-the-board," he said.
Meehan has watched as the cost of a UMass education has risen dramatically since he was a student at UMass Lowell in the 1970s, with fees now far eclipsing the tuition.
"I just think, it's not transparent and our billing system lacks integrity when students and parents get a bill that says tuition is $2400 and fees are $8900. So we want tuition retention," he said.
Meehan says he hopes to keep tuition and fees down but he wouldn't be pinned down on an exact amount.