All three finalists for the University of Massachusetts Boston chancellor's job have withdrawn from consideration.
Marty Meehan, president of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system, said Monday in a letter to the UMass-Boston community that the decision brings "an unceremonious end to a seven-month search process."
Meehan blamed the finalists' decision to drop out on public statements made by the UMass Boston Faculty Council questioning their qualifications.
The three candidates included Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement at the University of Pittsburgh; Peter Lyons, dean of Perimeter College at Georgia State University; and Jack Thomas, president of Western Illinois University.
In a statement last week, the faculty council rejected the candidates and called for the search to be restarted arguing that "none of the final candidates have demonstrated that they are sufficiently qualified to serve as the chancellor of the only public research university in the Greater Boston area and the most diverse four-year public institution in New England."
Meehan said he was "mortified" and has apologized to all three of the candidates.
Search Committee Chairman Henry Thomas III issued his own statement saying it was "deeply disappointing" to see a "small but vocal group" from the UMass Boston community take their criticism of the candidates public.
"It is outrageous to see higher education leaders who were willing to put their careers and reputations on the line for a chance to join the UMass Boston community be subject to this kind of denigration ..." Thomas said. "This petulant behavior will inflict long-lasting damage on UMass Boston's reputation and future ability to recruit the academic and administrative leaders we need at UMass Boston."
Meehan said that Katherine Newman, UMass senior vice president for academic affairs, will serve as interim chancellor.
UMass-Boston has more than 16,000 students.
Meehan and the faculty council have also clashed over the university system's decision to purchase the assets of Mount Ida College.
The faculty council last week issued a declaration of no confidence in Meehan and the university system's board of trustees.
The group said in a statement that it's superfluous to use Mount Ida's Newton campus to build a branch of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst near Boston instead of using the UMass-Boston campus.
Under the Mount Ida deal, UMass-Amherst will take over the 74-acre campus for "career preparation programs," in science and technology fields that are in demand in the greater Boston area.
The council said Meehan and the board are prioritizing one campus over another. They called for the deal to be halted just days before the former Mount Ida campus was formally transferred to the UMass-Amherst.
Meehan said expanding the UMass-Amherst co-op and experiential learning opportunities won't harm UMass-Boston.