State Higher Ed Official Retires
Cellucci suggests Harvard Van-Guard CEO Charlie Baker may fill post
After four years of shaking up Massachusetts public colleges and pushing for cuts in tuition, James F. Carlin confirmed rumors Friday that he plans to step down from his current position as chair of the state's Board of Higher Education and retire from public life in Massachusetts.
Although he has been semi-retired for some time, Carlin has spent the last several years working essentially full-time in the volunteer chair position.
His efforts are appreciated, say board members, and recent achievements of the board reflect his dedication to improving public higher education, according to Chancellor of the Board Stanley Z. Koplik.
The Board of Higher Education oversees 175,000 students in the public university system, which includes the five University of Massachusetts campuses, nine state colleges and 15 community colleges.
In an effort to improve the education of those 175,000 students, the board's main goals included increasing affordability and access to public higher education in Massachusetts, raising admissions standards, improving retention and graduation rates, promoting institutional efficiency and maximizing private fundraising, according to a press release issued April 27 by the Board of Higher Education.
During Carlin's term, the board has made substantial progress in working towards these goals, Koplik said in the press release.
According to Koplik, the board has decreased system-wide tuition by an average of 17 percent over the last four years.
It has also increased financial aid to students at public institutions by 44 percent, he said.
Koplik also said the board has raised admission standards for four-year public institutions twice in the last four years, without negatively affecting their enrollments.
It also developed the new Commonwealth College, a freestanding honors college at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
In efforts to make public education more efficient, the board eliminated 50 under-enrolled academic degree programs.
It has limited the number of remedial education courses offered at 4-year campuses.
Carlin said during his term that there remains much to be done in improving the quality of public higher education in Massachusetts' educational system.
"The condition of public higher education in Massachusetts is better today than it was five years ago, but we don't intend to rest on our laurels," wrote Carlin and Koplik in a letter to the Members of the Massachusetts Court last March.
"There is still much to be done to make our system one of the premier public higher education systems in the nation," they wrote.
Governor A. Paul Cellucci, who is responsible for appointing a new chair, has contacted Charlie Baker as a possible candidate for the position and successor to Carlin.
Baker, who has previously served as Secretary of Administrative Finance and is currently CEO of Harvard Van-Guard, has not yet responded to Cellucci's offer.