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June 26, 2014

UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley. (Flickr)

It’s been 50 years since Massachusetts Governor Endicott Peabody signed a bill creating a Boston campus for the University of Massachusetts, a move that came after UMass Amherst turned down more than 1,000 qualified applicants from the city.

Since then, UMass Boston has evolved dramatically, moving from downtown to Dorchester, merging with Boston State College, and forging a partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate. Today, the public research university serves more than 16,000 students. But the school’s mission, marked by a staunch commitment to urban residents and issues, remains the same.

There's no shortage of issues facing higher education. While state governments have cut funding to public institutions, tuition and fees at public colleges and universities have skyrocketed. Some public schools have fallen into a competitive arms race, hoping to attract prospective students while going into debt. These schools have turned to out-of-state students who are willing and able to pay higher tuition. It's a vicious cycle. 

For the past seven years, UMass Boston’s evolution has been guided by Chancellor J. Keith Motley. WGBH's Emily Rooney spoke with Motley about his effort to expand the university's academic offerings and grow enrollment to meet workforce demands.

"I think what distinguishes us is that our focus is on Boston and its great communities," Motley says. "Ninety thousand of our alumni are in this great commonwealth serving because they had the opportunity to attend the University of Massachusetts Boston."

higher education, higher ed, Umass, increasing access and success

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