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March 07, 2017

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan delivering the "State of the University" address Monday evening. (Courtesy of UMass)

In the first-ever “State of the University” address Monday evening, University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan shot back against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, and outlined the university's economic role to Massachusetts taxpayers and lawmakers.

Speaking at the University of Massachusetts Club in Boston, Meehan said the five-campus university system thrives from the free exchange of people and ideas from around the world, and pledged to fight the Trump administration's revised immigration order. 

"Closing our minds and our borders does nothing to achieve our goals," Meehan said. "Public universities, especially those as important to their states as UMass, won't stand idly by while federal policies undermine our mission so directly. We must stand up and speak out."

Meehan said international students and faculty help the university solve global problems, and creating fear and anxiety undermines the school's mission.

During his speech, Meehan also argued that the five-campus system serves Massachusetts in a way that, he says, private universities do not.

"Since 1986, enrollment of Massachusetts residents at the top eight private universities by ranking has declined by 72 percent. Harvard, MIT, Tufts, BC, Brandeis, BU, Northeastern and WPI down 72 percent in enrollment of Massachusetts residents. UMass educates nearly three times as many Massachusetts residents as those eight schools combined,” Meehan said.

Meehan pointed out that although Massachusetts is the only New England state that net exports college graduates, 70 percent of UMass graduates stay and work here.

Meehan's address comes as he appeals to the Legislature and Governor Charlie Baker for more state funding. 

State funding for UMass has dropped 25 percent over the past 15 years, which the school blames for increasing tuition and fees.

Since he took the job nearly two years ago, Meehan has struggled to convince lawmakers on Beacon Hill to kick in additional funds.

Earlier: Amid State Funding Cuts, Public Research Universities Find Unlikely Advocate

confronting cost, increasing access and success, global competitiveness

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