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April 12, 2018

University of Massachusetts president Marty Meehan is pushing back against skeptics who say UMass Amherst's plan to acquire Mount Ida College will undermine UMass Boston and that UMass interfered with Mount Ida's merger talks with Lasell College.

Some Mount Ida faculty and staff have suggested that UMass interfered with the school's merger talks with Lasell College, which could have kept their school open.

In a written statement, Meehan says UMass did have previous discussions with Mount Ida, but those ended before Mount Ida's merger talks with Lasell. And Meehan insists Mount Ida did not choose UMass over Lasell.

Meehan also says UMass Amerst is assuming the $55 to 70 million in debt to acquire Mount Ida's campus, and that has no financial impact on UMass Boston, which he describes as on a path to financial stability. Meehan says UMass Amherst alone is absorbing the costs and the Newton campus fills a need.

"Students from UMass Amherst who do internships with companies in Massachusetts, particularly those in the 128 belt - those students will have an opportunity for housing that will be reasonably priced, rather than to attempt to find another site, build new housing that would be expensive," Meehan said.

Education officials have demanded more details about Mount Ida's plan to shut down. The college has given the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education its notice of intent to close, but still no word on its official closure plan, which the Department must approve.

In a statement, Mount Ida Board of Trustees Chairman Carmin Reiss said the deal with Lasell collapsed because there was no guarantee that Mount Ida's operating costs would be covered the following year.

Related: Education Officials Demand More Information About Mount Ida's Plan To Close

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