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Mass. Appeal

Massachusetts is ideal to feature in our state-focused series. As with previous editions on the state of higher education in California, New York and North Carolina, among others, in this edition we address issues unique to Massachusetts’ large and diverse higher education landscape. Massachusetts has the longest tradition of higher education of any state.

However, this is not meant to be an exhaustive look, just a peek at some of the key higher education issues going on. Among them, the void of minority leadership in university presidencies.

In “The Presidential Search Plateau,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Kenneth J. Cooper writes about the 1970s trailblazing appointment of a Black administrator, Dr. Randolph Bromery, to the helm of the state’s public flagship institution, the University of Massachusetts Amherst. That breakthrough appointment, Cooper reports, did not usher in sustained progress in diversifying university presidential ranks. There hasn’t been another permanent person of color appointed to that UMass Amherst position since then — or, for that matter, to any of the elite universities in Massachusetts.

Also in this edition, contributing editor Hilary Hurd Anyaso reports on the ways women’s colleges in Massachusetts — which has the second highest number of women’s colleges behind Pennsylvania — maintain their relevancy in a highly competitive postsecondary sector. For many of the colleges briefly profiled, this includes a commitment to diversity. Pine Manor College, for instance, was founded in 1911 to serve the commonwealth’s elite daughters, but has embraced a mission of educating women to break the cycle of poverty. The smallest of the six women’s colleges in Massachusetts, Pine Manor is a minority-majority college where Black, Hispanic and Asian students make up 30, 15.3 and 5.1 percent of the student body, respectively. Read more in “It’s a Woman’s World (at least at these colleges).”

From a profile on a prominent Harvard University professor to an update on a predominantly Black community college to an examination of one university’s unique approach to Asian American studies, we hope you enjoy this glimpse into higher education in the Bay State.

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