Sunday, March 16, 2003

A close-up look at Bulger's office. The Globe's Patrick Healy today answers some of Media Log's questions about the cost of UMass president Bill Bulger's operation. As has been the case with Bulger's entire career, it is a mixed bag. Essentially Bulger's done good, while at the same time doing very, very well, both for himself and his friends.

One thing that's clear is that Governor Mitt Romney can't save anywhere near the $14 million he claims he'll save by getting rid of Bulger's office. Sure, he can save a few hundred thousand dollars if the positions of some of Bulger's less-qualified underlings are eliminated (and they should be). But most of the so-called savings will simply be pushed down to the campus level.

Nor is Bulger's $309,000 salary wildly out of line with those of the presidents of other major state university systems, according to a chart that accompanies Healy's piece but that does not appear to be on the Globe's website. The head of the University of California makes $361,000, and the head of the University of North Carolina makes $300,485. On the other hand, their systems have triple the number of students that UMass has.

One thing remains clear. As long as this is portrayed as a personal fight between Bulger and Romney, no one is going to focus on what's best for the state's higher-education system.

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