O'Leary helps thwart higher ed amendment

S-TSouthCoast senators thwart higher ed amendment
O'Leary is "baffled by this amendment" which would end hopes of a law school at UMass-Dartmouth

By DAVID KIBBE, Standard-Times staff writer

BOSTON — SouthCoast senators squashed a surprise amendment yesterday aimed at defeating any future attempt to open a public law school at the Southern New England School of Law.

The Senate was debating legislation to overhaul financing of the state's public higher education system when the amendment was offered by two South Shore senators. It would have made a public law school subject to legislative approval.

The amendment was defeated overwhelmingly by a voice vote, with no roll call taken...

"It was a frivolous amendment orchestrated by the same special interests, mainly lobbyists and those that represent third-tier private law schools that are afraid of the good competition that a UMass law school would present," Sen. Montigny, D-New Bedford, said after the vote.

The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees proposed merging UMass Dartmouth and SNESL, but the state Board of Higher Education defeated the idea last March by an 8-3 vote. Gov. Mitt Romney personally lobbied undecided board members to vote against the proposal.

The proposal for a UMass law school was fought by lobbyists for several private law schools, including Suffolk University Law School and New England School of Law. Supporters of a public law school believe it would face even more political opposition in the Legislature.
Sens. Michael Morrissey, D-Quincy, and Robert Creedon, D-Brockton, said they filed the amendment to guarantee that the state's higher education system is fiscally responsible...

O'Leary "baffled by this amendment"

O'LearySen. Robert O'Leary (on right), D-Barnstable, the Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Higher Education, said he was "baffled by the offering of this amendment. I'm baffled that we are dealing with it now in the context of this legislation."

O'Leary said the Board of Higher Education already had the power to accept or deny an application for a public law school. Read the rest of this Standard-Times story here, and comment below.

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