Mitt Romney rarely visited the University of Massachusetts as governor, but on July 18, 2005, he called a news conference at the system’s Boston campus. It was sweltering out, but he barely broke a sweat. Standing in an underground parking garage so dilapidated it endangered the buildings above, he pledged $50 million for repairs.
What happened next would be part of a pattern marking his four-year effort to change higher education. His plan went nowhere.
Romney introduced a bill that could have paid for the garage, but he did not include a specific earmark for the project - a common way of attracting support in the Legislature. Weeks after the press conference, a high official of UMass said, he asked legislators about the garage and received only blank stares.
The Legislature ultimately gave UMass Boston $12 million, barely enough for emergency repairs, and the garage continued to crumble. The cost of fixing it went up. A year after Romney came calling, UMass deemed it unfixable and shut it down.