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Patrick: ...Champion... Of Higher Education

Governor-elect Addresses College Students

By James Vaznis
THE BOSTON GLOBE


AMHERST

Governor-elect Deval L. Patrick promised college leaders, students, and others Friday that he would be a champion of public higher education, but warned that state finances were limited.

“I heard through the campaign and today that public higher education has never had a champion through a governor, you are going to have one now,” Patrick told a cheering crowd of more than 600, who packed an auditorium at the University of Massachusetts.

“I’m also realistic and you need to be too,” added Patrick, who spoke at the first of a series of community meetings that he sponsored yesterday. “Everything we want to do can’t be done at once.”

Patrick’s remarks drew a mixed reaction. Some students were disappointed in his lack of specifics, while university officials said his appearance alone was significant.

Patrick said he was studying a Senate bill that would provide an additional $400 million in funding to public higher education over the next five years as well as a report released this week by UMass faculty and students. That report called on Patrick to freeze tuition and fees and eventually make public higher education free.