LOWELL -- The exodus of city administrators continued Friday as the city's top planner, Adam Baacke, accepted a similar position at UMass Lowell.

On Tuesday, City Manager Bernie Lynch announced he would resign effective March 10. On Thursday, Auditor Sheryl Wright said she would retire Feb. 28. The city is already without a chief financial officer; Thomas Moses resigned late last year to accept the equivalent of a town manager's job in Hudson.

Given so many departures, Lynch and UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan agreed that Baacke will not start his new position until March 3. And for several months after that, Baacke will be free to assist the city in its increasing number of transitions.

"Adam Baacke is a very sought-after, highly-regarded municipal planner," Meehan said. "I'm very pleased we're keeping him in Lowell.

"We're striving to make Lowell a national model for urban campuses," Meehan added. "Adam will only enhance the city/campus collaboration."

Baacke, whose title will be director of campus planning and development, was selected through a national search. He applied Oct. 7, 2013. Chosen from more than 50 applicants, he will replace Beth Rubenstein, who left the university in August 2013 to become deputy director of planning and development for the Massachusetts Port Authority. Rubenstein was preceded by Diana Prideaux-Brune, a former city planner and applicant for the city manager's job that went to Lynch nearly eight years ago.


The position was posted from Sept. 25 to Oct. 29, 2013. His salary will be $125,000. His salary in Lowell is $118,325.

Baacke has worked for the city of Lowell's Department of Planning and Development for 14 years, including serving for the last six years as assistant city manager and director of planning and development. In that role, he has overseen a 50-person municipal planning and development services office with responsibilities that include oversight of the city's long-range planning, urban renewal, transportation and construction projects.

"Adam's knowledge of the city of Lowell and his experience working closely with UMass Lowell for years on planning and development projects make him uniquely qualified for this position," said Meehan.

Baacke holds a bachelor's degree in American history from Cornell University and a master's degree in public affairs from UMass Boston. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and the Society for College and University Planning. He began his city of Lowell career as a neighborhood planner and went on to hold positions including associate planner, chief planner and deputy director of economic and community development before being named to his current post.

As UMass Lowell's director of campus planning and development, Baacke will lead the creation of plans for future capital programs for the university's buildings, facilities, infrastructure, landscape and related services.

"I am very much looking forward to this opportunity to be a part of a dynamic team that is supporting the university during this time of unprecedented growth and expansion," Baacke said. "My experience in Lowell will enable me to help reinforce cohesive and collaborative partnerships with others in the city to ensure this progress benefits both the campus and the community."

"Adam is the perfect choice to build on UMass Lowell's success as it continues to expand and elevate," said Lynch. "Adam has done great work for the city and is leaving big shoes to fill, but I am happy that he is taking on a new challenge."

Campus-wide planning continues to be a key area of focus for the university, which has projects in progress including:

* A new, $95 million student-engagement center located at University Crossing that is under construction and set to open for the fall 2014 semester;

* The Pulichino-Tong Business Building, the new home of the Manning School of Business, scheduled to open in 2016;

* Renovations underway on two existing residence halls scheduled to be completed for next fall;

* A science and engineering building renewal project, the first phase of which Gov. Deval Patrick announced in November will receive $20 million in state funding.

It was also learned Friday that Senior Planner Aaron Clausen is also departing. Clausen told The Sun he his last day will be Jan. 24 as he leaves to become the director of planning and community development in Beverly. Clausen's budgeted salary for the fiscal year was $65,292.

Follow Scott on Twitter @cscottlowellsun.