Date: April 4, 2013
Department: News & Public Information
I am honored to be the Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Mr. President and Trustees, I am humbled by the confidence you have entrusted in me and feel deeply grateful for your steadfast support of UMass Dartmouth and our four sibling universities in the UMass Family.
Throughout the search process and in my first nine months, I have been blessed with your unwavering commitment and your keen understanding of the unique opportunities and challenges we face at UMass Dartmouth and in our region.
In the summer of 2009 when my family and I enjoyed a leisurely long weekend in Concord some 70 miles from here, I was enchanted by our visits to the homes of Louisa May Alcott -- I read Little Women three times as a child -- and of those intellectual giants Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and walked along Walden Pond to the area of the cabin where Henry David Thoreau once lived. Little did I know that only three years later, I would move from Florida to Massachusetts and become your new Chancellor.
I am thrilled to be here. Living near the woods close to the marshes of Buzzards Bay at one end and to the Paskamansett River on the other, I awaken every morning to the bucolic beauty of New England, to the cacophony of twittering birds and to an ever-changing seasonal landscape that nourishes my mind and my soul.
And yes, I do know about nor'easters.
I wish to thank enormously the dedicated members of the Inauguration Committee who toiled tirelessly in the last many weeks and months to accomplish the comprehensive repertoire of activities planned during this Inauguration Week. I owe a debt of gratitude to John Hoey, Jen Menard, David Milstone, and our COO Deb McLaughlin, Provost Alex Fowler, our Cabinet members and a veritable army of diligent staff for all you have done to make this event-filled week fruitful, enjoyable, and unforgettable, and above all, focused on the achievements of our students, alumni, and faculty.
I am moved by the caring presence here of many who enrich my life, who have ensconced me in the shelter of their love and inspire me everyday: Joel, my husband and "rock of Gibraltar" of 30 years; our daughters Regina and Claire who make us proud and bring us joy; my brothers and sisters, as well as my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, and my Aunt Connie; my long-time mentors President Mark Rosenberg, Dean Emeritus Janet Allan and Erik Joh; numerous colleagues and friends from Florida International University; and Executive Director Bob Donley from the State of Iowa Board of Regents.
My 89-year-old mother was discharged from the hospital a couple of weeks ago so she was unable to make it here. An elementary school teacher for 38 years-- her first teaching experience in 1945 was under a tree writing on the ground with a stick after the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II -- it was her constant guidance, innumerable sacrifices, and abiding faith that have sustained and inspired me throughout my life.
I am profoundly indebted to my predecessor Chancellors Jean MacCormack, Peter Cressy, and John Brazil not only for generously sharing with me their support and wisdom, but for the enduring and long-lasting impact of their leadership, and for all that they have done to advance UMass Dartmouth to the venerable institution it is today.
I thank immensely Governor Deval Patrick and our legislators, who are also our alumni -- Rep. Chris Markey, Senator Mark Montigny, Rep. Tony Cabral, Senator Mike Rodrigues, and Rep. Robert Koczera; and our city and town leaders Mayor John Mitchell of New Bedford, Mayor Will Flanagan of Fall River (also our alumnus), and Town Administrator David Cressman of Dartmouth for their unswerving commitment and belief in the pivotal role that UMass Dartmouth plays in this region.
I thank Congressman William Keating, who like me is new to the SouthCoast and has proven to be a wonderful partner in a short period of time.
I am grateful to my four brother Chancellors in the UMass family: Chancellors Kumble Subbaswamy, Keith Motley, Michael Collins, and Marty Meehan; and to my four brother Presidents in the Connect family: Presidents Dana Mohler-Faria, Jack Sbrega, John Cox, and Charlie Wall for their presence here, for their special bond of camaraderie and colleagueship, and for sharing unstintingly their invaluable insights and counsel.
AN AUSPICIOUS DAY
What an auspicious day it is to have this inauguration, on a crisp New England spring day which, in the words of Thoreau, "The year beginning with younger hope than ever! The faint silvery warblings heard over the partially bare and moist fields from the bluebird, the song sparrow, and the red-wing, as if the last flakes of winter tinkled as they fell! . . . The brooks sing carols and glees to the spring." Yes, today the brooks sing carols and glees to the spring!
Today, we are gathered here in solidarity as one community with a common purpose to celebrate and commemorate our storied past and our substantive and monumental accomplishments. As well, we are here to forge a shared future not only for the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth but also for our Southeastern Massachusetts region. There is no question that the two are inextricably linked in our history, in our past, and undoubtedly, in our future.
It has been a long, arduous, but hope-filled road from the genesis of this great university in 1895, from its humble beginnings as the New Bedford Textile School and the Bradford Durfee Textile School to its evolution to become the Southeastern Massachusetts Textile Institute in 1960; to the creation of its campus here in 1964; its transition to Southeastern Massachusetts University in 1969; and finally, to its entrance into the University of Massachusetts System in 1991 as the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
From the very beginning, it was the vision, determination, resourcefulness, tenacity, and ingenuity of all those who came before us that made the University what it is today.
A PERSONAL STORY
It has been a long, arduous, and hope-filled road from my modest town in the Philippines some 7,000 miles from here where I grew up in a home without a television, a refrigerator, a telephone, or a shower. My mother was not only a teacher but the library property custodian, so I had unlimited access to an abundance of books. I read voraciously, incessantly, and exuberantly.
It was one of those books that I read in third grade, titled "Nurses Who Led The Way," that evoked a burning desire to be like the heroic nurses I read about: Clara Barton, Mary Breckenridge, and Mary Frances Cabrini. I wanted to be like them.
My father was a veteran of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and it was through the transfer of his GI Bill educational benefits to his children that I was able to obtain a college education.
Just like countless alumni I have met over the last many months, I am here today nurtured by the love and support of my family, friends and mentors.
A MAGICAL PLACE OF LEARNING AND DISCOVERY
Today marks the beginning of my 10th month in Massachusetts. My adventure of looking, learning, and listening in the last several months has led me to glimpses of the extraordinary faculty and leaders of UMass Dartmouth through the stories of the alumni and students that I have encountered.
I discerned in the last nine months the magic of this place, a special place of learning, discovery, and transformation, a place that captures the imagination and as Thomas More said, "that makes visible what is hidden as a seed."
That was the magic that alumni, students, and faculty spoke about when they recounted how UMass Dartmouth touched and transformed them.
That was what Don MacCormack, Technical Director of the Naval Underwater Warfare Center, spoke of when he said, "It was in the class with Professor Tom Curry when the light bulb turned on, and I knew this was the work I wanted to do." Both Don MacCormack and Dr. Tom Curry, former Provost are here today.
That was what Jack Hawes, retired CEO of Universal Fasteners, who grew up in the town of Dartmouth, revealed to me recently when we met, "The university meant everything to me, " he said. "It was the only opportunity I had. It was Professor Fred Mattfield who mentored me and remained in touch with me from the time I graduated till the day of his death."
That was what Sherilyn McCoy, the President of Avon Products -- one of only 20 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, who I met in New York City -- remarked, "It was my professor who said, 'You must go to Graduate School. I will help you with your application and prepare an excellent recommendation.'"
That was what Bob Tavares, President of the Electronics Group of Crane Aerospace & Electronics who is here today -- who designed with his team the electronic suite for the F15 fighter plane -- disclosed when he stated, "I would not be here without Professor Peter Rizzi."
That was what Esther Emard -- who earned a Nursing degree here and served as COO for 14 years of the National Committee on Quality Assurance in Washington DC and who is present today - meant when she said, "I came from a family of eight siblings and our parents could not afford to send anyone to college. I would not have made it in my career without the opportunity and the scholarship at UMass Dartmouth."
And that was what a graduating Physics student, Khayla England, recently said about her research trips to Sweden, "I had the opportunity to do this," she remarked, "only because of the mentorship of Professor Grant O'Rielly."
My most salient discovery in the last nine months is the bold and extensive imprint of UMass Dartmouth and our faculty who are engaged teachers and caring mentors on the lives of individuals who grew up here in New Bedford, in Fall River, and in surrounding communities of the SouthCoast for whom UMass Dartmouth is a beacon of hope and educational opportunity.
In the last three days, you must have read the names and seen the pictures of a sampling of our alumni published in the local newspapers and learned of their phenomenal success and incredible legacy of leadership. In arts and design, in engineering and economic innovation, in business and entrepreneurship, in health care, in law and public service, and in marine sciences, our alumni have made stellar accomplishments that bring us pride and renew our confidence in the future.
We have to preserve that legacy and continue it for future generations. We owe that to the visionary leaders in our history and to the working-class men and women who toiled in the textile mills and in their fishing boats who dreamed and aspired of a brighter future for their children.
We face one of the most dauntingly challenging periods in the history of higher education in the United States. Increasingly, people are posing the question, is a college education worth it ? Paradoxically, as public funding for colleges and universities has diminished in the last decade, expectations both from governments and the public have continued to rise.
What is UMass Dartmouth's role in this rapidly changing educational landscape ?
In the next two weeks, we will launch our strategic planning process UMassDTransform2020, which will take one year to complete. It will deploy the combined potential and power of our faculty, staff, students, and community partners to craft a collective vision and chart a bold and fearless course for our future.
We have to reinvent a university of transformation and a university of innovation for our students and our region.
It sounds simple and straightforward: we have to focus on students. Chronically plagued by low educational attainment and high unemployment, our region has lagged behind in economic prosperity in the commonwealth.
Whereas college degree attainment is 38% in the United States and 54% in Massachusetts, it is 10% in New Bedford and 14% in Fall River. A study by CEOs for Cities ascertained that 58% of per capita income in any city is attributed to its college attainment rate. Sixty percent (60%) of US jobs will require some form of postsecondary education according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
To complicate matters, a troubling University of Michigan study reported that the disparity in college completion rates between rich and poor students has grown by about 50% since the 1980s.
Hundreds of young people in our region drop out in K-12 and never reach UMass Dartmouth or any other higher educational institution. Their potential remains forever untapped and their futures forfeited needlessly because of lack of opportunity, motivation, or resources.
We need to establish collaborative and broad partnerships with our K-12 public schools to build a college-going culture and a pipeline of success for our young students.
At the university, we have to work assiduously to promote educational opportunity for those students transferring from our community colleges, for veterans returning from duty, and for those coming from our diverse and currently underrepresented communities.
We have to address the vexing academic, social, and financial barriers that impede students from remaining in college and inhibit them from completing degrees.
We have to diversify our approaches to pedagogy and invest in the new disruptive technologies that have invaded our teaching and learning spaces, expand our online programs and explore massive open online courses or MOOCS.
We have to significantly expand partnerships with corporations and organizations for student internships because we know from the National Association of Colleges and Employers Survey that 60% of college graduates in 2012 who held internships received at least one job offer.
We must hasten to embrace the world and globalize our academic programs, our faculty and our students, recognizing that what happens in Fall River is connected to events in Funchal and Fukushima; and that decisions made in New Bedford can have an impact in New Delhi or Nairobi.
RESEARCH AND SCHOLARSHIP
We have to increase and invigorate our research. We have to integrate knowledge and break down interdisciplinary barriers. Connections among multiple disciplines are critical and experience has shown that revolutionary scientific breakthroughs tend to emerge at the intersection of the disciplines.
Accordingly, we need to assemble more interdisciplinary faculty research teams and prepare students to be grounded in more than one discipline to solve complex research problems. The work of Dr. Sigal Gottlieb and Dr. Robert Fisher and their colleagues with the newly established interdisciplinary Center for Computational Science is an illustrative model that has to be replicated in other areas.
We need to invest in more faculty hires in the areas of critical importance to our region and the commonwealth. New avenues of scholarly exploration need to transcend STEM and expand to STEAMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Culture, Mathematics, and Music).
In partnership with our colleague universities in the UMass System, we have to augment our programs and research in health. This priority is driven by factors including full implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the increased demand for primary care providers, health care being the largest industry in the SouthCoast, and the prevalence of profound health disparities in the region.
UMass Dartmouth must strengthen research commercialization and technology transfer if we are to be successful in fostering economic prosperity. Our successful alumni such as Jim French, President for R&D of Panasonic and Tom Lambalot, a prodigious entrepreneur who has been an executive of several companies, who are both present today, can help us with their considerable expertise and experience.
With our Charlton College of Business, the College of Engineering and others, we must foster entrepreneurship, create an innovation ecosystem, and generate small businesses and start-up companies that will yield higher-paying jobs and retain young talent in this region.
We are grateful to Chuck Charlton and his daughter Stacy who are here today for their continuing support and pledge to do well in business and enterpreneurship in the tradition of Chuck's grandfather Earle Perry Charlton, one of the five founders of the F.W. Woolworth Company.
UMass Dartmouth must strengthen its role as an anchor institution in this region, as an intellectual catalyst and instrument for economic, social, cultural, and civic engagement.
The impact of our School of Marine Science and Technology research on the fishing industry and on coastal preservation in the region has been amply demonstrated in previous years and will continue with the expansion of SMAST, the new Marine Fisheries Institute and our increasing focus on marine renewable energy and environmental sustainability.
The catalytic role of our College of Visual and Performing Arts in the revitalization of New Bedford spawning art studios, art galleries, restaurants and cafes downtown will continue. Our digital media program has been ranked in the top 50 nationally and holds promise for both innovation and creative economies. We pledge to collaborate with Mayor Mitchell in his plans to transform the waterfront anchored by the arts, culture, and marine science.
As we complete construction of the Massachusetts Accelerator for Biomanufacturing and link it with the Advanced Technology Manufacturing Center in Fall River, we will align the hiring of faculty clusters with other life sciences and biotechnology investments in UMass by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. We expect from these investments a growth in research, in research commercialization, and in new companies.
And we accept earnestly our vital role in developing an engaged citizenry and in building a democracy and a civil society. Our new Law School, the only public law school in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement will spearhead our efforts in this regard.
I express sincere gratitude to Bob Leduc -- another alumnus -- and his lovely wife Jeanne -- for the generous gift that has significantly increased the percentage of students who participate in service learning and volunteer work. Moving toward the future, we will aspire to raise that percentage beyond the current 60%.
FISCAL AND FACILITY SUSTAINABILITY
And finally, we have to address fiscal and facilities sustainability. Already in a short nine months, we have been tested by adversity.
We have been compelled to examine our actions and commitments with clarity and courage, to focus on our priorities, and to employ creativity in finding solutions. As Lord Byron said, "Adversity is the first path to truth."
Like other public institutions of higher education, we have to be less dependent on public support and more self-reliant financially. We plan to do that by growing entrepreneurial ventures, online programs, research funding, and fundraising.
In this next decade, we have to invest in bolstering our physical infrastructure. While the iconic Brutalistic architecture of Paul Rudolph - a reflection of the academic utopia he envisioned - has made our campus distinctive, the buildings constructed in the 1960's need, in the words of architectural critic Robert Campbell, "reinvention for another era." What you have seen in the Claire T. Carney Library at the dedication Tuesday is illustrative of what we can do and what we must do with the rest of the campus.
Building on the successes of the past and the foundations laid by my predecessors, I pledge to work with you collectively to transform UMass Dartmouth for the next decades.
We will do so with the same enduring values and the best qualities that have sustained this university from its founding in 1895: respect, integrity, fairness, courage, creativity, and dedication.
We will do so as we adroitly adapt to the accelerating pace of change in the world around us. John F. Kennedy once said, "Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
And so to all of you gathered here I ask:
- Will you work with me to reinvent our university of transformation and university of innovation?
- Will you work with me to tell the UMass Dartmouth story, how this magical place transforms lives?
- Will you give what you are capable of giving -- your time, your mentorship, or your resources to build a better UMass Dartmouth for future generations ?
Let us then embrace change and face the promise, potential, and possibilities of our future together. I feel uncommonly privileged and excited by the prospect.