In Convocation Speech, Chancellor Motley Lays Out Vision for Next 50 Years

Colleen Locke | September 17, 2015
In Convocation Speech, Chancellor Motley Lays Out Vision for Next 50 Years

Image by: Harry Brett

Former MassDOT Secretary Jeffrey Mullan Also Addresses UMass Boston Students during Annual Convocation Exercises

As the University of Massachusetts Boston marks 50 years since the first students started class, Chancellor J. Keith Motley answered the question of what UMass Boston needs to become in the next half century.

“So much of the past 50 years has been dedicated to overcoming barriers that created exclusion—exclusion from high-quality university education, exclusion from academic and social experiences, and exclusion from solid careers and solid salaries. The next 50 years will be about leading in the areas of inclusion,” Motley said during Thursday’s convocation address.

Motley also said UMass Boston must lead in the areas of student success and globalization, start a discussion around the integration of knowledge, be intimately involved in the broader field of education, and create collaborations that span the world. To that end, the chancellor has asked Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Winston Langley to ensure the structure is in place to fulfill the university’s commitment to engagement and community-engaged scholarship, and create new Chancellor’s Awards for Community Engaged Scholarship and Community Engagement, which will be awarded beginning with next year’s convocation. 

Motley also announced the opportunity for UMass Boston faculty members to earn a $10,000 Robert and Donna Manning Faculty Excellence Award. Robert Manning, a member of the UMass Board of Trustees, announced Wednesday he is funding the award for each of the UMass campuses.

Following the chancellor’s annual update to the university community, Jeffrey Mullan, partner at Foley Hoag, LLC, and the former secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, spoke on “The Physical Environment and Human Development." Mullan, who was attending law school at night while working on the Big Dig during the day, challenged the students on their thinking of the current construction under way at UMass Boston.


“For you, more construction might mean more detours, more disruption and less parking. It is, I expect, a hassle, but that’s the wrong way to think about it,” Mullan said. “What you see going on outside those windows is not as its core a physical development strategy – it’s a human development strategy. It’s an investment in your success.”

Mullan, a member of the UMass Board of Trustees, said life is made up a series of decisions at forks in the road. In 2006, UMass Boston leaders made the decision to embark on the master plan that is shaping the community today. With its youngest-ever student body population and largest graduate student population, Mullan says students are the transformation that is happening on the UMass Boston campus, and future transformations, both individual and collective, depend on their answers to their own forks in the road.

“I ask, who are you? And why are you here? Are you someone willing to invest in the future – in your future? Are you willing to make the hard choices necessary to establish a strong foundation, even if it requires that you stop what you had planned to do and rebuild something again?”

Earlier in the speaking program, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Ellen O’Connor updated the campus community on the physical changes to the campus. She said University Hall (formerly known as General Academic Building No. 1) will be open the first day of the Spring 2016 semester. She also said residence halls, to open in the fall of 2018, are in the preliminary design stage, and that a design firm is being selected for a 1,400-car parking garage to open on the main campus in late 2018. An internal process is under way to select the site. Existing academic buildings will be renovated starting in 2017, and elevators will be replaced in Wheatley and McCormack halls, the Quinn Administration Building, and the Clark Athletic Center starting in 2016. The first elevators to be replaced will be in Wheatley Hall.

About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 17,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit

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