Warning the UMass Boston community to prepare for muddy shoes and ringing ears as the construction phase of the university’s 25-year master plan begins, Chancellor J. Keith Motley led the celebration of the start of a new academic year with students, faculty, administration, and staff at the annual Convocation on September 13.
Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Ellen O’Connor and Provost Winston Langley provided updates on the university’s activities; their remarks were followed by a brief welcome from UMass President Jack Wilson, and then the chancellor’s address, titled “The New Student-Centered Urban Public Research University: Research as an Approach to Life.”
Chancellor Motley discussed the highlights and accomplishments of the last year at UMass Boston, and laid out a vision for the year –and years – ahead, which includes the development of the Bayside Exposition Center space, and construction of the Integrated Sciences Complex, the General Academic Building I, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
“We’re moving forward on our 25-year master plan, from drawings on paper, to concrete and steel, bricks and mortar… Be prepared to get mud on your boots, and hear the constant music of pile driving,” Chancellor Motley said.
Provost Langley’s remarks also touched on the university’s plans for its future. By the year 2025, the provost said, UMass Boston should be capable of serving more than 20,000 students, as it moves to a Research University/High, as designated by the Carnegie Foundation, and increases its research funding to $150-300 million.
Research was the central theme of Chancellor Motley’s address, as he encouraged students, faculty, and staff in the crowded Campus Center ballroom to recognize and understand the role of research in their lives at the university, and to use their collective capacity for unbiased truth-seeking to solve the problems of this and future generations.
“We do not have long lead times to address some of our urgent challenges, such as climate change, or the prejudices that inform our behavior,” Chancellor Motley said. “So we must act now. The foundation for our action is to be what research universities should always be: centers that lead in the pursuit of truths. This, morally, is [our] ultimate goal.”
Following the chancellor’s speech, keynote speaker Roger Ferguson. Jr., PhD, president and chief executive officer of the retirement management firm TIAA-CREF, delivered his address, “Confronting our Challenges: Harnessing Individual and Institutional Strengths.” Ferguson, who joined faculty and staff for a luncheon and question-and-answer session after his speech, was vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board for seven years, and served as a member of President Obama’s transition team.
The 2010 Convocation kicked off what university officials are hoping will be an auspicious academic year. According to Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Kathleen Teehan, who emceed the morning’s program, for the first time in university history, student enrollment has surpassed 15,000. Vice Chancellor Ellen O’Connor celebrated the university’s commitment to financial aid at a time when the state is cutting its budget for public higher education. And each speaker from student to chancellor spoke with anticipation and excitement for the changes the university is making, both physically and within its institutes and colleges.
President Wilson echoed the positive tone in his welcome. “When you want to feel energy, intensity, and commitment, you come to UMass Boston,” he said.