The University

Faculty Research Celebration

J. Keith Motley, PhD, UMass Boston Chancellor | April 28, 2011

Good afternoon, and welcome to our annual Faculty Research Celebration!

I’d like to thank Fred Laskey for offering to emcee this afternoon’s presentations and Q&A session. As you know, Fred is not only the executive director for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, he’s also a proud member of UMass Boston’s class of 1979. Welcome back to campus, Fred, we’re always glad to have you with us.

I am delighted to see so many of you here today. And I’ve been delighted with all the SEEDS week events we’ve enjoyed so far. Every year, I really look forward to taking this time to refresh and renew ourselves: intellectually, academically, and in service to our community.

And I look forward to this event in particular, because it’s a great chance to connect across silos and disciplines and buildings and fields. It’s a chance to celebrate what unites all of us at this university: our commitment to quality research.

I spoke at length at Convocation in September on the importance of research to our university and to our lives on this planet. I urged everyone present to “pledge to ourselves and to each other that we would do our best to make this academic year a year of memorable achievements in research, meeting or exceeding our most challenging goals.”

I believe that you have lived up to your pledge, and I need to thank all of you for that: students, faculty, staff, everyone. This has been a tremendous year for research at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

I’m thinking of course of the U54 grant our College of Nursing and Health Sciences, College of Science and Mathematics, and the College of Liberal Arts worked together to bring to this campus. That was big.

But I’m also thinking of a staff member, an administrative assistant who works with me in the Quinn Building, whose American studies master’s thesis was just accepted by an academic conference at the University of Heidelberg.

That was big too – and evidence of the commitment we all share to uncovering the truth together on this campus.

Our job here is to inquire into the nature of things. It can be banal. It can be heroic. Our research can save lives. It can blow minds. It can serve our own interests. It can save the world. It can give us hope.

Our research is absolutely necessary for our survival, at this university and in this world. And you are necessary to the success of our research. Keep up your incredible work.

And I want you all to make sure George is as busy as ever keeping track of your lectures, presentations, findings, and readings. I often look at the listings of events that he puts on the Healey homepage, and wish I could go to all of them. In fact, since we’re all here, I wish we could take the next… year… and have each of you present your research interests and discoveries one by one. We are doing some fascinating stuff here!

But today, we’ve made the decision to focus on two members of the faculty who are looking at one larger problem – the deleterious effects of development on our environment – from different perspectives. And I think you’re going to be really excited and inspired listening to them speak.

We invited Fred here to facilitate today because Fred is responsible for helping our Commonwealth maintain a safe water supply... so he and Bob Chen have a lot in common. Bob has studied Boston Harbor for years, along with other natural waters, seeking to understand the health and sustainability of our ecosystems.

And both Bob and Fred have a lot in common with Martin Calkins, who is looking at emerging economies and asking, is it ethical and wise for them to follow in Western footsteps just as the serious consequences of our lifestyles become manifest?

These three are an excellent representation of the depth of research, the breadth of concern, and the height of social responsibility that our community at UMass Boston embodies. I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say.

I’d like to thank you again for joining us today, and for all that you do on behalf of this university, our community, the world… and research itself. Thank you.