The University

Opening Doors to Opportunity

J. Keith Motley, PhD, UMass Boston Chancellor | December 23, 2010

For many people, the holiday season is a time for reflection, a time to count their blessings, review the year that has gone by, and think about the possibilities that the New Year will bring.

As chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston, I always find this season particularly rewarding. I reflect on my daily interactions with our students, and I’m heartened by their stories, their commitment to building better lives for themselves through education. I’m humbled when I recall my interactions with our dedicated staff and our faculty’s dedication to teaching and learning, their devotion to research that provides opportunities for student involvement, and their commitment to engaging with our surrounding communities and beyond.

I was particularly mindful of this when the university recently announced and celebrated a new $13.7 million grant to extend our partnership with the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. This grant – the National Institutes of Health evaluated our proposal as the nation’s best – allows us to continue important research in cancer treatment while addressing health disparities in minority populations and increasing community outreach and education. From its beginning, UMass Boston has pledged that it will serve its communities’ needs beyond education, forge ties between research and service, and open doors for populations who have been denied access.

Equally important, UMass Boston’s partnership with the world-renowned Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center opens doors to opportunities for hands-on cancer-focused training, outreach, and research for our minority students, post-doctoral fellows, nursing PhD students, and faculty. For example, Judith Alonzo, a senior biochemistry major, recently participated in the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program, which introduced her to the world of cancer research by placing her in a laboratory at Dana-Farber for a year.

Another former student, Lisa Barros, graduated from our Urban Scholars pre-collegiate program and participated in the CURE program four years ago while earning a nursing degree. She is now a staff nurse at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Hematology/Oncology Bone Marrow Transplant unit.

These are just two examples of the many opportunities we strive to provide for our students here at UMass Boston, whether they are in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, College of Science and Mathematics, or any of our other six colleges and graduate schools. We believe that the best education happens not only in the classroom, but also in the hospitals, schools, nonprofits, and businesses where our students are getting hands-on experience.

At UMass Boston we have a commitment to being the student-centered urban public research university of the 21st century. And looking back at the past year, I would say we are on course.

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