The University

Season for Thanks

Gratitude is the theme at this time of year, and I am thankful for plenty.

I am grateful for my wonderful family and loved ones, of course, and for my excellent colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Boston for committing themselves so thoroughly to the growth of this institution. I am grateful that we are educating more than 15,400 caring and capable students at our institution, and grateful for the quality of that education.

I am also grateful for the community that provides a home for our campus, and for the support that we are able to give each other. Truly, the University of Massachusetts Boston aims to be a good neighbor to the Dorchester community.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to do so is to give back. Dorchester gives us so much – students, faculty, staff, space, and patience. And in return, we try to give back with a world-class faculty and education for students, and support for local businesses and programs that serve our community.

For example, just last month First Lady Michelle Obama recognized our Project ALERTA program for Latino students as one of 15 programs nationwide to be commended for its long-term commitment to youth. I am also pleased to see so many local seniors visit our campus to participate in lifelong learning activities in our OLLI program.

This year in particular, I am grateful that we were able to make a difference to Dorchester’s The Boston Home by hosting the facility’s fundraising gala at our Campus Center last week. Those who attended helped support the renovation of The Boston Home’s Wellness and Education Center, which will enable The Boston Home to provide expanded services to adults with physical disabilities.

I am also grateful that last month we were invited to help promote peace in the community by working with the Boston Police Department, the Mayor’s Office, and some remarkable youths who participate in the BPD’s anti-violence programs. Using artwork depicting the students’ understanding of peace, our graphics team transformed their drawings into billboard-sized messages. Billboard space was donated by Clear Channel throughout Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury, providing a more relevant and meaningful message than the advertisements typically seen overhead.

This project was a step toward hope and positivism. And it served to link many different communities – UMass Boston, the Boston Police Department, local teenagers and city residents, and the business community – together in ways they often don’t get to experience. I am proud of this effort, and once again grateful for the opportunities the University of Massachusetts Boston has to show our appreciation for our community.

I wish you all a very joyful Thanksgiving and look forward to finding new ways to collaborate with and give back to our neighbors. I invite you to learn more about Boston’s only public university and our commitment to our community by visiting