Chancellor's Monday Message
Monday, December 9, 2013    

A Great Light Has Gone Out

"A great light has gone out in the world," declared British Prime Minister David Cameron in a tribute to Nelson Mandela. Everywhere these past few days, humankind mourns our profound loss of a leader who endured almost three decades of imprisonment and deprivation in a heroic fight for equality and human rights. Faced with adversity and brutality, he displayed toward his adversaries not bitterness nor retribution but uncommon grace, magnanimity, and forgiveness. If you missed the soul-stirring poem His Day is Done composed by Maya Angelou, here is the link to the YouTube video clip click here.

 

Did you know that the UMass System awarded Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel--a humanitarian and Chancellor of the University of Cape Town--honorary degrees in 2006 click here? Did you know that UMass was one of the first public universities in the United States to divest from companies engaged in business with South Africa's apartheid regime? Did you know that some of those activists were our faculty members? South African Justice Albie Sachs, who spoke on our campus in April after the Boston Marathon bombing and again in October, and who was appointed by Mandela, was exiled and lost an arm and sight in one eye from a car bombing as a result of his advocacy for freedom. As our very own Senior VP Marcie Williams wrote, "we will honor your life's work with our striving to become more complete human beings." Will you share with me your ideas on activities in remembrance of Mandela and in observance of his passing?

 

And speaking about selflessness and generosity, I was moved to hear that CVPA students in the Star Store have led a fundraiser--now close to their $2,000 goal--to acquire a new motorized scooter for our Chinese MFA student Xi Nan. Kudos to all of you!

 

I spent most of the week in Boston, not only for BOT committee meetings but also to attend the Annual NEASC (New England Association of Colleges and Schools) meeting. I gained valuable insights from the exceptional presentations, especially one by Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson and Chair of the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund. Sir Barber cautioned us about the avalanche of change coming to higher education occasioned by the transformative impact of globalization and technology; the crisis in the global economy; increasing costs of college education; public uncertainty about the value of college; and the fact that content is free, accessible, and ubiquitous. He averred that depending on our response, the next 50 years can either result in a golden era for higher education or utter destruction of the system. I invite you to read An Avalanche is Coming click here and ponder with me the answers to these queries:

  • How can we embrace change and view the avalanche as an opportunity?
  • How can we make UMass Dartmouth distinctive?
  • When content is free, accessible, and ubiquitous for students, what is the role of UMass Dartmouth?

 Last Friday, I attended the holiday celebration at the Portuguese Consulate co-hosted by Consul Pedro Carneiro and our Center for Portuguese Studies Director Joo Paraskeva. Also in attendance were Congressman Bill Keating, Senator Michael Rodrigues, Rep. Antonio Cabral, and Rep. Robert Koczera, as well as Prof. Glaucia Silva, Prof. Anna Klobucka, Prof. Frank Sousa, Prof. Victor Mendes, Prof. Gloria de S, Prof. Memory Holloway, Prof. Tim Walker, Prof. Michael Baum, and Prof. Jim Bobrick. Dr. Paraskeva presented an ambitious strategic plan for the Center, in collaboration with our PhD Program in Portuguese Studies and Department of Portuguese Studies. I felt galvanized by the presence of our talented students! I met Serena Rivera, who completed a Fulbright fellowship in Brazil, and Teresa Valdez, Ines Lima, Geraldo Soares, and Americo Motta.

 

Congratulations to Prof. Dan Georgianna, who was quoted in the December 1 Boston Globe article "Salvation in Scallops" that cited the impact of SMAST faculty research on federal regulatory policy regarding scallops! Belatedly, compliments as well to Prof. Peter Sandby-Thomas for his testimony on maritime disputes between China and its neighbor nations to the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats! Our own Anna-Rae LeClaire was one of five students from across the country awarded the prestigious Outstanding Peer Educator award from the Bacchus Network. Our peer health education program has received numerous regional awards from the Bacchus Network over the past several years; however, this is the first national award we have received.     

 

Have a great week, everyone!

Chancellor's Signature
UMass Dartmouth