Happy New Year to each and every one of you! I hope you have had a restful holiday and are amply refreshed and rejuvenated to seize promising opportunities in 2014. I was fortunate to have enjoyed a lovely respite with my family while fishing, kayaking, beachcombing, snorkeling, bird-watching and reading during the holiday interlude. This past weekend in the Everglades at Payahokee Trail -- payahokee is Seminole for "grassy waters" -- I spied a southern bald eagle, a flock of roseate spoonbills, great white herons, blue herons, ibises, and anhingas. As the naturalist John Muir enjoined us, "Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own."
These lines from T.S. Eliot resonate as we begin the new year,
"Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions
And a hundred visions and revisions
Before the taking of toast and tea."
With the Hercules storm last week blanketing our region with a foot of snow and plunging temperatures to below zero, our administrative team and staff worked diligently to ensure the safety of our campus community and protect the integrity of our facilities. They continually made rounds before and after the storm to make assessments, promptly transmitted communication about campus closure, and effectively cleared snow from roads, walkways, and parking lots to enable us to reopen on time. When you see them, please thank Police Chief Emil Fioravanti, Peter Duffy, Jeff Louro, and numerous others for a job well done!
It was a proud moment for our UMass Dartmouth community to read the January 2 Boston Globe article about student Jacob Miller, whose policy advocacy as an intern in Senator Mark Montigny's office has led to the passage of an amendment sponsored by the Senator and signed by Governor Deval Patrick. With this amendment and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, thousands of full-time students in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who were denied free or subsidized state health insurance through Commonwealth Care or MassHealth are now able to have free or low-cost health insurance. Click here to read the article "Insurance costs to fall for many students." Jacob, heartfelt congratulations from all of us, and I am sure, as well, from some 100,000 college students in Massachusetts!
Incidentally, Jacob was also featured in the UMassD video titled "Transformative Knowledge, Transforming Lives." Click here to see the influential work he did in partnership with CVPA's Dean Adrian Tio, who co-chairs the city of New Bedford's application for designation as a Cultural District. Jacob, who is an Endeavor Scholar, has already made an exceptional impact through these two policy initiatives. I cannot wait to see Jacob's trajectory as he continues in his community-engaged educational path here at UMass Dartmouth.
Last month, I had the opportunity to visit with Maria Cordeiro, Director of our Enrollment Center, and congratulated her personally for being selected to receive the CARES Award. It was quite instructive for me to witness first-hand the conscientious work that Maria and her team are engaged in to assist our students through the various issues associated with enrollment, including vexing financial obstacles that many times disrupt their ability to continue their academic program. Kudos to Maria and her entire team: Mary Cabral, Joanne Augusto, Bridgette Craig, Janice Johnson, Jeannette Leal, Christine Migneault, Maryann Patota, and Judy Gilbert!
Now that five subcommittees, two task forces, and our eight colleges and schools have presented and submitted their respective strategic plans to the UMassDTransform2020 Committee, the Provost and his team will be ready to begin the process of synthesis and assimilation from the many plans into one. Once a consolidated draft has been prepared, we will send it to all of you and invite comment and feedback. Please note that we have only four months left to finalize this plan, so stay tuned as we need you to weigh in.
I know you have been glued to the TV anticipating that the Patriots will go to the Super Bowl, but have you kept track of the progress of our Division III football team? Our Corsairs had 15 new freshman players this season, and they performed admirably well with a 3-6 season (three of those losses in very close game scores of 7 points or less). As you can see from this recruiting video, developed by student Will McNamara, click here, we have a team that's fun to watch. Congratulations to head football coach Mark Robichaud and the entire football team for such a stellar performance. Yeah!
Have a joyful week, everyone.