Chancellor's Monday Message
Monday, February 10, 2014    

Two summers ago, I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman in his searing performance as Willy Loman in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman." Cited by the New York Times' Ben Brantley as "one of the finest actors of his generation," he was stunning in his Oscar award-winning portrayal of Truman Capote in the movie "Capote." How tragic that he died of suspected heroin overdose at 46 with a needle in his arm, leaving behind a wife and three young children. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that from 2007 to 2012, the number of Americans using heroin has doubled, and just last month, Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont forewarned of the heroin crisis that, while "bubbling just beneath the surface that may be invisible to many," is very real. How can we work together to overcome this scourge that threatens to plunder the life, health, and well-being of so many, including here in the SouthCoast?   


Kudos to Physics student Jillian Bolinger, who was selected among only 60 students across the country -- out of 600 who submitted abstracts -- to present in the Annual Posters on the Hill in Washington, D.C.!  Jillian's research with Professor Robert Fisher is on observational signatures of white dwarf stars prior to a thermonuclear supernova explosion. 


Congratulations to Professor Michael Baum for his appointment by Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho to serve on the Executive Board of the Luso-American Foundation! This is a huge honor for him and for UMass Dartmouth; the Board oversees the Foundation in its mission to foster economic, educational, and cultural relations with the United States. Professor Baum will begin in his new role, based in Lisbon, on February 11.


And for "chocoholics" like me, Professor Tim Walker will lecture on the history of chocolate in early America at Boston's Old North Church on February 13.


Thank you to Professor Vivian Saleh-Hanna and the committee that organized the first event of Black History Month, a lecture by Duke University Professor of Sociology Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, an award-winning author of multiple books on race and racism. It was heartening to see the Claire T. Carney Library Grand Reading Room jam-packed to hear Professor Bonilla's presentation.


Cheers to our Corsairs women's basketball team for their 64-59 overtime triumph over Little East Conference rival University of Southern Maine on Saturday! And kudos to coach Amanda Van Voorhis on a fine job.


On Thursday, Dean Adrian Tio, Kissy Russell, and I convened our UMassD Living Gallery members for an engaging presentation by Design Lab architects Bob Miklos and Ben Youtz about the astonishing renovation of the Library. Archivist Judy Farrar graciously displayed Paul Rudolph's original architectural drawings of our campus. We were entranced! Do you know that Liberal Arts student Conor Szarek, also a swimming and diving athlete, has become an expert on the UMassD architecture of Paul Rudolph?


On Saturday, I was thrilled to join College Now Program Director Michael Ortiz, Assistant Vice Provost Carol Spencer, Vice Provost Magali Carrera, and a number of Cabinet members at the Share the Dream ceremony honoring 96 first-year students from College Now, including Electrical Engineering student Abner Barros, who earned a GPA of 3.96! Josh Encarnacion, President of the Senior Class 2014 and a College Now student, rendered a rousing speech that left no dry eye in the room. He spoke stirringly about his struggles growing up in the Lawrence projects where none of his friends graduated from high school. Thank you to the entire College Now staff for your continuing commitment to help our students succeed.


From my office window, the surfeit of snow this winter conjures up the wonderland scene of my eternal favorite "Waltz of the Snowflakes" in the Nutcracker Ballet.  Many on campus have conveyed through artistic expression the joy and awe of nature's beauty all around us. I am enchanted by the Lindeza de Invierno (Winter Beauty) photos by Professor Dario Borim, the exquisite campus winterscape by student Elton Jhon Da Graca, and the whimsical snowy owl picture by Human Resources Director Carol Santos that I saw on their Facebook pages. Who knew about all these gifted artists among us?


Have a good week, everyone!

Chancellor's Signature
UMass Dartmouth