Chancellor's Monday Message
Monday, June 30, 2014    

Will you join me this Thursday, July 3, at 6:15 PM at our annual Freedom Festival celebration with more than 10,000 residents of Dartmouth and the SouthCoast? As in years past, there will be a musical concert, family picnics and gatherings, and fabulous fireworks, thanks to the continued and generous grant support of CEO Pat Murray and Bristol County Savings Bank and other donors and partners: the Town of Dartmouth, Not Your Average Joe's, Xerox, Blue Spruce, Pepsi, Follett, Chartwells, the Herald News, the Standard Times, and the Chronicle.


Let us welcome this opportunity to reflect once more on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence. Two hundred thirty-eight years ago, a Committee of Five, composed of John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut, was appointed by the Second Continental Congress with the supreme task of writing the Declaration of Independence. "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." The words still resonate penetratingly to this day with the ideal of freedom, and while we strive as a nation to be true to that ideal, building a democracy and a civil society will always be on the path between "being and becoming." Our very own Professor Emeritus Everett Hoagland reminds us of history in his poem,


"every Fourth of July

  I want some country, some

  one to send a replica of one of all

  those slave ships over the Middle

  Passage to the tall ships parade -

  To keep it honest, to make it real, to see . . . "


Congratulations to our Master of Fine Arts students Russell Prigodich and Aaron Badham who won the prestigious Outstanding Student Achievement Award in Sculpture from the International Sculpture Center! Kudos as well to Interim Department Chair Richard Creighton and the faculty in Fine Arts for their tutelage of the winners. The selection was highly competitive, with only 22 graduate fine arts students designated as award recipients from a pool of 374 nominees from 151 universities and six countries. As a consequence of their award, Russell and Aaron will participate in an art exhibit at the Grounds for Sculpture at the International Sculpture Center in Hamilton, New Jersey. We are extremely proud of them!


Even in summer when the majority of students and faculty are away, the campus is a veritable beehive of activity. Our 30 orientation leaders (OLs) and our Student Affairs professional staff have been busy conducting Orientations for some 1,500 new students and their families representing the various Colleges, College Now, and the Pathways program. Our Facilities team, led by Peter Duffy, Michael Hayes, and Jeff Louro, has also been engaged in refurbishments and renovations of our buildings and the facilities master planning process. I am deeply grateful to all of them for their assiduous work to prepare us for the forthcoming academic year.


Travel has always been for me and my family in the last 31 years a profound educational experience and a revelatory window of discovery into the world. The journey of the last several days through Morocco, from Casablanca to Meknes, through the Middle Atlas, the Draa Valley, and the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakesh, including the unforgettable camel ride to the magnificent sand dunes of Erg Chebbi in the Sahara Desert calls to mind that anywhere we are in the world, we share "one sun, one ground, and one sky," to paraphrase the poet Richard Blanco.


Learning about the 9,000-year-old history and culture of the Berbers (click here) and the Arabic, European, and African influences on their way of life, I was struck by how crucial it is for us in executing UMassDTransform2020 to ensure that we inculcate in our students a diverse and global perspective and a global understanding of shared challenges on this planet. As we rode through the treacherous, steep roads of the Atlas Mountains, admiring the alternating ochre, gold, and purple hues of the cliffs and gorges, the glimmer of silver poplars and the exuberant pink of ubiquitous oleander bushes in the river valley, I mused about a bright future for UMass Dartmouth even as we surmount formidable challenges. Like the Berbers, a powerful sense of community, strong linkage to our land, and openness to numerous influences and new ideas will enable us to endure.


Have a good week, everyone!

Chancellor's Signature
UMass Dartmouth