Chancellor's Monday Message
Monday, July 14, 2014    

This past Saturday I boarded the Acela Express train in Providence headed to New York City to host a UMassD alumni gathering in Manhattan with President Robert Caret and Vice Chancellor Lee Williams. There is something about a train ride that evokes a sense of adventure, and along the way I relished the innumerable picturesque sights of summer, from a gleeful group of teens kayaking in the salt marshes, rows of sailboats docked in a harbor with their pennants swaying in the wind, beaches filled with people lazing languidly on bright-colored towels on the sand, and unexpectedly, a doe standing near a track watching our train speed by.


I sensed a frisson of excitement as we passed by the Robert Kennedy Bridge, formerly named the Triborough, and soon the unmistakable tall skyscrapers appeared before our eyes. For a moment I thought about the impact of the construction of railroads beginning in the 1830s linking the towns and cities of New York State with each other and with those of surrounding states in the region, and imagined how game-changing it would be for the SouthCoast when the train finally connects Boston to New Bedford and Fall River. I also thought about the writer Henry James' characterization of the city of his birth as "altogether an extraordinary growing, swarming, glittering, pushing, chattering, good-natured, cosmopolitan place . . ."


What a delight to meet a group of alumni whose years of graduation from UMassD ranged from 1976 to 2007! As we sat for dinner at the Terrace Club in Manhattan overlooking the twin decorated Neo-Gothic spires of Saint Patrick's Cathedral, observing the gaggles of tourists below ambling toward the Rockefeller Center nearby, and enjoying the gentle summer breeze in the open, we were engrossed by individual anecdotes of our alumni's academic experiences at UMassD and how they ended up in the Big Apple. Among our guests were several women executives who readily recounted their career trajectories. Caitlyn Camara earned a degree in Finance in 2007 and is now the Vice President for BlackRock Investments. Sowmya Nanjundaiah, a MBA graduate in 2000, is the CEO of Incite Interactive, a digital solutions company. Laura Gargolinski, who graduated with a degree in Marketing and Human Resources in 2008, is a Marketing Events Planner for Google. A 2003 BS Biology and 2013 JD graduate, Jacquelyn Briggs, who was a Student Trustee, is a Project Manager for the biotech company Neostem.


We also welcomed Larry McDonald, who completed his BS in Economics in 1989, became Vice President of the now defunct Lehman Brothers, and famously wrote the book A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers. Kul Zanofer Ismalebbe completed a Master's degree in Public Policy in 2012 and serves as the First Officer for Economic, Social and Development Affairs at the United Nations Executive Office of the Secretary General. I was fascinated to hear that prior to this post, his previous assignments were in UN offices in Switzerland, Uzbekistan, and Sri Lanka. Subhan Tariq, a 2013 graduate of the Law School, is a contract lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell. Nathan Bernardo, who graduated with a BS in Finance in 2007, is a Senior Financial Analyst at Procter & Gamble. Finally, Carl Andreassen, who earned a Civil Engineering degree in 1976 at what was then SMU, is the Principal Hydraulic Engineer in Somerset County, New Jersey. I am immensely proud of all of them!


Congratulations to Professor Mazdak Tootkaboni for a new $485,474 National Science Foundation collaborative multi-institutional grant! With UMassD as the lead, Professor Tootkaboni will engage research partners from the University of California Irvine and Johns Hopkins University to devise a novel framework for designing flaw-tolerant structures and material microarchitectures.


Kudos to our UMassD women's tennis team for receiving the 2014 Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) All Academic Team Award! Additionally, six of our women tennis athletes were selected ITA Scholar-Athletes: Lindsay Butler, Katelyn Capone, Elizabeth Cignoli, Nicole Pelletier, Alexandra Post, and Hannah Schultze. Aside from tennis athletic prowess, eligibility for the award requires maintenance of a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale in the current academic semester. Hats off to the awardees and especially to their Corsairs head women's coach Doug Chapman!


Congratulations to Professor Kevin Stokesbury, Professor Steve Cadrin and our SMAST faculty researchers! In the next two years, they will receive a total of $4.4 million in grants from NOAA through the Northeast Cooperative Research Program to expand research that includes scallop fishery bycatch avoidance, video survey and biological sampling of the Georges Bank, and tracking the occurrence of gray meat scallops.


Let us applaud Professor Chad McGuire for his riveting presentation this past Thursday at Nonquitt on law and policy options to mitigate the impact of sea level rise in the coastal communities of Massachusetts. His maps illustrating how segments of Boston and the surrounding regions in the Commonwealth will be submerged with rising sea levels were illuminating and frightening at the same time.


Were you jubilant about Germany's triumph over Argentina in the World Cup? Were you crestfallen as I was to hear that LeBron James is leaving the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers?


Enjoy lobster, corn, watermelon, ice cream, and the bounties of New England summer!


Chancellor's Signature
UMass Dartmouth