Chancellor's Monday Message
Monday, August 4, 2014    

"Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come," wrote Victor Hugo. At a time of growing and unprecedented inequality in the United States, a 2008 report by the Supreme Judicial Court Steering Committee found that because of limited financial resources, approximately 100,000 litigants in Massachusetts state courts represent themselves in civil matters annually. When the legal profession has been disrupted by the same forces that are disrupting higher education and health care -- technology, globalization, and the economic recession -- our Law School's Justice Bridge is an idea whose time has come. An innovation with the potential to expand legal access to those of low means, it will also provide an opportunity for our law students to practice their skills in an incubator setting.


Congratulations to Dean Mary Lu Bilek and the Law School faculty and their partners for launching the Justice Bridge Legal Access Center! Trustee Mardee Xifaras, Trustee Zoila Gomez, and I joined the Law School at the celebratory event for Justice Bridge in Boston last Thursday, which was well attended by the legal professional community led by Chief Justice Ralph Gants, former Governor William Weld, Justice Bridge Founder Deborah Ramirez, and Executive Director Len Zandrow. I was particularly proud to see our enthusiastic and exuberant law students -- in a display of ethnic and linguistic diversity -- present themselves.


Plaudits to Professor Alan Hirshfeld for his new book Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe! In a review of his book in the Wall Street Journal, Peter Pesic concluded that Professor Hirshfeld "tells this climactic discovery of the expanding universe with verve and sweep, as befits a story whose scope, characters and import leave most fiction far behind."


Kudos to Professor Honggang Wang! He was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant of $656,202, with $296,000 to support a research collaboration at the UMass Medical School, to fund the design of a wearable biosensor system with a wireless network for the remote detection of life-threatening events in neonates.


Hats off to Lee Blake and Professor Tim Walker for their National Endowment for the Humanities $170,000 grant to support a Summer 2015 Landmarks Workshop "Sailing to Freedom: New Bedford and the Underground Railroad"! Previously funded in 2011 and 2013 with about 160 teacher participants, this workshop will now assemble 80 teachers from across the country in downtown New Bedford, in the historic homes and churches where the abolitionist activities transpired, to study the Underground Railroad and the maritime industry during the antebellum period.  


Congratulations to Professor Bo Dong for her National Science Foundation grant award of $86,891 to fund the development of novel numerical methods for simulating the Korteweg-de Vries type equations that model phenomena in areas like fluid mechanics, nonlinear optics, acoustics, and plasma physics.


Kudos to Anser Shaukat, an international painting and printmaking student from Pakistan, for having been selected as one of only five Fulbright foreign students in the U.S. who will join 20 young American social entrepreneurs on the 2014 Millennial Trains Project. Anser will take part in this cross-country train journey from Portland, Oregon, to New York, New York, from August 6-18, 2014. He and other participants will be part of a leadership development program, and as the train stops in various cities and towns throughout the trip, they will connect with local leaders and distinguished mentors about their individual projects ranging from sustainability to urban planning, among others.


Congratulations to Tina Bruen, who has been recently appointed a member of the Crisis Management Subcommittee of NAFSA, the Association of International Educators!


Did you have time to sample a malasada or spicy cacoila sandwich during this past weekend's 100th celebration of the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament? Did you enjoy the musical entertainment and the parade at this traditional Madeiran feast, the largest ethnic festival in New England?


Enjoy another glorious summer week!

Chancellor's Signature
UMass Dartmouth