A Vision for the Future

A letter to the University community

June 13, 2007

Dear Friends,

This year, we have had several opportunities to come together as a community to celebrate important incremental steps towards claiming for the University of Massachusetts its rightful place as a top-tier, world-class university. We share these aspirations and celebrate our achievements together as we bring the unique attributes of each of our campuses to bear on important local and global problems.

As a community, we are engaged in an ongoing conversation about the future of our great University, and how to reach our shared aspirations. I would like to acknowledge that the recent conversations about the future of our University have not been started in the best way possible. I take some responsibility for this. I am convinced, however, that it is the right conversation at the right time for this institution, and it is one worth having together as a community.

Our goal for the coming year is to broaden the conversation about our aspirations. I believe that one essential component of this discussion is how we capitalize on and amplify our considerable academic and research strengths through increased collaboration. We aim to reach our destination in a way that is right for our campuses and right for the University and that will allow us to use our resources better, to enhance the academic experience for our students, and to increase the value of our degrees.

This web site is intended to help facilitate this critical conversation by providing information directly and by gathering feedback from the community. If you would like to provide constructive feedback on how we can achieve the goals outlined above, or to suggest others that you feel are important for our campuses or our University, please email us or share your thoughts in this questionnaire.

I look forward to developing a vision for UMass together with you, one that is uniquely appropriate for our campuses, our faculty, our students and our history. I look forward to the outcome, and also to the journey.

UMass
Jack M. Wilson, President, University of Massachusetts

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Frequently Asked Questions

We invite you to submit a new question for the FAQs.

What are our aspirations for the University of Massachusetts?

The University of Massachusetts can and should claim its rightful place as a world-class, top-tier research university with five strong and unique campuses. President Wilson and the Board of Trustees share that aspiration, and believe that the Commonwealth's public university needs to be world class for both our students and our state to maintain a competitive edge. The opportunities to better Massachusetts and better the world by bettering the University are boundless. The imperative is to encourage and accelerate these partnerships within campuses and across campuses and to learn what steps we might take to allow this type of collaboration to flourish.

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What do we think we need to realize these aspirations?

We need a culture, a structure, and a set of tools, systems, and practices that foster greater collaboration and promote academic, administrative, and research excellence. With these in place, the University can use resources better, enhance the academic experience for students, and enhance the value of University of Massachusetts degrees.

Have you proposed a reorganization or a restructuring of the University?

No. All of the proposed changes fit within the University's current and existing management structure.

What recommendations will President Wilson make to the Board of Trustees on June 21?

President Wilson has appointed Dr. Michael Collins as the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and will recommend him to the Board as the interim Chancellor at UMass Medical School. He is also recommending to the Board Dr. J. Keith Motley, whose appointment as the next Chancellor at UMass Boston was unanimously endorsed by the UMass Boston Faculty Council on June 4. Both appointments will take effect on July 1, pending board approval, and are intended to enhance the leadership team and help achieve our shared vision for UMass.


How do the President, Chancellors and Board propose to engage the University in developing this vision?

In the coming year, President Wilson, the Board and the Chancellors seek to broaden the conversation about how to reach our destination in a way that is right for the campuses and right for the University. The conversation is about the future of this great University, and about the best ways to capitalize on and amplify the University's considerable academic and research strengths through increased collaboration. You can participate in this conversation today by sharing your ideas by email or by completing this questionnaire.


Why are we having this conversation about collaboration now?

Recent history at the University of Massachusetts, as well as that at other leading public institutions, proves that greater collaboration is the path to better use of resources, an enhanced academic experience for students, and increased value of University of Massachusetts degrees. We have some excellent examples of collaboration already at the University however the pace of today's world demands that we be nimble and ready to respond quickly when promising opportunities arise. For example, Governor Patrick recently placed UMass - as a whole - squarely at the center of this ambitious 10 year, $1 billion Life Sciences Strategy. Massachusetts will develop the largest repository of stem cell lines in the world with roles for all five University of Massachusetts campuses. UMass brought its collective strengths to the table and we were asked to play such a prominent role because of these.

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How can increased collaboration help the University to reach our aspirations?

Within the context of high aspirations for the University, collaboration does not simply mean an increased sense of collegiality, or more cross-disciplinary course offerings. Instead, it means a directed, focused effort to bring together pockets of excellence spread among all of the University's campuses to create research and teaching strength that is greater than the sum of its parts. This can be accomplished while preserving the unique identities of the University of Massachusetts campuses.

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How can I participate in this conversation and share what I think is important for the future of our University?

Your views and ideas are important to us and we will benefit from hearing from you. If you would like to provide constructive feedback on how we can achieve the goal of claiming for the University of Massachusetts its rightful place as a top-tier, world-class university with five strong and unique campuses, or to suggest other goals that you feel are important for our campuses or our University, please email us or share your thoughts in this questionnaire.

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Do we need to change our structure to be world class?

No. This structure has served the University system well. It is important to honor tradition and culture but not be bound by it. All of the proposed management appointments fit within the existing management and governance structure. President Wilson does not support a change without further study and an inclusive process. However, this process should look at all of the University's practices and organization structures to ask whether they support University goals.


Do we need to centralize our fundraising to be world class?

No. Fundraising will continue to be campus-led and campus-managed. The goal is to elevate the development efforts across all campuses, and to provide greater support and accountability for those efforts. The University does need a better process for coordinating fundraising asks to dual-degree holders, non-alumni donors, and corporations and foundations, and is in the process of working collaboratively with campus leadership to develop policies aimed at managing those issues.


Will there be a task force or a review of internal or external collaboration at the University of Massachusetts?

On June 19, Governor Patrick announced that the Governor's Readiness Project, a group of state education, business and community leaders, will include a review that will focus on internal and external collaboration within the University of Massachusetts system. Read the Governor's announcement.

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