2023 Spring President's Report

"President's Quarterly Report Spring 2023" featuring UMass President Marty Meehan's smiling picture along with his title and name.

As we send off the 20,000-member University of Massachusetts Class of 2023, it is a good time to reflect on the immense impact of our five nationally ranked campuses. We know that most of our new graduates will remain in Massachusetts to build careers and families -- and our collective future. They will breathe new life into our public mission and commitment to the Commonwealth.

Our original campus in Amherst sprang from the mid-19th century Land Grant idea that higher education shouldn’t be confined to the nation’s social and economic elite. The Massachusetts Agricultural College and public colleges like it across the nation were created to foster a more democratic approach to higher education.

Here in Massachusetts, citizens were promised a public institution of higher education that would serve them by creating and dispensing knowledge and by providing service to citizens and communities.

Nearly a century later, UMass was expanded to include a medical school in Worcester and an urban campus in Boston. In 1989, a special commission said the Commonwealth would need to create “a world-class university system” if it hoped to maintain its position as a global economic and innovation leader. This led to UMass Dartmouth and UMass Lowell entering the UMass system.

Over the past weeks, I thought of our historic mission as students such as Tawakkol Karman earn a master's degree in security studies at UMass Lowell. This is the same Tawakkol Karman who in 2011 was a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on behalf of women’s rights, freedom of expression and democracy in Yemen.

Speaking to her UMass Lowell classmates, Karman said: “We live today in a world where local issues are global and global issues are local. Whatever you will be in the future … always stand up on the right side of history. Reject tyranny, racism and hatred and always embrace democracy, freedom and human dignity.”

At the UMass School of Law in Dartmouth, Katherine McCormick said she plans to devote her legal career to advocating for worker’s rights. McCormick, who previously earned her undergraduate degree at UMass Boston, said: “The workplace is where we spend most of our lives, and I would like to help create equitable and democratic workplaces for all.”

We see the brilliance of the UMass mission in Lee-Daniel Tran, UMass Boston’s recipient of the John F. Kennedy Award for Academic Excellence, who told his classmates: “We are the public. What is beautiful is that despite or perhaps because of our differences, we have all come together and found ourselves at UMass Boston.”

Our mission from the very beginning has matched the creation of knowledge – through research – alongside dispensing knowledge in the classroom.

In the 19th century, there was an agricultural focus to our research and today, that area of study still exists, but our portfolio has expanded. UMass has become a global leader in fields ranging from clean energy and climate change to gene silencing and space exploration.

The work itself and the scale of our activity is awe-inspiring. Here is a sample:

Swamy joining President’s leadership team

Outgoing UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy has been appointed to the position of Interim Senior Vice President for Academic, Student Affairs and Equity, serving the five-campus, 74,000-student system. Presidential Advisor for Equity and Inclusion Nefertiti Walker has been elevated to Deputy Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and Equity.

Berlin Wall section unveiled at UMass Amherst

The installation of a 12-foot segment of the Berlin Wall painted by famed French artist Thierry Noir was celebrated on April 25 at the Memorial Hall patio signifying the university’s revolutionary spirit.

Manning Prize celebrates outstanding teaching

Five outstanding University of Massachusetts faculty have been awarded the 2023 Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching for their exceptional dedication to students and the university.