Chancellor Barry Mills delivers first convocation address at UMass Boston
Officially launching the new academic year with the annual convocation address, Interim Chancellor Barry Mills today said the University of Massachusetts Boston, recognized as one of the most diverse campuses in the nation, will champion unity over division and intends to serve as “the Beacon by the bay.”
“We at UMass Boston understand and insist that all of us, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender or gender identity — whether our families have been in this country for generations or they arrived much more recently — all of us are in this together,” Mills said at the morning gathering.
“We are going to stand with and for each other here at UMass Boston,” he added.
In doing so, Mills said today’s UMass Boston would be adhering to the course it founders established when the campus opened in 1965.
“This is a university that since its inception has had a vision of itself as being important – special — and destined for greatness. A university with a mission and a vision,” said Mills, who became interim chancellor when former Chancellor J. Keith Motley stepped down on June 30.
Mills noted that when UMass Boston held its first convocation in 1966, then-Chancellor John Ryan said the new school needed to provide “genuine quality” and make its offerings available to all qualified students irrespective of “race, recent immigration or depressed economic status.”
Mills said: “The course that was charted that day is one that chancellors from John Ryan to J. Keith Motley have adhered to and have advanced.”
Mills, the former president of Bowdoin College, paid tribute to the UMass Boston faculty during his remarks, noting: “We at UMass Boston are excellent because of the strength of our faculty. That has been the hallmark of this institution — and continues to be, and I think we should celebrate that excellence.”
Mills also emphasized the importance of ensuring that UMass Boston students graduate on time. Although the university’s graduation rate is similar to that of other public universities, Mills challenged the UMass Boston community to do better.
“It is essential that our students graduate and graduate on time,” Mills said. “The optimism I felt last week as I greeted our new students was tempered by the reality I understand that too many will not finish. There are many factors contributing to students not finishing. Some of these factors may be beyond our control, but most are not — and our job is to promote student success ... we should and must do better.”
Also speaking at the convocation was Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, president and CEO of the Dimock Center, the largest employer in Roxbury, Massachusetts and the second-largest health center in Boston.
“I believe that in order for each of us to create clear pathways to success we cannot do it alone. We must reach across to those who may not look like us or share our beliefs or cultural traits and find common ground. We all want a future that is ripe with potential for the next generation,” Minter-Jordan said. Read about her remarks on diversity, equality, and leadership here.