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Chancellor to Staff and Faculty on August 28

August 28, 2023

Dear UMass Dartmouth Staff and Faculty,

I write with an update on our progress on finding alternate teaching and learning spaces for our arts and other programs that formerly were located in the Star Store in downtown New Bedford. While we have opted not to engage in a public debate in the press and social media, I want the campus community to understand that we advocated strongly for continuing the appropriation and the lease, but it was not included in this year’s budget signed August 9, and the university then received legal advice that we should vacate the premises. While some have asked why the university didn’t buy the building for a dollar, our inability to take on another $50M-$75M in deferred maintenance made that financially impossible. 

Although it is painful to leave a facility that we’ve called home for more than 20 years, I’d like to warmly thank the CVPA faculty and Dean Lawrence Jenkens, who have worked collaboratively over the last two weeks with the Provost’s Office, the Registrar’s Office and our Facilities team to identify good temporary homes for nearly all of our courses and programs. Your dedication to our students and commitment to providing the best educational experience possible are inspiring. 

For the 2023-2024 academic year, we have created a new home at the heart of campus for the Fashion Design program in the Marketplace North meeting room and adjacent space that was in the process of being renovated. We are able to use one of our existing CVPA studios to house our undergraduate ceramics courses. Two classrooms on the ground floor of the Textile Building will accommodate some CVPA courses that need more traditional classroom space.

The Art Education program and personal workspace for Interior Architecture and Design majors will be housed in customized modular classrooms that we expect to have up and running by mid-October. Finally, with the support and generosity of community partners, we have secured an affordable short-term lease on a large, empty storefront space in the Dartmouth Towne Center, which is very close to campus. This temporary new “Art & Design Studio” will provide ample space for our graduate student studios, as well as for our Textile, Jewelry/Metals and Ceramics programs. 

We are glad to be partnering with Bristol Community College to provide classrooms and offices in downtown New Bedford for the Worker’s Education Program for the coming academic year.  

As difficult as this transition is, it also has shown the caring and resilience of the Corsair family. I’d like to thank all of you for everything you’ve done to help support the impacted CVPA students, staff and faculty at this challenging time. From identifying potential spaces on campus that might be suitable for CVPA courses, to ensuring that students are aware of counseling services and other resources, to working around the clock to plan and implement this unexpected move, your efforts have made a huge difference.  

With all of your creativity, hard work, flexibility and dedication to our students, I know that we will launch the fall semester with excellent facilities in place to serve all our students well. 


Mark Fuller


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