UMass Dartmouth students return to campus

UMass Dartmouth students return to campus September 1 and 2, start classes on September 3. University prepares to make them welcome and offers new programs

UMass Dartmouth students return to campus September 1 and 2, start classes on September 3. University prepares to make them welcome and offers new programs 

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth students will move in to campus residence halls on Labor Day weekend in record numbers. Two new residence halls for an additional 800 students will open for the first time, bringing the residential student population on the Dartmouth campus to 3,167. 

On Tuesday, commuter students will join their resident peers, bringing the total student enrollment to approximately 7,000 students. This represents a 10 percent increase in overall enrollment growth over last year that the university attributes to an increase in the college-age and college-eligible population, as well as to student demand. UMass Dartmouth has experienced a steady increase in enrollment since 1998. 

“More and more students are choosing UMass Dartmouth as their first choice for college,” says Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack. “These students and their families have compared our academic quality and the collegiate experiences we offer to those of other institutions in relation to the overall cost of a college education. They know that the quality of education they’ll receive here is an education of terrific value.” 

In a year marked by a sharp downturn in the Massachusetts economy and a reduction of funds appropriated to UMass by the Legislature as a result, faculty and staff have worked harder than ever to ensure that new and returning students will have a positive start to the new academic year. 

Professionals in the Office of Housing and Residential Life will be joined by a cadre of 200 students who are members of the Resident Hall Congress in order to assist students moving into the residence halls on Sunday and Monday. The RHC students will provide help unloading cars, directing students to their rooms, and answering questions. Additionally, the entire police force of the Office Public Safety, as well as Marriott-Sodexho Dining Services and other departments will be on hand to provide services on Sunday and Monday. The campus store will be open both days from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., so students can buy textbooks and other supplies. 

Special attention will be provided both days for students moving into the new residence halls. The UMass Building Authority built these new residence halls, the first constructed on the campus since 1988, for $38 million financed by a bond issue. Suffolk Construction was the general contractor; Cannon Design the architect. William G. Heaney, associate vice chancellor for administration and finance, praised Suffolk and its sub-contractors for finishing all but the final touches of this “monumental project” in just 9 months. He said it usually takes from 12 to 18 months to complete construction of this size and complexity. 

Heaney said students would move into buildings that are complete in the residential areas and that meet all health and safety requirements for occupancy. However, finish details are still being completed in other parts of the buildings such as ground floor offices and lobbies. 

On the academic side, the annual New Student Convocation will be held on Tuesday, Sept 3 from 11 a.m. to noon in the Main Auditorium to welcome students to the university. Faculty in formal regalia will enter the auditorium in a processional, accompanied by the Spinners student chorus. All classes are cancelled that hour so that students and the rest of the UMD community can hear the inspirational speeches of sociology professor Susan Krumholz and student Gerald Halfhide. A barbecue lunch will follow on the campus quadrangle. 

Classes will resume following the convocation with both new and familiar faces teaching courses. This summer, some 41 faculty members took advantage of the state’s Early Retirement Incentive Program or regular retirement. Since all of these positions could not be filled in such a short time frame, academic administrators have adopted a “bridging strategy” to assure that students get the quality of instruction and the courses they need to meet their degree requirements. 

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Thomas J. Curry said, “We are meeting curriculum needs this year by offering post-retirement teaching contracts to some of those who recently retired. Typically, these professors will teach one or two upper level courses that are relatively specialized. On the freshmen level, particularly, we’ve hired an additional complement of part time faculty to teach the extra sections of some courses such as freshmen English and introductory math that our enrollment growth demands. There also will be some increase in class size to accommodate the incoming students because of the reduced numbers of fulltime faculty. We intend to begin the process of hiring new permanent faculty in time for the next academic year, fall 2003.” 

Other new academic initiatives include: 

The Intercampus Graduate School of Marine Sciences and Technology, led by UMass Dartmouth’s Dr. Brian Rothschild, is offering a co-operative education master’s degree in conjunction with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, RI. Graduate students will have access to NUWC expertise and applied research opportunities as well as paid work while completing degree requirements and research assignments with IGS faculty. 

UMass Dartmouth’s College of Visual and Performing Arts is offering new classes in theater that are designed for the serious theatergoer and for the student who is interested in making a career in theater. The new courses will be Introduction to Theatre and Theatre Workshop. In structors will be Professors James Quinn and Henry Shaffer of Bridgewater State College’s Department of Communication Studies and Theatre Arts. 

UMass Dartmouth’s new Professional and Continuing Education Center opens this September in the Cherry & Webb Building. The Professional and Continuing Education Center at 139 South Main Street, Fall River, will provide university level instructional programs, quality faculty and staff, and most importantly, educational opportunities for the greater Fall River community. Programs will be offered at the graduate and undergraduate level.

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