UMass Dartmouth Cuts Ribbon on International Program in Downtown Fall River

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman joined by Fall River officials and students, faculty, and staff from the University's international students education program for a ribbon cutting ceremony

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman was joined by Fall River officials and students, faculty, and staff from the University's international students education program for a ribbon cutting ceremony, today, August 4, 2014, on the second floor of the Cherry and Webb building at 139 South Main Street in downtown Fall River. The ceremony celebrated the move of the university's Navitas partnership to downtown Fall River. The goal is to bring 100 students, faculty and staff to the area to learn, shop, and dine in the coming academic year. 

"Fall River is a great American city, laden with inspiring history, world class cultural venues, and emerging industries,'' said Chancellor Grossman. "In the days, months and years ahead it is my hope that the students who come here -- from faraway places -- find their welcome to be so positive that they invite their friends to join them at UMass Dartmouth and here in Fall River. We look forward to working with the community to grow this center in the years ahead to establish a dynamic learning center for our students and an economic engine for downtown." 

Under the program, Navitas, the university's international education partner, will deliver courses to students at the downtown site. The students will live on campus and be transported five days per week to the facility where they will spend most of their day in classes but also have time participate in the life of the downtown and the rest of the city. 

Chancellor Grossman was joined by Fall River Mayor William Flanagan, State Representative Alan Silvia, State Representative Carol Fiola, State Representative Paul Schmid, Executive Director of Navitas at UMass Dartmouth Mary Fleming, UMass Dartmouth international students, and downtown business owners. 

"This program is an innovative way to provide our international students with an immersive and authentic American experience, coupled with the world-class education offered at UMass Dartmouth," said State Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport). 

Representative Alan Silvia, D-Fall River, whose district includes the building, said, "This move will be a great benefit to our community and downtown area. Fall River's businesses and community members will welcome and support this new student population, which we are hopeful will only increase moving forward, adding to the development and growth of this great city." 

"We are a community of diversity and culture. This is the perfect mix of education and economic development. I would like to thank Chancellor Grossman, her entire team at UMass Dartmouth, and Navitas," said State Representative Carole Fiola. "I look forward to a long relationship for students here in Fall River. We are here for you." 

"You will all find a very welcoming atmosphere in Fall River," said State Representative Paul Schmid. "Thank you to Chancellor Grossman for believing in Fall River. Let this be the first step on a long path in bringing the vibrancy of students to downtown Fall River." 

"Our move to this wonderful facility in Fall River provides a unique opportunity for our students from around the world to be part of campus life as well as the life of a great American community, which has a rich history and a bright future," said Mary Fleming, executive director of Navitas at UMass Dartmouth. "The Fall River community, in turn, will be enriched by these bright and engaging young men and women." 

Navitas undergraduate student Kunashe Mambwe also took part in today's ribbon cutting ceremony. Kunashe is from Zimbabwe, enrolled in the Navitas Pathway Program (UPP), and plans to major in Biology. Kunashe started in January 2014, receiving a Navitas merit scholarship in the summer for his performance in the Spring. He was an orientation leader with Navitas in the summer, and he was named MVP of the Navitas USA Soccer Tournament for his skills on the field as well as his outstanding sportsmanship throughout the day. 

"This is very exciting day for myself and my fellow students. This tremendous location and the chance to learn, dine, and explore this thriving city is exactly the opportunity I want to experience in America," said Kunashe. 

A key component of the initiative will be connecting downtown eateries to the UMass Dartmouth Pass, allowing students to purchase food using the official university ID card. This morning, the University also held a briefing for Fall River businesses in the area to assist them in participating in the program and to learn more about the success of the Navitas program. 

A recent study by the UMass Donahue Institute indicated that UMass Dartmouth generates $518 million of economic activity in the region, including millions of dollars of purchases of goods and services by the University's 9,000 students. New Bedford officials credit student activity around the downtown College of Visual and Performing Arts with transforming the small businesses there. 

UMass Dartmouth distinguishes itself as a vibrant public university actively engaged in personalized teaching and innovative research, and acting as an intellectual catalyst for regional economic, social, and cultural development. UMass Dartmouth's mandate to serve its community is realized through countless partnerships, programs, and other outreach efforts to engage the community, and apply its knowledge to help address local issues and empower others to facilitate change for all. 

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