Dear Members of the UMass Dartmouth Community,
I want to introduce myself and let you know how pleased I am to be joining your community as interim Chancellor later this semester. As you know, the leadership transition at UMass Dartmouth has been swifter than most people anticipated. Indeed, only a month ago my own plans for this year were focused on travel, fixing up my house in Maine, and adopting a puppy!
However, conversations with President Meehan and with student, faculty, and staff leaders at UMass Dartmouth have articulated what I believe is an important opportunity for leadership and service on your campus. Those conversations have testified to an institution committed to transforming lives through the power of higher education, a purpose to which I have dedicated my career. With half of the University's undergraduates being first-generation college-attendees, almost 40 percent qualifying for Pell grants, and many holding down jobs in addition to taking classes, UMass Dartmouth students are clearly motivated, determined, pragmatic, and focused on their future. Your community's faculty have spoken eloquently of their respect for their students, their passion for teaching, and their commitment to research. Members of the administrative leadership have begun sharing ideas with me on how their teams can support the important work of the University more effectively and transparently.
For all these reasons and more, I am eager to begin our work together. However, pre-existing obligations will keep me busy until the end of February. As soon as possible thereafter, I will move to the SouthCoast and expect to take up my duties on March 15. In the meantime, I invite all members of the UMass Dartmouth community to share their thoughts on the University's future with me via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Though I cannot promise individual replies, I will certainly read and appreciate all the advice I can get.
As an interim, my role will be to strengthen the University in ways that will ensure its continued momentum and smooth the way for the recruitment of the next Chancellor. (By the way, I am not and will not be a candidate for that position).
Finally, I promised to share a bit about myself. Although my academic training, research, and teaching have been in the fields of archaeology and ancient history, my primary work throughout my career has been in college administration, including student affairs and development at the University of Pennsylvania, development and alumni relations at Colby College in Maine, and as President of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I enjoy movies (the more car chases and explosions the better), reading historical fiction while lying in a hammock in my backyard, and canoeing and kayaking on a favorite lake in Maine. You can find out more about me at: muhlenberg.edu/main/aboutus/president/emeritus.
Until we meet in person, I wish you all the best for the beginning of the spring semester.
Peyton R. (Randy) Helm