The past year was one of great momentum for an evolving UMass Dartmouth.
Building our future
In early February, the university unveiled a comprehensive master plan focused on the renovation, repair, and replacement of buildings and infrastructure. The plan, as Chancellor Johnson said, "envisions UMass Dartmouth as the Tier 1 national research university that our students, our faculty, and this region deserve."
In July, the UMass Board of Trustees approved a $133.9 million plan to replace the university’s first-year student residence halls and enhance student dining facilities. The Board also gave initial approval to a $54.4 million renovation of the university’s science and engineering building. Future initiatives include renovation and modernization of academic buildings, the campus center, road infrastructure, and athletic facilities.
As 2018 drew to a close, a key project was already underway. UMass Dartmouth celebrated the groundbreaking for construction of a transformative $134 million student housing and dining complex.
Inauguration of Chancellor Johnson
A week-long celebration of the strengths and achievements of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the region culminated on April 20 with the formal inauguration of Robert E. Johnson, PhD, as Chancellor.
In his inauguration address, Dr. Johnson urged students to "fight for your dreams" and to "invent the future in a way the world has never ever seen."
A major highlight was a symposium titled Catching the Next Wave: Building the Blue Economy through Innovation and Collaboration. The event was co-hosted by the National Council on Competitiveness and included leaders from academia, business, and government addressing the opportunities in developing the Blue Economy of the state and region.
The Blue Economy
April's Catching the Next Wave symposium generated consensus that the SouthCoast has the potential to build a job-creating, income-increasing "Blue Economy Corridor" in southeastern Massachusetts.
Recognizing that potential, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Agency awarded UMass Dartmouth a three-year $600,000 planning grant to identify existing blue economy assets of the region, determine areas for job-creating investment, create opportunities for inter-regional partnership, and market the region to the world.
Massachusetts Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash also announced a $300,000 state investment in the effort led by UMass Dartmouth and the SouthCoast Development Partnership. The SouthCoast Blue Economy Corridor Initiative aims to examine the blue economy supply chain, workforce, higher education research, challenges to growth and exporting goods, and other factors to facilitate global branding and marketing of the region, address unemployment, facilitate higher wage employment opportunities, and diversify the regional economy.
Leaders in research and innovation
UMassD faculty search for solutions to the world's problems and make discoveries in every discipline. Faculty in the news in 2018 included:
- Dr. Maryellen Brisbois, assistant professor of nursing, who was recognized for the Bridging the Atlantic project by the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research's "Projects That Work" competition. The project is an alliance in community health among American and Azorean nursing students and faculty.
- SMAST's Dr. Changsheng Chen, the co-developer of the finite-volume community ocean model (FVCOM), one of the most widely applied tools for oceanographers and limnologists. Since its release 15 years ago, the FVCOM's usage has escalated to 38 countries.
- Dr. Lance Fiondella, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, who received a 5-year, $452,454 National Science Foundation CAREER award to examine software reliability and security risk. The prestigious five-year grant supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.
- Dr. Sigal Gottlieb, professor of mathematics, who was the principal investigator on a $643,899 award from the Office of Naval Research for her proposal "A Heterogeneous Terascale Computing Cluster for the Development and Efficient Implementation of High-Order Numerical Methods." The funds will allow the Center for Scientific Computing & Visualization Research to bring a new supercomputing cluster to campus.
- Dr. Pamela Karimi, associate professor of art history, who is the lead curator for Black Spaces Matter: Celebrating New Bedford's Abolition Row, an exhibition showcasing the abolitionist neighborhood near the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.
- Dr. Irene Scharf, professor of law, began her term as a Fellow with the Supreme Judicial Court Access to Justice Commission and the Lawyers Clearinghouse. Scharf's project will focus on coordinating and maximizing assistance with a local nonprofit community organization as well as facilitating the connections between those in need with lawyers who can help them.
- Dr. Tim Shea, professor of decision and information sciences, who uses technology to solve community problems. His latest project is an app that addresses food insecurity. Food Finder helps people without reliable nutrition find food in the region; Food Alert is for organizations that have food to share.
- Dr. Kevin Stokesbury, SMAST professor of fisheries oceanography, who was selected for $302,091 in funding from the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center and the New England Fishery Management Council for sea scallop research.
Growth in enrollment
The university's overall enrollment grew this past year, driven by increases in new undergraduate students. Enrollment of new first-year students increased 7.7 percent while the number of transfer students, including those who transferred from Mount Ida College, increased 20.2 percent.
When Mount Ida College announced in the spring that it would close, UMass Dartmouth offered a warm welcome to the displaced students, empowering them to complete their degrees as seamlessly as possible.
Class enrollments for Online & Continuing Education have increased 14.6 percent over the last two years.
At the graduate level, overall enrollment grew 1.9 percent, from 1,642 to 1,673. This was driven by the School of Law, which enrolled 94 new students this fall, a 17.5 percent increase over last year.
Recognized for excellence
UMassD achieved new recognitions this year, including a listing in The Princeton Review's Guide to 399 Green Colleges.
Results from the July 2018 Massachusetts Bar Exam demonstrate the success of the only public law school in the Commonwealth. The first-time pass rate for UMass Law graduates was 92.6 percent, the third highest pass rate in the state.
As a recipient of a 2018 Kendall Foundation Food Vision Prize, the university will create educational opportunities for students to learn about the importance of using local, sustainable food.
The Art Career Project, a nationally recognized resource for art students and professionals, ranked CVPA's Textile Design/Fiber Arts program as 17th in the country.
Exchange agreements with Portugal
In 2018, UMassD established student and faculty exchange agreements with several Portuguese universities: University of Algarve, University of Aveiro, University of Coimbra, University of Minho, University of Porto.
Officials from Portugal's Camões Institute, the lead Portuguese government unit responsible for the internationalization of higher education, extended a partnership agreement between the two institutions for two more years, funding students as they pursue their doctorates and assist in the teaching of Portuguese language courses.
New degrees & concentrations
The university added new degrees and concentrations this year to address emerging disciplines and to strengthen current workforce competencies. New degrees include:
- MS in Finance
- BA in Health and Society
- BA and BS degrees in Public Administration
- JD/MSW (UMass Law jointly with Bridgewater State University)
- PhD in STEM Education
The College of Engineering created new concentrations in the growth fields of biomedical engineering, cyber security, and environmental resources engineering.
Year of the astronaut
For UMassD, 2018 was the "year of the astronaut," as alumnus Scott Tingle '87 spoke to students and faculty live from the International Space Station in March and returned to campus in November to share his experiences as an astronaut and the inspirational story of his success. The conversation provided students from UMassD and area K-12 school districts an opportunity to discuss with a graduate how to apply their degrees.
Tingle graduated from Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMassD) with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1987.