Dear UMass Dartmouth Community,
First, I want to thank everyone who sent kind notes and offered their support as I take on this new role. I also want to thank President Meehan for the opportunity. We have tremendous challenges ahead of us, but I am thrilled to work with you in addressing them.
I did not anticipate that I would be in this position when I returned to UMass Dartmouth last fall. Nor did any of us anticipate how our lives would be turned upside down by COVID-19. I am not surprised, however, that the campus came together last spring and rallied behind our students and each other. The deans, the unions, faculty, staff, and other individuals from every aspect of campus life worked collaboratively to keep each other safe and enable our students to progress. We did not always agree, but by exploring our disagreements we were able to make the best decisions for our community.
As the pandemic continues, we find ourselves isolated and, perhaps, short on patience. But we cannot give up or give in. We cannot allow the virus and the challenges it has created to break the spirit of this community. We have a solid reopening plan, but one that will require each one of us to be vigilant every day. We will succeed only if we refuse to accept anything less.
We are fortunate to have a talented, dedicated leadership team, that includes a new Acting Provost, Dr. Michael Goodman. Mike has been a strong advocate for the faculty during his time as President of the Faculty Senate and has been generous with his time and perspective as we continue to plan for the fall.
We will, however, be launching a search for an interim provost. That search will include voices from across campus. More information about how to get involved will be issued shortly.
To ensure the safest possible return to campus for our students, faculty, and staff, Alex Fowler has stepped down as Associate Provost for Research and Economic Development so he can focus entirely on COVID-19 preparations for the fall semester. Starting immediately, Alex will assume the role of Special Assistant to the Chancellor for COVID-19 Preparations and serve on the Implementation Team. Over the next six weeks, he will continue to manage and oversee safe lab and studio access, to analyze and map out classroom capacities, and to work with Facilities and Environmental Health & Safety to assess and optimize airflow in instructional spaces. Reporting directly to the Chancellor will enable more effective coordination of the various on-campus units that need to be engaged in these processes.
As we continue to look forward, I know we can succeed because we have already shown that we can. During the short time that I was away from the campus, UMass Dartmouth became a top tier doctoral research university, achieved full ABA accreditation for the Law School, built new residence halls and dining facilities, became a national leader in the Blue Economy, and most recently held a very successful NECHE visit. These are just some of our great accomplishments, but they demonstrate what we can accomplish when we come together and set our sights on a common goal.
The solution to our challenges lies in us and our dedication to the campus and each other. I look forward to discussing our path forward at a Town Hall on Thursday, August 13. You will receive an invitation soon.
Keep safe Corsairs. I look forward to working with you.
Mark Preble, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Chief Operating Officer and Acting Chancellor