This year was truly unique. A global pandemic transformed every facet of our lives and affected the health and wellbeing of millions of people. We all shifted to living, learning, and working remotely, constantly forgetting to unmute ourselves. It was a difficult year. Yet through it all, the students, faculty, and staff at UMass Dartmouth persevered and adapted. The accomplishments of our community this year showcased the talent, dedication, and innovation that takes place at UMass Dartmouth – even if it might not occur on the campus itself. As we head into a new year, take some time to review our favorite 20 stories of 2020 and realize how special our community of learners is – no matter the circumstances.
In 1895, UMass Dartmouth’s predecessor institutions opened their doors in Fall River and New Bedford as textile schools. Now fast forward a century or so to UMass Dartmouth celebrating its 125th anniversary. Years of continual innovation have positioned the University for a bright future.
In a year where healthcare workers were finally recognized as heroes, Nursing students from the College of Nursing & Health Sciences showed they are ready to enter the workforce with high-quality skills. With a 95% pass rate, these future nurses are ready to make a difference.
This year was big for UMassD’s blue economy ambitions due to grants from the Office of Naval Research. The recently established Marine and UnderSea Technology research program (MUST) received $4.6M and $4.2M to support research and training in undersea technology areas including acoustics, signal processing, sensing, communications, and autonomous underwater vehicles. Since 2015, the Navy has awarded the university with 21 grants worth nearly $14 million in investment.
Associate Professor Shakhnoza Kayumova (STEM Education & Teacher Development) from the College of Arts and Sciences was featured in the 2020 STEM for All Video Showcase funded by the National Science Foundation. Kayumova presented her research designing a robust science program that explicitly positions emergent bilingual/multilingual students as cognitively advantaged in science learning in the New Bedford and Fall River Public School Districts.
In early 2020, Associate Professor Erin Bromage's (Biology) infectious diseases class began tracking a new virus. Bromage, who studies the immune system, began writing about this novel coronavirus and when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, his blog was read and shared millions of times. The New York Times called his post an “impressively clear explanation” of how COVID-19 can spread and practical safety actions which eventually led to his regular contributions on CNN shows.
Though the 2020 spring athletics season was canceled due to the pandemic, that didn’t stop UMassD student-athletes from excelling. Many student-athletes used their time away from the training room to work in hospitals, nursing homes, and community health centers to help their communities battle COVID-19.
The Baker-Polito Administration, in partnership with the State of Rhode Island and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, announced SMAST researchers are part of a $1.1M regional fisheries studies project to analyze the impact of new Offshore Wind development. Professor Kevin Stokesbury (Fisheries Oceanography) and his team will conduct towed net surveys for larval lobster and small fish throughout the wind energy areas.
On July 1, the Charlton College of Business welcomed John A. Williams, Ph.D., as Dean. Williams most recently served as Dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of New Orleans where his research focused on the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill in the greater New Orleans area.
After the University went fully remote in March, students, faculty, and staff gathered virtually to plan for the fall 2020 semester with updated policies and protocols that adhere to the latest science-based safety recommendations. This allowed UMassD to invite a modest number of students to live on campus and hold clinicals, studios, and lab courses face-to-face. This plan laid the foundation for the spring 2021 semester plan that makes incremental steps towards having even more students, faculty, and staff living and learning on campus.
The Baker-Polito Administration awarded UMassD a $100,000 grant to begin a feasibility study on how to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The funding will help develop a Comprehensive Energy Master Plan to help understand the investment and implementation requirements to reach a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 80% by 2050.
After the departure of Chancellor Robert E. Johnson, UMass President Marty Meehan appointed Vice Chancellor Mark Preble to serve as Acting Chancellor and Professor Michael Goodman as Acting Provost. “I want to thank Mark and Michael for accepting this leadership responsibility as we continue the search for longer term leadership that will position UMass Dartmouth for success for many years to come,” said Meehan.
Throughout 2020, America reckoned with a lack of racial justice within society. UMassD looked inward as well to understand and act upon how the University can be a more equitable place for all students. To help with this important process, David Gomes was appointed as Chief Diversity Officer/Title IX Coordinator. Gomes will direct the University’s efforts in identifying, analyzing, and eliminating obstacles to diversity and inclusion efforts by promoting equity across campus.
To continue providing students with opportunities to succeed, the Academic Resource Center (ARC) received a $2.35 million TRiO grant to implement support services to students of underrepresented populations, including students who identify as first-generation, low-income, or disabled, enrolled in business courses and STEM-specific programs. This funding gives UMassD students the support they need to reach their academic, professional, and personal ambitions for years to come.
UMass Law began its academic year with 146 new students, a 30.4% increase over last year, bringing total enrollment of the Commonwealth’s only public law school to 360 students. Before this record-setting class, UMass Law’s enrollment growth over the past three years ranked third among the more than 200 ABA-accredited law schools in the country on a percentage basis. This increase in students means UMass Law will launch even more impactful legal careers with a focus on community.
Announced in the summer of 2019, UMassD’s Honors College was formed to create a vibrant and innovative learning environment for dedicated students that want to pursue their individualized research and learning ambitions. This past fall saw first-year enrollment increase significantly from 92 students in 2019 to 133 students. The jump in enrollment of more than 40% follows the college’s evolution with now more than 40 course sections and a 1:1 student to faculty research ratio.
UMassD once again proved its power to transform the lives of students when U.S. News & World Report ranked the University #76 nationwide and #2 in Massachusetts on their 2021 Top Performers on Social Mobility list. The accolade honors UMassD’s impact on the upward social mobility of its Pell Grant eligible students after they graduate.
Always looking to aid the local community, the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement began a Jumpstart program that pairs 30 UMassD students as tutors and mentors with 100 Pre-K children in New Bedford. UMassD Jumpstart members will spend hundreds of hours ensuring children develop key kindergarten readiness skills.
With a focus on providing students with skills to gain jobs in growing industries, UMassD was proud to be designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity - Cyber Research by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The College of Engineering earned this prestigious classification through the demonstrated success and commitment to prepare students to address national challenges related to cybersecurity as well as advanced faculty research in the field.
Regional collaborators UMassD and Bridgewater State began two joint accelerated Master of Science programs in Physics and Electrical Engineering. The educational partnership agreement will provide undergraduate students at BSU with an accelerated pathway to earning a graduate degree and research opportunities in the UMassD College of Engineering.
The College of Visual & Performing Arts added little SPARKLE to the holiday season during a day-long event of festivities in downtown New Bedford. SPARKLE brought sights and sounds to the city, while staying outdoors and socially distant, through a variety of musical performances and art exhibits.