2023 2023: Chancellor's Fall 2023 Update

2023 2023: Chancellor's Fall 2023 Update
Chancellor's Fall 2023 Update

Chancellor Fuller provides updates to the campus community at the start of the fall semester

From the desk of Chancellor Mark A. Fuller

Dear UMass Dartmouth Staff and Faculty,

Welcome back! It was great to see so many of you on Tuesday at Convocation and our all-campus BBQ, with the whole community enjoying each other’s company despite the heat. It’s going to be a great year.

Recruitment & Retention

It’s exciting to see everyone’s collective efforts make UMass Dartmouth the destination of choice for a growing number of students. Although our numbers are preliminary as of the start of classes, our undergraduate incoming class is the highest since 2015, a remarkable achievement. We also saw the first increase in the number of returning undergraduate students in nearly a decade. Finally, this year also saw us achieve a record high in new graduate students and total graduate enrollment. All of these positive developments combined mean that the university’s total enrollment has grown for the first time since 2018. This is the result of a tremendous collective effort from the entire UMass Dartmouth community. While there is still much to do, we should take a moment to celebrate this outstanding result for our students.

This is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when we all work together towards a common goal! I’d like to thank the Deans, faculty, and staff in all of our Colleges and Schools, who have partnered with Enrollment Management and Student Affairs to create amazing Open Houses, Admitted Student Days and New Student Orientation programs. I’d also like to recognize your outstanding partnership with the Office of Graduate Studies and the International Student & Scholar Center to expand graduate enrollment across the university—with a special shout out to all our graduate program directors. Please join me in thanking our outstanding Admission staff who have strategically expanded recruitment activities across the Northeast—allowing them to interact with record numbers of prospective students and families building excitement about UMass Dartmouth. Kudos as well to all our coaches in Athletics, who have expanded their recruitment efforts, and to the Marketing team, who have revamped all of our admissions materials.

And speaking of bringing the thunder, our campus has never looked better, thanks to our terrific Facilities team! This positive impact goes beyond rising enrollment numbers—it also affects the number of students who are choosing to live in campus housing. In addition to our nearly full P3 dorms and overall growth in our undergraduates living on campus, our new graduate housing initiative now has nearly 250 graduate and law students living on campus—up from just a handful two years ago. I can’t thank the Housing Office and Student Service Center enough for working nearly around the clock through August to help thousands of students choose rooms, set up payment plans, and—with the help of hundreds of volunteers from across campus along with our university police department—create an awesome move-in experience for our students and their families.


Our outstanding research programs differentiate UMass Dartmouth from all the other higher education institutions in our region and are helping to draw undergraduate and graduate students from across the country and around the world. I’m delighted to report that UMassD’s portfolio of active research grants continues to grow. Last year our new research awards matched the previous year’s record high of $27M, and grant expenditures rose to $22.8M, a 34% increase over the previous all-time high. We continue to have a tremendous scientific and societal impact in our areas of core strength, such as fisheries, marine science and technologies, high-performance computing, cybersecurity, life sciences and STEM education.

We should all be proud to see our colleagues be recognized for their scholarship and creative work through prestigious fellowships and awards, like Associate Professor Shakhnoza Kayumova (STEM Education & Teacher Development) and Associate Professor Arpita Joardar (Management & Marketing), who were named U.S. Fulbright Scholars. Professor Pamela Karimi (Art Education, Art History & Media Studies) received a Helen E. Ellis Charitable Trust grant, a residency position at the Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Princeton University, and a year-long fellowship from the Käte Hamburger Kolleg für Apokalyptische und Postapokalyptische Studien at the University of Heidelberg. Assistant Teaching Professor Stephanie McGoldrick (Interior Architecture + Design) won the 2023 Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching and was a featured speaker at Convocation on Tuesday.

Strategic Planning

One of the things driving our success is clarity of purpose. Our focus on the “4 R’s”—Recruitment, Retention, Research and Reputation—is paying dividends for our students and for the campus. These are likely to remain our overarching priorities for years to come. That said, the Provost and I have discussed that the time seems right to do additional strategic planning to build on our early success. This academic year, I’d like the whole campus community to embark on a strategic planning process together. 

What do I mean by that? Let me start by telling you what I don’t mean—I don’t believe that a long, drawn-out process resulting in a 200-page strategic plan that just ends up sitting in a desk drawer is what we need. I don’t want a process that burdens faculty and staff who are already busy delivering our core mission of educating, supporting and launching students. So as a first step, I’d like to start some conversations this month about what our strategic planning process should be like, and the kinds of goals and outcomes we’d like to see it generate. I look forward to hearing your ideas about what an energizing and productive strategic planning process might look like and how we can track our progress in meeting its goals. Input from staff and faculty will be integral to shaping the process, and there will be many opportunities for everyone to take part.

Leadership Searches

There are some key campus leadership positions that I am eager to fill on a permanent basis this year, and so I will be launching several searches this fall. Foremost among these is the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. I intend to launch an internal search for this position in the next few weeks and have already reached out to both the Faculty Senate and the Faculty Federation seeking their suggestions for the membership of that search committee. 

We will also search for two other cabinet-level positions this fall. First, we will run a national search for a permanent appointment to the university’s Chief Financial Officer—a role that is crucial to the university’s continuing success as we work to grow our enrollment and continue to build on the high quality of our academic programs and our research enterprise. Second is the new role of Chief Marketing Officer, which will oversee our university marketing and communications efforts. In recent years, these areas have reported to the Vice Chancellor for Advancement, but I have decided to make marketing a cabinet level position—a common structure at many public research universities—given that it serves so many university constituencies and is so critical to university success. With Dean Hickey’s departure to Western New England University later this month, this restructure comes at a natural inflection point. In terms of the remaining areas of Advancement, I plan to appoint an Acting Vice Chancellor for Advancement for this academic year, and defer a search for that role until the spring semester, given the number of other searches we will be involved in. 

I will be consulting with the Faculty Senate and with our union leadership regarding the search committee membership for these key positions and will update the campus community as committees are formed and at appropriate points as each of the searches unfold. 

Facilities & Infrastructure Improvements

I know that VC for Administration & Facilities David Gingerella will send out a recap of all our summer projects soon, but I hope you all have noticed the terrific improvements that are being made across campus. Over the summer, we completed 87 projects, including upgrading 10 labs in SENG and 1 in DION, installing speed tables around Ring Road, rebuilding many elevators, the ongoing installation of new doors on buildings around the Quad, WiFi upgrades, and many more.

I also want to warmly thank the CVPA faculty and staff, Dean Lawrence Jenkens and his team, Interim Provost Ram Bala, Pauline Entin and Tom Boone from the Provost’s Office, and David Gingerella and the entire Capital Projects and Facilities teams who have all worked tirelessly to relocate our CVPA programs when we lost the use of the Star Store unexpectedly in mid-August. Their dedication to providing an outstanding arts education and supporting our students through this transition has been truly inspiring. We are continuing to finalize and renovate the temporary spaces that will house the programs this year. To ensure that UMass Dartmouth can provide excellent facilities for these programs in the longer term, we will be bringing to campus some consulting architects who have a long history of creating and renovating space for art programs. Provost Bala and Dean Jenkens will be sharing more information with CVPA faculty and staff about this planning process soon.

As another vibrant academic year gets underway, thanks for all that you are doing to educate, support and inspire our students, and have a great fall semester.



Mark A. Fuller, PhD