News 2024: Chancellor's Spring 2024 Update

News 2024: Chancellor's Spring 2024 Update
Chancellor's Spring 2024 Update

Chancellor Fuller provides faculty and staff with an update heading into the spring

Dear UMass Dartmouth Staff and Faculty,

I want to share a few updates with you, and trust that your semester is off to a good start. The energy on campus is palpable this spring—it was great to see so many of you at the recent MLK Breakfast and at the Years of Service event, cheering on your colleagues who were nominated for awards by their peers or are celebrating major milestones at UMass Dartmouth. It underscored just how dedicated all of us are to creating a great educational experience for our students, year after year.

Growing Enrollment

As a result of the outstanding educational experience that all of you provide, our enrollment continues to grow. Last fall we welcomed the largest first-time, first-year entering class since 2015, and recruitment for next fall’s entering class is tracking ahead of where we were this time last year. I’m grateful to all the faculty and staff who participated in last fall’s Open Houses, and to all of you who are preparing to meet prospective students and families at the Admitted Student events this spring. They are eager to learn more about our offerings, and your engagement—and the insights only you can provide into your respective programs—make a huge difference.

In addition, last fall we saw the first growth in our total enrollment in over a decade (excluding 2018 when we accepted an influx of students from Mt. Ida). This spring, our enrollment is also higher than it was last spring. These gains are a combination of our growing recruitment, higher retention of our transfer students and the addition of early college and dual enrollment programs. While there is still much work to do as we continue to address the social, financial and academic factors that influence student retention, I’m encouraged by these early signs of progress.


Our research footprint is growing at an impressive rate and our faculty’s pathbreaking work in a wide range of fields continues to be recognized by prestigious funding agencies and industry partnerships. We should all be proud that UMass Dartmouth was the lead Massachusetts partner in the federal government-designated Ocean Tech Hub of Southeastern New England, and is also a partner in the new Academic Center for the Reliability and Resilience of Offshore Wind and NASA’s Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) mission, to name just a few recent examples.

Strategic Roadmap for UMass Dartmouth

With Provost Ram Bala now in place, I am eager to move forward with a roughly nine-month process to chart a high-level strategic roadmap for our university. As I’ve said in many forums over the last three years, as a former business Dean and long-time educator, I have a strong preference for strategic planning work that uses everyone’s time wisely and focuses on what can quickly move the needle on the most critical areas of work.

That’s why I’ve asked Ram and former Faculty Senate President Doug Roscoe to co-lead a campuswide effort this spring to articulate the immediate, practical strategies and tactics that UMass Dartmouth can implement over the next three years to make the most progress toward our goals of enhancing student recruitment and success, expanding our research enterprise, and growing our national and global reputation for excellence. This effort also aligns well with Ram’s plans to work with the Colleges and Schools to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to improve student retention. This strategic roadmap is intended to be concise, have measurable outcomes, and be adaptable as we discover what is working and what isn’t.

You’ll hear more about the next steps in the process from Ram and Doug soon.

Leadership Searches: CCB Dean, CFO and CRO

As you heard from Dean Sam Panarella recently, the search for the next Dean of the Charlton College of Business is progressing well, and we expect to have finalists on campus in April. I’d like to convey my thanks to the committee for all their work on this critical search, and for everyone’s future involvement in helping convey our institutional momentum and positive work culture to these candidates.

We are also launching a national search this spring for UMass Dartmouth’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). This is a pivotal role for UMass Dartmouth, and I’m looking for an experienced professional who can help us continue to fuel our planned enrollment growth, fund necessary capital projects, engage in thoughtful long-term planning, and appropriately involve and inform the campus community in shaping our budget.

Since appointing Ram Bala as our Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, I have reflected on how best to continue UMass Dartmouth’s strong momentum in research, innovation and creative work. As you all know, Ram served as our chief research officer since 2020, during which time our research footprint has grown exponentially. I have great confidence in Ram’s compelling vision for the future development of our research enterprise and have explored with him at length the ways that the university can continue its momentum in supporting faculty across all colleges in their scholarship and creative work.

After careful consideration, and given Ram’s expertise and demonstrated success in this area, I have decided to ask Ram to appoint a Chief Research Officer (CRO) who will report to the Provost; he will announce more details about the search process soon. Although this role will no longer report to me, I expect to engage regularly with Ram and the new CRO around our strategies to advance research, creative work and innovation.

A Supportive Workplace

All of this positive energy, momentum and success is due to the collective efforts of our staff and faculty—and retaining and developing our employees is just as important as retaining and supporting our students. I appreciate how hard each of you works to provide an incredible educational experience for our students. Whether you’re involving students in your research program, delivering crucial student services, ensuring that our facilities and grounds look fantastic, working with student groups to plan events, giving students early feedback in your class so they know what they need to work on, keeping the campus safe, or supporting our athletic teams, your contribution makes a huge difference. Based on the feedback we heard during the Campus Climate Survey, our Human Resources team has been offering a host of programs this year to foster communication, good management, work-life balance, and other hallmarks of a thriving, supportive workplace. It’s been great to see so many of you participating in those sessions—we’ll continue to provide resources like those in the coming years.


Mark A. Fuller, PhD