Subbaswamy, area leaders kick off new academic year at Community Breakfast
The annual Community Breakfast is always a big draw for local academic, civic and business leaders, but this year’s crowd had more than bacon and eggs on their minds. Nearly 400 people attended the Aug. 29 event in the Student Union Ballroom to hear new Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy set the tone for the new school year.
Subbaswamy, who took office July 1, quickly charmed the audience by joking, “Nancy [Buffone] said we’ve got to finish by 9, so thank you and goodbye.”
Noting time he’d spent in college towns in India, Indiana, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and Italy, Subbaswamy said he was excited to add Amherst to the list and noted that none of those other universities have “this wonderful tradition of a community breakfast.”
The former University of Kentucky provost described himself as a “higher ed junkie” and said he felt privileged to live in what was recently called “the best college town in America.”
Subbaswamy stressed the need for the university and the town to view themselves as one community where “all are working for the common good.”
“When we do our best, we all benefit,” he said. “What belongs to all of is the responsibility of all of us.”
Subbaswamy took time to thank his wife, Mala, for her support and sacrifice as he begins a new chapter in his career. He also encouraged people to introduce themselves and share their views. “As a physicist, I’m open to new ideas,” he said. “You’ll find me to be a very good listener.”
He praised the quality of UMass Amherst and reminded the crowd that the campus will be marking its 150th anniversary in 2013. Subbaswamy also cited some of the campus’s achievements in academics, veterans services, sustainability and called for continuing improvements by invoking the mantra of Dining Services impresario Ken Toong: “We can do better.”
The event also included remarks from leaders of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, which co-sponsors the breakfast. Executive director Tony Maroulis told the chancellor, “The community wishes you well. The success of the university is the success of our community as well.”
Chamber president Kathy Grandonico praised the campus for promoting student patronage of local businesses and using locally grown produce in the dining commons. She called Amherst a “perfect to place to live” and added, “Students are a vital part of our community.”
Among those in attendance were state Sen. Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst), and state representatives Peter Kocot (D-Northampton), John Scibak (D-South Hadley) and Ellen Story (D-Amherst), and officials from Amherst, Deerfield, Hadley and Pelham. New UMass Police Chief John Horvath was also in the audience.
The event is coordinated by External Relations and University Events.