The University of Massachusetts Amherst held its 11th annual Faculty Convocation Oct. 2, with Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy offering his detailed vision for the university’s “surge to national and international prominence.”
The gathering also honored six nationally acclaimed faculty members who received the Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity.
As he enters his fourth year as chancellor, Subbaswamy told the convocation that the campus has made great strides in recent years and said strengthening the faculty was a key to continued success. “From the high academic quality of our students, to our ever-expanding research profile, to the exceptional accomplishments of our faculty as witnessed today, the flagship campus has reached heights that few could have imagined just a few short years ago. But while we should all be proud of what we’ve accomplished together, we are not done. We have a special role in the life of the Commonwealth,” he said.
Subbaswamy said both historically and today, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “has staked its future on innovation, and on the leadership in education that fuels innovation.”
The chancellor told the convocation that UMass Amherst plays a unique role in that process because it is the place that educates the sons and daughters of the state’s residents in numbers much larger than the top-level private colleges in Massachusetts. “There are many universities in Massachusetts, but only one university for Massachusetts. Our special obligation is to bring the enormous benefits of world-class undergraduate and graduate education to the people of the state.”
Subbaswamy said there are two impediments to UMass Amherst reaching national and international prominence: the need to significantly increase the number of faculty, and the need to overcome “a crushing debt burden necessitated by an aging campus and inadequate state stewardship of its enormous investment here.” Solving the debt problem will allow the university to address the need for more faculty, he said.
Subbaswamy told the convocation that the rise in recognition and prestige for UMass Amherst is happening at a time of critical state leadership alignment. “On the state level, Senate President Stan Rosenberg is a proud and loyal alumnus. He has a long history of supporting public education in general, and the University of Massachusetts in particular. Additionally, there is a record number of UMass alumni in the state legislature who, along with their colleagues, have supported major increases in state funding for the university over the past several years. We are also fortunate to currently have nine members of the University Board of Trustees who are affiliated with the Amherst campus as alumni or residents of Western Massachusetts. And, very importantly, President Meehan is focused on moving the university forward, and has already demonstrated his belief that advancing the flagship campus is key to achieving the system’s ambitions,” Subbaswamy said.
Faculty honored for their outstanding accomplishments were Eric M. Berlin, music and dance; Janet S. Fink, sport management; Peter M. Haas, political science; Kathleen R. Lugosch, architecture; Yeonhwa Park, food science, and Baoshan Xing, Stockbridge School of Agriculture.
The convocation was preceded by an academic processional from Cape Cod Lounge in the Student Union Building to Stockbridge Hall. A luncheon reception in the Student Union Ballroom for the honorees was held immediately after the ceremony.