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Around the Pond

Fine Arts Center named for transformative leader

Randolph W. “Bill” Bromery served as chancellor of the university from 1971–79. His rich legacy as a transformative Black leader, scientist, and lifelong saxophonist is now memorialized by the Fine Arts Center building that will be named in his honor.

The Randolph W. Bromery Center for the Arts is a fitting tribute for Bromery, who recruited jazz legends Max Roach, Archie Shepp, and Fred Tillis to the music department faculty and oversaw construction of the Fine Arts Center. Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy recommended the honor and noted that as we “reflect on the campus’s history working in support of social justice and inclusion, we are eager to appropriately acknowledge a chancellor who has had such an enormous impact on our space, reputation, and path toward excellence.”

Bromery arrived at UMass Amherst in 1967 as a geology professor and became the first African American to lead the campus. Under his leadership the campus became a catalyst for racial equity, increasing admissions and support for minority students. Bromery worked tirelessly to bring the archives of W.E.B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond to campus and helped form the Five College Consortium. He died in 2013 at the age of 87.



Reaching a Forgotten Fraction

Many systemic factors make it difficult for people with a criminal record to rejoin society, but Annie Raymond, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, may just have a solution: math.

Raymond learned that math courses are one of the biggest barriers to the completion of an associate degree. Offering math classes to inmates can bridge that gap. And studies show that as the level of education goes up, recidivism goes down—sharply. The recidivism rate drops from near 70% for those without a degree to 13.7% for those who’ve earned an associate degree and 5.6% for those with a bachelor’s degree.

Raymond began teaching inmates in 2016 at the Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington state and was struck by the eagerness and curiosity of the inmates in her class. When she came to UMass in 2018, she started teaching at the Hampshire County Jail. One of her courses, called Math for the Real World, covered “introductory topics in combinatorics, probability, statistics, linear algebra, and optimization.”

Classes at the jail have been suspended during the coronavirus pandemic, but Raymond says, “I hope to resume once it is safe to do so,” and notes that “Visits and programs run by volunteers make prison life more bearable.”

Raymond showcases a diverse group of mathematicians and computer scientists from around the world in the photo and interview project For All.

Testing, Testing…

100+ junior and senior nursing students performed COVID-19 testing at the Mullins Center over the fall semester, earning clinical hours that counted toward their degrees

1,500 students lived on campus during the fall semester (pre-pandemic, the campus housed 13,000 students in 52 residence halls)

99% of COVID-19 test results were processed and reported within 24 hours, many of them at the IALS lab on campus

2,175 COVID-19 testing appointments were available at the Mullins Center each week, including drive-through options


A view of the Large Hadron Collider

A view of the Large Hadron Collider

Thinking Big—and Very Small

In the new Physical Sciences Building that opened in 2019, researchers are contributing to experiments on another continent—and helping to unravel the secrets of the universe.

Professor Stéphane Willocq is the lead physics coordinator of the ATLAS experiment at CERN (the European Laboratory for Particle Physics) in Switzerland, home of the Large Hadron Collider—the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. The experiment uses the collider to smash particle beams together, creating new forms of matter that can then be measured by the ATLAS particle detector. “We are creating new particles that we can study to understand what are the most fundamental constituents of matter,” says Willocq. “This is very closely tied to how we understand the universe: how it was formed, how it evolved over time, and how it ultimately will evolve.”

A view of the Large Hadron Collider

Courtesy of CERN.

Willocq has worked on the ATLAS experiment since 2004, and in the state-of-the-art lab at UMass, he and other physics faculty are playing a significant role in developing two components for a major upgrade of the detector: an inner tracker that measures the trajectories of charged particles, and a muon trigger system. The upgrades will support a factor of 10 increase in luminosity of the collider, allowing for an even wider range of research. “There are still very many unanswered puzzles to address,” says Willocq. “We are far from being done.”