by Jonathan Moniz, Staff Writer
First organized in April of 2014, the UMass Dartmouth Transform 2020 project, led by provost Dr. Mohammad Karim and a strategic planning committee, continues.
The project was approved by former Chancellor Divina Grossman and re-initiated by Interim Chancellor Helm. Its goal is to transform the college into a Doctoral Research institute, which will provide more affordable and enhanced education.
While the project did begin in 2014, the end date is scheduled for the year 2020. By then, it is envisioned that the university will have completed all the necessary renovations for this project.
There are a number of developments being implemented over the next four years, and many include projects such as the recent building addition to the Charlton College of Business.
There are also numerous revisions also planned for the infrastructure and campus designed to benefit students.
There are many goals outlined within the project, the majority of which center around enhancing student success. Some of these planned goals are ideas such as providing for more educational and research opportunities.
Another goal is to improve community interaction, funding, and co-operation between the campus, the surrounding towns, industrial companies, and local, state, and federal level programs.
The program officially began in the Fall semester of 2014, having engaged in multiple discussions with various stakeholders, committees, the Student Government Association, and various members of the campus administration.
One of the first initiatives involves developing an integrated and streamlined school-transition, starting at pre-K and continuing up to college. This is being created to develop a more collaborative and unified education that will help kids progress better in school as they move from one grade to another.
In order to support more academic progress and achievement, much of the renovations will focus on areas such as the Liberal Arts Commons that was recently renovated in the Spring of 2016 as well as the new Charlton College of Business pavilion.
These projects are designed to give more space and availability for students to progress not only with academic opportunities, but also with programs designed to increase student activity and ability.
The other aspect of the 2020 Transform project has been an increased emphasis on research and providing that option for many of the students here at Dartmouth with regards to application of the knowledge learned within classrooms.
As part of the university’s recent stance on increased transparency with university functions, Grossman and Karim involved the Student Government on campus in the organizational plans. They also published two documents on the UMass Dartmouth website about the project.
The project discussion and format lacked in specifics, and many students were unaware of the exact nature of the project, or even its existence. It only framed general goals and guidelines without exact data.
Alex Ortiz, a junior Management Information Systems major at UMass Dartmouth, responded with positive reception for the project, commenting how he thought it would “be a good move for the school and definitively give UMass Dartmouth a better name for itself.”
Charlees Shelby, a first year Psychology major, also liked the idea but wished there was more knowledge about it and for more students to be informed, saying it was a “good idea, but more people need to know about it.”
Ortiz raised the same questions, saying that it wasn’t “talked about as much as it should have been”.
Chancellor Helm sent out an email on September 6, the day before classes started, outlining further details about the plan. He also proposed gathering federal and outside funding for renovations of the Liberal Arts and Science and Engineering buildings.
At the end of his email, Chancellor Helm called for students and staff and administration on campus with the message that “if we all think creatively about our responsibilities and the importance of efficiency and excellent customer service, we can doubtless find many more ways to make our work more satisfying and our stakeholders (internal and external) more satisfied”.
For more information, there is a PDF outlining the UMassD 2020 Project on the UMass Dartmouth website.