By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
Just as a country needs a king and a plane needs a pilot, UMass Dartmouth needs a new chancellor.
At the same time America is deciding its new president, members of the UMass board of trustees are beginning to search for our college’s new chancellor.
After Chancellor Grossman stepped down under pressure in late 2015, it left many wondering what was happening behind the scenes, and what direction the university was heading in.
Controversies arose concerning Divina Grossman’s handling of the university’s budget and the rate of enrollment during her three year stay as chancellor. The drop in enrollment, however, is often credited to the Boston bombing incident in 2012.
In the meantime, Peyton Helm has stepped in as interim chancellor, and his short stay in the head office has been well received.
Ultimately, the choice will have to be made regarding Grossman’s true replacement. Will it be a name we already know on staff at UMass Dartmouth, or will it be someone with outside experience?
To find this leader, President Marty Meehan has arranged a search committee of 16 well-respected members of the community to help make the decision. The committee includes board members, professors, and even a member of the student body designated to give input.
“World class leadership at UMass Dartmouth is crucial to the campus and to the entire SouthCoast region,” President Meehan said.
“The Committee is tasked with conducting a national search that will be comprehensive, transparent and inclusive….we are aiming high and intend to attract the very best.”
The student body is also awaiting the selection of a new chancellor, and they have their own opinions about what they want to see in our new leader.
“I want a personable chancellor who’s down to earth and takes the time to focus on making UMass Dartmouth a better place,” says Benjamin Popkes, a business major.
Brendan Finegan, another business major, told us, “What I think is the most important quality about the new chancellor is that they invest in our education with well thought-out budget management and strong faculty.”
On the other side, sophomore Matthew Sylvia commented, “He or she should have bravado, and not dictate how long my showers should take.”
The search committee’s list of credentials will likely be more serious and limiting.
President Meehan and his committee of 16 individuals will be seeking candidates who will match the standards set by previous leaders, and who will keep UMass Dartmouth running as a Tier 1 university.
The committee is looking for someone who’s more than qualified to fill the position as the leader of a university.
Current Interim Chancellor Helm has 12 years of experience leading other colleges, and the committee is seeking someone even more qualified than him.
Some specific goals for our new chancellor are going to be the ability to increase enrollment and student retention rate, as well as keeping a well-balanced budget.
Expanding the UMass Dartmouth campus is also important to the committee. The addition to the Charlton College of Business was well received, and a chancellor who enacts more beneficial construction could be what the campus needs to modernize and attract the newest generation of college students.
Helm has done a good job leading as far as morale goes; he personally helped students during the move-in process in early September. However, he won’t have a large impact on financial grounds in the long run.
The search committee will come up with several candidates for chancellor, and they will be brought to President Meehan, where he will approve one of them and await approval from the UMass Board of Trustees.
If you’re a student and you have input you want to bring up to the committee, there will be three sessions where you can do so:
Student session – Thursday, October 13, noon to 1 p.m. at Woodlawn Commons.
Open forum – Thursday, October 13, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Woodlawn Commons.
Open forum – Friday, October 14, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Library Grand Reading Room.
RSVP to Amy Mangold at 508.999.8006 if you want to attend.
Anyone on campus can make a difference in the search for a new chancellor. Together with President Meehan and the search committee, we will find a leader to continue moving UMass Dartmouth upwards.