By Alex Solari, Staff Writer
This year at the Fall Family Festival, I saw a familiar face that I had never actually seen in person. It was a face that I had seen on the UMass Dartmouth home page, and even in the Monday Updates we receive in our Zimbra (now Outlook) mailbox. It was Chancellor Helm, the man who has been the leader of our University since the Spring of 2016.
I expected him to be intimidating, and have an unapproachable stature that let everyone know who was in charge. However, he blended right in with the crowd, with a modest pair of jeans and simple jacket. I only realized it was him because he was at the same vendor I was at, and he looked right at me and smiled.
I wanted to say something like, “Hey Mr. Chancellor, nice to meet you!” But despite his approachable smile, I decided to not say anything. From that moment on, I had a liking for Chancellor Helm. Through the time as our chancellor, he has given me even more reasons to appreciate him as our leader.
There are many aspects of being a chancellor that students never see, and there are many things the chancellor does that we never hear about.
However, there are quite a few clear examples of Chancellor Helm proving himself to be a strong leader throughout his time with UMass Dartmouth.
One of these examples was his statement regarding the detainment of two UMass Dartmouth professors at Logan Airport as a result of an executive order from Donald Trump. In Helm and Provost Karim’s statement, they first explained that the professors were safely home, but then expressed his opposition of this order.
They said, “we believe the executive order does nothing to make our country safer and represents a shameful ignorance of and indifference to the values that have traditionally made America a beacon of liberty and hope.”
They went on to say that the University is committed to freedom and the protection of rights, and that the well-being of students, faculty, and staff is top priority.
This statement showed us as students that the University cares for us individually. With 7,000 undergraduate students on our campus, it’s easy to believe that the University is not concerned with us as an individual, and that we’re just a number.
However, the way Chancellor Helm and Provost Karim protected two of the University’s professors makes it clear that UMass Dartmouth is concerned each of our freedoms and wellbeing.
Another example of Helm’s great leadership was his new “flag policy” on campus. This policy allowed requests to be given to fly flags for a specific cause. He explained that a request was made from the Council on Diversity and Inclusion for a Black Lives Matter flag to be flown.
He explains the decision in his memo, saying, “It is a statement that emphasizes the extent to which racial prejudice and violence have disproportionately affected African Americans.”
Knowing that our chancellor is fully aware of this unfortunate truth in our society, and is attempting to contribute to the solution, shows us that Chancellor Helm is committed to inclusion.
One last example of this great leadership is the implementation of more than 62 single-occupancy restrooms to all-gender bathrooms. This again shows his commitment to inclusion, which is one of the great qualities in a leader and in a Chancellor.
Although I’m confident that Robert Johnson will be a great chancellor for UMass Dartmouth, we will miss Interim Chancellor Helm for all the great things for this University, and we appreciate everything all he has done for UMass Dartmouth. Thank you, Chancellor Helm.