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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Ask Bobby #12
September 25, 2023

UMass Boston strategic plan sparks community conversation


Campus Center comes alive as distinguished leaders and students engage in an enlightening conversation by the fire at the Annual Fireside Chat event held on Feb 23. Photo by Saichand Chowdary (He/Him) / Mass Media Contributor.  

On Thursday, Feb. 24, the Office of Community Partnerships hosted a sixth Annual Fireside Chat, bringing together community leaders, faculty and students to unveil UMass Boston’s 10-year Strategic Plan. This year’s fireside chat theme was “New Plan, New Opportunity for Action: Community Reflections on UMass Boston’s New Strategic Plan.” Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco and Provost Joseph Berger graced the event with their presence alongside several other esteemed guests and speakers from the Boston Area.
Cynthia K. Orellana, the Director of the Office of Community Partnerships at UMass Boston, commenced the event at 9:30 a.m. with her opening remarks, welcoming the guests and briefing the audience about the schedule for the event. Orellana and her team were a driving force behind the execution of Thursday’s fireside conversation. The Office of Alumni Engagement, The Mass Media, Quinn Graphics, and Student Leadership and Community Engagement co-sponsored the event at UMass Boston.
Followed by Orellana’s opening remarks, Provost Berger briefly presented the new Strategic Plan, which includes strategic priorities and commitments of UMass Boston. Berger highlighted five strategic priorities: Holistic Student Success, Impactful research and Scholarship, For the City, Enriching Our Human Core and Reimagining Campus Space. Some Commitments include Teaching, Research and Service Mission, UMass Boston committing toward Antiracist and Health-promoting Culture, Community Collaboration and Operational Excellence.
To represent and reflect all these priorities and commitments, The Mass Media, in partnership with OCP, ideated a video to hear students’ input and opinions on how they envision UMass Boston. Apart from undergraduate students, UMass Boston alumni and graduate students also participated in presenting their ideas on how the university can achieve and operationalize these goals. The video reflected multiple perspectives through the lens of present students and alums who have been around UMass Boston for years. The video can be found on UMass Boston’s Youtube channel for readers.
Chancellor Suárez-Orozco made a notable remark at the event. Suárez-Orozco talked about the important partnerships UMass Boston has fostered with the Boston community, including UMass Boston and Boston Public Schools’ Early College Program, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch’s donation of $3 million in Funding Nursing Lab for the Manning College of Nursing and Health Sciences, UMass Boston’s newest partnership with MathWorks and many more. Suárez-Orozco also emphasized the university’s role in Greater Boston Area and the Commonwealth. He commented, “If we didn’t have UMass Boston, we would have to invent it. This is how existential we are.”
The highlight of the Fireside chat was that it brought together faculty, alums and local community leaders. The esteemed list of guests included Pam Eddinger, president of Bunker Hill Community College; Celina Miranda, executive director of Hyde Square Task Force; Dr. Michael Curry, Esq. who is serving as president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers; and Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, chief of environment, energy and open space. All the speakers shared a common feeling and vision of building and strengthening community partnerships and how we can create meaningful opportunities for students, faculty and staff who work and serve at these institutions. One of the outstanding points mentioned by Eddinger was that institutions must hold tight to the values they represent and should further their goals centered around these values.
A few UMass Boston faculty were also part of the panel and added valuable points to the discussion of community partnerships and how we can operationalize our strategic goals. Elizabeth L. Sweet from the Department of Urban Planning and Community Development, Aminah Pilgrim from Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Pacey Foster, an associate professor of Management were part of the panel. When asked about the long-term goal for the UMass Boston community, Pacey commented, “let’s implement the vision we got. Keep listening to students and the alums.” All three of them emphasized the importance of incentivizing faculty research and teaching. Their thoughts through the lens of professionals were an insightful addition to the conversation.
The event concluded at noon with Orellana’s closing remarks. She thanked everyone for their presence and passion for engaging in a meaningful conversation. She acknowledged support from the Office of Alumni Engagement, Mass Media and all other partners who made the event possible.

About the Contributor
Kaushar Barejiya, News Editor