Motley discusses what’s in store

Ben Whelan

Over the last few weeks, the Mass Media has been checking in with some of the leaders and top officials on campus to review the last semester and see what’s in store in the semester to come. After talking to Undergraduate Student Senate President Juana Matias and Graduate Student Association President David Nieto, the Mass Media is completing the series this week by sitting down and talking to Chancellor J. Keith Motley.

Mass Media: What was your proudest accomplishment, achievement or goal that you met in your first semester in office?Chancellor Motley: First of all, I’m very happy to be back here on campus; Being among the students, among faculty, those who I have known and have had relationships with for the last five years and making new relationships have meant a lot to me. I’m also so proud of the Motley Scholarship Fund that is designed to help students and it’s one that I think will be very helpful. Also the adoption of the strategic plan, coming back and making that happen, moving the Master Plan through. To secure consensus and support for it was really special. I think the proudest achievement that I had last semester would be this conceptual framework that we’ve been able to establish around the University, the student-centered, urban public university of the new century. This is what I’ve sought, this is what we seek to achieve, and everything I do is going to be linked to that.

MM: Looking back, what do you think you could have done better or would change if you could go back and do it all again?CM: Well, hindsight is always 20/20, you know. There are a number of things that Im not really certain I’d do differently, but given some of the time constraints I might have gone ahead with an earlier meeting with new faculty. I might have looked at a larger group rather than a small group or vica-versa. Its hard to schedule convenient times to meet so I would have left more open times for scheduling. I might have visited more academic departments. I like to walk around, so I might have allowed more time for that and I might have forced some of my colleagues to allow me do that instead of meeting in the office as much as I did and maybe fewer off campus engagements, but that’s all hindsight. I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish and most of what presidents and chancellors have problems with is time, because you only have so much of it and you can’t be everywhere.

MM: If there was one thing that you could get done before you leave office, what would it be? CM: I plan to work hard to make sure that we continue to bring that kind of energy to the campus that we can. First of all completing the implementation of the framework for the strategic plan is very important. Establishing the inter-disciplinary research clusters that we’ve been talking about and I want to make sure that they are done in the areas of urban health and public policy and developmental sciences and computational sciences, math and science education and inter and trans-cultural studies. Those are the areas I want to make sure are happening. To help the president [of UMass, Jack Wilson] and the governor push through our life sciences initiative for this campus and for the university but also to make sure that everyone is wise enough to know that the bond bill, the $125 million, will be so helpful to us as we start to build our master plan and also to make sure that the students are brought to this campus in a special way and that they commence, and that their commencements are special occasions as well. I would also want to make sure that when we start thinking about this idea of the culture of the campus I want the culture to reflect the idea that we talked about at both convocation and inauguration of the idea of a student-centered urban public university of the new century. I’m so grateful to be able to lead this part of the journey.