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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Motley speaks about ‘University of the new century’

Chancellor Keith Motley dishes out a welcome message to UMass students at the 2007 convocation cookout.

UMass Boston’s new Chancellor, Keith Motley, delivered his convocation speech Sept. 10, where he outlined his vision for the campus. The speech, titled “Toward the Student-Centered, Urban Public University of the New Century,” focused on the importance of putting students first in the teaching, research and public service that the school is known for.

Before Motley gave his speech, UMass system President Jack Wilson addressed the crowd.

“This is our time for renewal in higher education every September when we get together again,” Wilson said. “Today is a special day, because today’s convocation is a special one for this campus and the university system as a whole. […] Today, we also celebrate the meaning and importance of the University of Massachusetts Boston as we open our convocation events. We’re tremendously pleased to begin the academic year on such a high note; a celebration of the University of Massachusetts Boston and its incoming Chancellor, J. Keith Motley.”

Wilson then went on to address Motley as a person, listing a few of his achievements in education.

“He’s a man who deeply understands the importance of education at all levels,” Wilson said. “A founder of the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, a local proponent of college-school partnerships and pre-collegiate partnerships such as Upward Bound. He is a man who believes in nurturing talent and investing in promise. He is a man who understands the mission, purpose and power of higher education.”

Motley opened his address with a round of thank you’s, from Wilson to his wife and two daughters, who he said “humbled” him on the morning of which he was “the man.”

From there, Motley described the vision that UMass Boston had at its creation, during what he said to be the “first of many convocation addresses as chancellor of this wonderful university.”

“Students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds were not […] to be denied equality and opportunities that higher education can offer,” he said. “This commitment to quality and equality has meant many things. For one thing, this urban, public university is clearly in the spirit of the great tradition of land grant colleges. A spirit that is very much alive here today.”

Motley also reflected on the time he spent as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs in 2003, a year before Wilson made him interim Chancellor for UMass Boston. He alluded to it being a building block of how he has held personal dealings since his return.

“My personal experience when I was Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs then persuaded me that students, faculty and other members of the campus community sell themselves as building a great university,” Motley said. “Since my return as chancellor in July of this year, my meetings with students, faculty, administrators and staff have reinforced that knowledge. I am committed to honoring the vision of the founders of this university and to keep things up with the high expectations of its students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

Also in keeping with the expectations and vision of the founders and those with ties to UMass Boston, he made sure to point out exactly what the words that have come to define the campus mean to him.

“Let me note that the words ‘urban’ and ‘public’ truly have a distinguished and special meaning,” Motley said. “Public is associated with access, affordability and quality, but public also speaks to responsibilities of citizenship, including helping to shape societies of the future. Urban suggests at the multiplication of that promise and challenges that society faces. It points to the side of innovation, creativity and, optimally, openness of spirit from which the challenges can be properly met.”

Throughout his speech, Motley discussed infrastructure, the Strategic Planning Task Force, UMass Boston’s accomplishments over the past year and more. However, his central message was laced throughout his speech, making sure to connect everything to one idea.

“What is this student-centered urban, public university?” Motley asked the crowd. “It is one that sees itself as the center of creativity and innovation, and accepts that students who represent youth in spirit, not just age, can be the very embodiment of novelty and creativity. Their passion, their impulses, their instincts can all work together towards that end. Faculty members, of course, are centers in creativity just as they are the centers for the conservation of our intellectual path and aspiration of new frontiers. The student-centered university begins where students are.”

The text of the speech in its entirety can be found on the UMass Boston Web Site, umb.edu.

In his convocation speech, Chancellor Keith Motley outlined a few of the things that have progressed at UMass Boston.? Expect to enroll 1,075 new freshmen? 40 percent of those students are of color? Increased financial aid for students by 23 percent, which totals $4.8 million? Research funds reached almost $42 million? Raised nearly $12 million in fiscal year 2007, which was 3 percent over goal and 21 percent more than what was raised in 2006

“This is a tribute to people’s belief in our university and our mission,” he said.