Got Voice?

Nathan Aldrich

Wondering how you can get your ideas across to the administration? Look no further! A document released by Chancellor Gora and Provost Fonteyn last month introduced the University Planning Council and the creation of a Strategic Planning website now located on the UMass Boston website. The Strategic Planning website will house a discussion forum where students and faculty are encouraged to engage in a dialogue with the administration about the University’s future plans.

In an effort to clarify institutional priorities, the UMB administration has just completed a review of the University’s 1995-2000 strategic plan. “The review documents our accomplishments as well as the areas where less progress was made,” it was stated in the document announcing the new strategic planning website.

Issues the University Planning Council will discuss include some of the same things Chancellor Gora mentioned in her inaugural address: “stability in size, improved student retention, enhanced ‘customer’ service, building community on campus, expanding learning opportunities outside the classroom and increasing our impact in and on the region.”

Associate Provost Peter Langer said, “It’s important to look back at what wasn’t accomplished and ask why.” The 1995-2000 strategic plan and the review documents can be found on the UMass Boston website along with the University’s future plans currently being developed.

Langer is responsible for monitoring and moderating the strategic planning online discussion forum. His first topic of discussion was about UMass’s freshmen retention. “Only 69% of the full-time freshmen who started at UMass Boston in Fall 2000 were enrolled in Fall 2001. This rate is below that of most of our peer institutions,” Langer said. He went on to say that the University is developing a plan based on data about our campus culled by previous research projects. However, he also asks for students and faculty to contribute their ideas to the discussion forum about how to improve freshmen retention.

Being a commuter school does not mean UMass Boston should expect to have a lower freshmen retention rate. Langer says that the “school still has an obligation to meet the students’ needs.” The new campus center is expected to provide a badly-needed central location where socializing and campus community building can happen more naturally. Joyce Morgan, Director of Student Life, said about the campus center, “having a central place to take care of business and to meet other people will enhance the social opportunities on campus.” The 331,000 square-foot, $75 million campus center, to be completed sometime around December 2003, “promises to transform the look and feel of UMass Boston,” according to the UMB web site. A visual virtual tour and live picture of the center can be viewed at all times in the “about UMB” section of the UMB website.

Meanwhile, as the strategic planning process progresses “your ideas and comments are of critical importance to the success of the Council and the planning process,” Langer said.

You can mail your thoughts and ideas to Associate Provost Peter Langer, Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, at [email protected]. You can also contact him by telephone at 617-287-5600.