Gora Inaugurated-Unions Protest

Campus Unions Prepare Vote of No Confidence

Campus Unions Prepare Vote of No Confidence

Natalia Cooper

Although it was held inside the Clark Athletic Center due to inclement weather, the ceremony portion of Chancellor Jo Ann Gora’s inauguration went off with little problem. The chancellor is not so new to UMB, since she has been serving the university from the summer of 2001 on, but due to extenuating circumstances for our nation which occurred last fall, the ceremony was pushed forward to Fall 2002.

Protesters were circling outside holding a peaceful “informational picket” and one protester made it inside briefly before being escorted out. The person who made it inside to protest was reportedly carrying a sign that read, “I’d be in class right now if you’d fund my professor’s salary.”

In a last minute addition to her prepared speech Gora did speak a few words in support of the wage increases, and she was the only one. Other speakers referred in various ways to the difficult economic times our university and state have been faced with in the past year. Different facets of the university were represented by selected members of the UMass Boston community.

After a musical procession by the UMass Boston Brass Ensemble and a rendition of the National Anthem by the UMass Boston Chamber Singers, Reverend Ray Hammond, the pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, gave an invocation.

With the official start of the proceedings aside, UMass President William Bulger gave an extended recap of the Inaugural Week events, highlighting the participation of important alumni in the forums for the week. “All of these events, whether social or scholarly, highlight the strength, vitality and achievement of the entire institution, faculty, staff, students and alumni,” Bulger said.

Student trustee Heather Dawood, representing the undergraduate and graduate student body currently enrolled at UMB and alumnus Colin F. Ward, recent graduate and Fulbright scholar both remarked on diversity at UMB. Dawood spoke about Chancellor Gora’s efforts to increase on-campus community in her first year as chancellor, specifically citing her student luncheons as one way Gora extends communication to students. Dawood concluded, “We look forward to helping her [Gora] raise the campus to new heights of which we can all be proud.”

Ward’s humorous speech detailed his inability to represent UMB alumni fully due to the diversity inherent in the student population. “The thought of just one person representing the more than 69,000 UMass Boston alumni, made we wonder just what I could say to encapsulate the varied history, the varied story, and the varied background of all of us,” Ward said. The question of “Who is a typical UMass Boston alumnus?” led Ward to recite averages and percentages delineating the breakdown of UMB by gender, nationality, age, and other defining characteristics. “We as a group cannot be stereotyped as a homogenous student body. We are all races, all ages, and all professions.”

Carolyn Dunn represented UMB classified staff and brought up an important point that “access and excellence go hand in hand.” Dunn went on to say that she and other staff members recognize that times are tough and they also look forward to working with Chancellor Gora during her tenure as chancellor.

The professional staff person chosen to speak was Daniel Robb, assistant dean of the College of Management who stated that his part of the UMass Boston population is behind Gora all the way “as we build both literally and physically, the new UMass Boston.”

Celia Moore focused on the “time of change” UMB is going through in the face of faculty retirements. She used the analogy of seasonal renewal, detailing that UMB is now old enough as an institution to be experiencing its first institutional renewal in the form of faculty retirements and new blood. Moore, who also serves as chair of the Faculty Council did not mention faculty raises in her remarks.

Well-known UMB alumnus and Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino discussed the continued contributions of UMass Boston to the surrounding community. He also made a humorous reference thanking the university for his take-home statistics exam so many years ago. Menino seemed hopeful that Gora can and will continue to incite development and change at the university. “In the last year, I’ve seen how this chancellor has moved this university.” He made specific reference to the chancellor’s community involvement.

Delivering formal greetings from the Massachusetts State Senate, Senator Jack Hart described Gora’s energy and commitment to the community surrounding the harbor campus.

A blast from Gora’s past took the microphone next. Margaret Miller, a former colleague of Chancellor Gora and professor at the University of Virginia began by saying she wasn’t going to run through Gora’s list of credentials, which she discreetly worked into her speech. Miller said she instead was going to focus on the chancellor’s work on the provost’s advisory committee at the University of Virginia.

Miller also said Gora always spoke her mind and prevented the provost’s committee from making rash decisions, “and like a good rugby player she was always ready after the scrum to go out and have a beer with you.” Miller further praised Gora by saying “she [Gora] never wanted to win for winning’s sake, she always wanted to win for what she saw as the larger good.” Miller discussed Gora’s accomplishments at Old Dominion and said that Gora was bringing that same “can-do spirit” to her efforts at improving UMass Boston. “The complacent and the tired have, I’m sure, already been challenged by Chancellor Gora,” Miller stated. She went on to say she sees Gora as being poised to become a national leader and advocate for public urban institutions who could have no better champion.

A short musical interlude of fanfare composed by Professor of Music, David Patterson served as a nice segue into the ceremony of investiture by UMass President Bulger. Gora was fitted with her medallion of office which was described by Trustee Robert M. Mahoney.

Rather abruptly, Gora launched into her inaugural address, almost before the applause for the investiture had died down. The chancellor discussed most aspects of the university in her address, stating her oft-reiterated hope for greater community at UMB, which she believes will come when the new Campus Center opens in December 2003. “Construction is on schedule and on budget, not a statement lightly made in Boston,” Gora said. The campus center, Gora expects will be the core of on-campus activity outside of the classroom. She also discussed the dorms project, stating her willingness to work hard to respond to community concerns.

“We are engaged in a process now that I believe will address their [the surrounding community’s] issues and questions,” Gora said.

Gora spent a few minutes of her speech praising recent student achievements and reiterating the diversity of UMB’s students. She also discussed plans to increase merit scholarships awarded within the university and her intent to update the university’s technological resources.

Gora stated at one point, “… I am grateful for all the men and women who labor every day to ensure the best possible educational experience for our students.” She hesitated and then added, “Of course both President Bulger and I support the salary increases which we hope will be instituted soon,” to which the crowd responded with applause. That mention of support was off-the-cuff as it was not included in the transcript of Gora’s speech included in the press packet for the event.

Gora went on to praise the recent work of the university institutes, centers, and academic departments. She also discussed the recent faculty retirements saying that “Although we regret the loss of outstanding people who have contributed significantly to the growth of this University, I see this as a great opportunity for us to rebuild our faculty and to reposition the University for the concerns of the twenty-first century,” Gora continued, “Thoughtfully and over a period of three years, we will bring in new faculty whose interests are clearly aligned with current and emerging needs.”

“We are a microcosm of the world around us,” the chancellor said, and in closing she expressed deep thanks, saying “You have my gratitude for letting me be part of a university that is positioned to play such a crucial role.”

After the official ceremony was finished, the celebration and mingling took place in the Clark Athletic Center plaza where Sodexho laid out refreshments for the many guests. Before the event, Gora’s office sent out invitations to all alumni inviting them to attend. Some accepted and attended the event, one alumna said that the event was “very exciting.”