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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Rockin’ Convocation


Make sure that you wear your dancing shoes to school on Tuesday, September 24 because you’ll definitely need them. As part of this year’s convocation, which will officially install Jo Ann Gora as UMass Boston’s Chancellor, international reggae superstar Yellowman and Martha’s Vineyard-based, nationally recognized groove team Entrain will be performing for free, right here on campus. The show is scheduled to begin at 4:30PM, and will be held on the front soccer field.

Starting September 18, the university will be fully engaged in celebrating Jo Ann Gora’s official installation as chancellor, with events planned to draw students and faculty through the 9th of October. As part of the celebration, Boston Music Award winning world-beat specialists Entrain, and Grammy-award nominee Jamaican dancehall legend Yellowman, are scheduled to bring an all-star dance party atmosphere to UMass. Like all the events during convocation, this event is free of charge. Kathy Teehan, Vice-Chancellor for Enrollment Management, says that feedback about the concert plans has been great, adding, “We’re getting a lot of excited responses.”

“This is sort of a gift from the Chancellor to the students,” says Teehan, “She thought it was very important that this inauguration wasn’t just about her, but about the university and the community members, especially the students.” She adds, “One of the Chancellor’s goals this year is to really build community on campus. She wants students to be much more involved. She wants to make sure everyone is consulting with the students, learning what the students want, and trying to mount some special activities that the students will turn out for. This is the kick off event for that.”

In order to ensure that the event would truly be special, Chancellor Gora decided to gather information from the UMass Boston community. “She wanted to be certain that it was not only a big event, but that it was the right event.” Teehan says. In August, meetings between Teehan and students from the Advising Center, Athletics, the Enrollment Services offices, and WUMB Radio were held to discuss different possibilities for the celebration. “We wanted to know what they would enjoy participating in, and what they would participate it during the week of the inaugural activities. Music was an important one.”

Lists with many musicians were compiled during these meetings, and a great deal of research went into finding out about each one. A combination of their universal appeal and their availability were two main factors that lead to the selection of Yellowman and Entrain. Teehan notes, “People know [Entrain]-if they’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard, or to one of the clubs and venues in Boston.” Entrain’s fusion-styled rhythms match so well with Yellowman’s lively reggae, one wonders if the island connection makes them a perfect match. “We thought that reggae would be a good ‘crossover’ style,” Teehan laughs, “Even people my age like reggae!”

A concert like this is a strong step towards creating a more fulfilling campus life for students. One overwhelming challenge that accompanies trying to plan events on campus, however, is the fact that students do not get many opportunities to gather outside of classes and clubs. “We don’t do a lot of things on campus like this,” says Teehan, “Students are busy here-they’re running between classes, they’re running off to work.” This concert hopes to break down some of the stigmas that are associated with many urban schools, embodied in the oft-heard quote, “There is no social scene on campus.” Teehan suggests that this concert intends to change that. “It’s hard to find the event that will pull everybody together,” she says, “This seemed to be the right one.”

Teehan also says that this will be a move towards connecting students with each other and with faculty and staff at UMass Boston. The idea is to establish a rapport with students, and to use their input for future events. “We’d love to hear from students-if this is an activity that they enjoy, if its something that they’d like to see more of-so that we can plan some of these things with the Chancellor,” she says.

Teehan explains that ideas from students were also used to plan other events on campus: “Three of four things that people mentioned, we will be doing that week.” In addition to the concert, there will be a barbeque, as well as special events designed to highlight some of the schools “hidden jewels,” as Teehan puts it. Tours of the observatory, the greenhouse, the Athletics Department, the radio station and the Harbor are scheduled.

This concert will also be a way for UMass Boston to reach out to its surrounding communities. “In addition to building community on campus, the chancellor wants to demonstrate to our local community that there are things that happen here that they can take advantage of.” Teehan notes. “Special invitations are being sent to students at B.C. High, residents at Harbor Point, to the JFK Library and [State] Archives Staff,” and to other members of the local community.

The university welcomes participants to bring chairs or blankets to the event. Once the music gets underway, however, you can bet that you won’t need them!