New Administrators at UMB

Carl Brooks

Several new faces adorn the top of the administrative food chain at the UMass Boston campus as the University struggles with a fiscal crunch and the political demise of University President William Bulger, who steps down Sept. 1 in the wake of controversy. A new CIO, a new vice chancellor, new dean for the Graduate College of Education and a new dean for the College of Science and Mathematics arrived August 18 to a campus hurrying to complete an expensive new Campus Center as other infrastructure problems mount.

Martyne M. Hallgren, late of Jackson Laboratory, will be the school’s new Chief Information Officer, a position of considerable influence. She will oversee the entire information infrastructure at UMass Boston and inherits a mélange of systems, networks and software that are, as one student employee candidly put it, “a mess.” Many administrators and students have reported gripes with the campus’ newest human resources software, PeopleSoft, from a lack of proper training to being unable to search records or getting inconsistent statements from the system. It is far too early in Hallgren’s tenure to anticipate how she will address these issues. According to a complimentary memo from Chancellor Gora, Hallgren will be in charge of “implementing the IT strategic plan to develop a state-of-the-art information technology environment.”

Hallgren has an uncontroversial reputation in the IT world as an advocate for increasing computer and internet access in education and being unafraid of the gritty technical details.

A new vice chancellor of Student Affairs, J. Keith Motley, came to the campus July 28 to help manage the large and unwieldy collection of services UMB offers to its students. Dr. Motley comes to UMB from prestigious Northeastern University where he was Associate Director of the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute until becoming Northeastern’s dean of Student Services in 1993. Hopes are high that Dr. Motley will be able to repeat his success in improving freshman retention rates, which are abysmal at UMB. Dr. Motley is a long-time resident of the area and leaves Northeastern after a long association. He received his bachelor’s and master’s from Northeastern and his doctorate from BC. He is currently the chairman of the Newbury College Board of Trustees.

The new Dean of the Graduate College of Education is Lester F. Goodchild, formerly dean of the College of Education at the University of Denver. Dr. Goodchild is a respected scholar and hopefully an able administrator; his responsibilities include 41 faculty members, more than six hundred students and a collection of urban outreach centers, including the Adult Literacy center and the Institute for Community Inclusion, which works to facilitate the employment and integration of disabled people into everyday jobs and living situations.

Goodchild also takes over the college’s aggressive “urban mission” program, including a $40,000 program to recruit minority teacher candidates and concerted efforts by the college to hire minority staff and faculty. The Graduate College of Education handles teacher certification classes, master’s education for teachers, special degrees in professional psychology, from school counseling to forensic psychology and the field’s two PhD opportunities. It also funds and directs through its institutes a number of hands-on programs with city schools. Dr. Goodchild seems pleased with his new position, saying, “Part of the excitement about this opportunity is to work in schools. I’ve had a chance to work with three of our own university schools and a charter school in Denver. My experience here can be useful in Boston.” Dr. Goodchild has a wide range of academic interests including a master’s in historical theology and is widely published on issues ranging from public policy to the history of African-Americans in higher education. He received his doctorate from the University of Chicago.

The next bigwig to climb onboard the UMB bandwagon is the new Dean of College of Science and Mathematics Kenneth Sebens. Dr. Sebens, a zoologist for the University of Maryland, was tapped for his experience with marine biology and ecological savvy as well as his research acumen. His appointment may help breathe life into the fledgling Environmental Studies program and will almost certainly be a boost for UMB’s very successful Earth and Geographical Studies department. Aside from Dr. Sebens’ experience as a researcher and educator, he is very successful at getting grants and well-known in the research community, which should prove helpful in these cash-strapped times.

Sebens has published extensively and in 1982 won the George Mercer Award for a paper in the journal Ecology. His teaching career is a long one and included a stint at Harvard University after he received his doctorate from the University of Washington.

With the university in a state of fiscal disarray and apparently leaderless, and UMass Boston facing hard choices and severe infrastructure problems (anyone seen the parking garage recently?), these new administrators have a tough row to hoe and any choices they make will be watched with interest.