Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Prospective chancellor Subbaswamy visits campus today

Also see: Finalists in Chancellor search visit UMass this week |Chancellor candidate Carlos Santiago visits UMass | Chancellor Candidate Susan Phillips talks with student reps

Maria Uminski/Collegian

Dr. Kumble Subbaswamy, the provost of University of Kentucky for the past six years and one of four final candidates for the position of chancellor at the University of Massachusetts, wants leaders to stand by two propositions when attempting to reverse the trends in declining funds in higher education.

The first proposition, he quoted Thomas Jefferson, “let us in education dream of an aristocracy of achievement arising out of a democracy of opportunity.” He said he has seen this part of the proposition in jeopardy due to increasing cost of tuition and fees and diminishing state funding.

In his second proposition Subbaswamy encouraged leaders to view research universities as an essential asset in social, cultural and economic capital.

Subbaswamy highlighted the importance of what he saw as collaborative efforts between colleges and sectors within state universities, as well as public and private partnerships.

“None of us is smarter than all of us,” he said.

He also suggested collaboration with the other UMass schools, particularly UMass Boston, which he said is in an influential part of the state.

He also said that people should not lose sight of high aspirations of excellence for UMass. To achieve the high aspirations, Subbaswamy said taking risks is a must.

Some of the risks Subbaswamy spoke about were discussing the politics and standards of UMass becoming a part of the Association of American Universities, a prestigious consortium of the 61 leading research universities in the United States.

He said engaging in discussions to be in AAU membership is the right aspiration and that he thinks UMass “is already there,” but that there are politics and other factors that go into membership, which UMass should be questioning.

“In order to put ourselves in the position where we are in fact seen routinely and commonly as a very influential research university, not all the metrics that currently exist on the website of AAU make sense, I think we have to be very careful moving forward in terms of what metrics make sense in how we measure ourselves in terms of the influence we will have,” he said.

He gave the example of measuring the AAU universities by number of Ph.D.s granted across disciplines as a principle that “doesn’t make sense.”

One faculty member present at the meeting brought up how he thought previous chancellors have continuously added on to what he called a bloated administration with more vice chancellors and vice provosts.

“I would never dismiss any of those kinds of criticism because in a transparent world we need to really examine everything,” he said, “Let’s take a look at everything that’s costing money.”

But, Subbaswamy said, there is sometimes valid reason for those types of title changes within the administration and gave an example of a faculty member interested in establishing the global health program and that having the title of provost opened doors to Vice Chancellor’s office.

“There is a difference between title inflation and administrative bloating,” said Subbaswamy.

Debora Ferreira, Executive Director for Equal Opportunity and Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer for the University, asked the prospective chancellor about his work in equity and diversity in higher education.

Subbaswamy answered that at the University of Kentucky he experienced tension involving a considerable drop in African-American students, where he worked closely with the community taking action to sustain results in retention. He said currently, the diversity level is the highest it’s ever been and that full time African-American faculty went from 60 to 90.

When asked about his work in fundraising and lobbying legislators for funding, Subbaswamy spoke about his experience working on the state level with the Chamber of Commerce and legislators for education. He also said he raised $120 million during frontline fundraising at his post during his six years as Dean.

Jared Rose, a member of the UMass Student Government Association, asked the candidate for chancellor to speak on what he thought was the proper role for students to be involved in University governance.

Subbaswamy suggested a change in the reactive nature of students to issues. He said it’s important for students to be a part of the governance, but communication between administration and students needs to improve.

He also stressed the vitality of being transparent to students and faculty at a university, “the more information you give, the more you hold yourself accountable and the more support you will get.”

Subbaswamy viewed the role of a flagship public research industry as more than just a means for student employment, but for education for enlightenment and citizenship.

Subbaswamy has also worked as the Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences and the chair of the Physics and Astronomy department at the University of Kentucky. He worked at both University of Miami and Indiana University at Bloomington as the dean of Arts and Sciences.

Nancy Pierce can be reached at [email protected].


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