Kumble Subbaswamy formally inaugurated as UMass chancellor

By Brian Bevilacqua

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Cade Belisle/Collegian

The work of Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy was praised with speeches highlighting his eagerness to learn from his faculty and students at the chancellor’s inauguration on Saturday.

During a ceremony at the Mullins Center, Subbaswamy’s colleagues expressed admiration with what they described as his willingness to adapt and change in order to address the many issues facing a large research university in a small town. The ceremony served as Subbaswamy’s official inauguration since assuming the role of chancellor last July.

Subbaswamy, who came to UMass last year, began his career at the University of Kentucky as a faculty member in the physics department in 1978 and later became provost of the school in 2006. ,

Subbaswamy was moved to tears as he stepped up to the lectern to thank the crowd, describing the journey of becoming a leader in education, and explained his motivations for adapting his life and career to education and helping young people.

“UMass has always been known as a progressive campus,” said the chancellor, who described the school’s forward thinking as a key component of its status as a leading research university and as something he has tried to embody during his tenure.

The chancellor explained his hopes for his future at UMass, which included an announcement of the largest fundraising campaign in the school’s history in an effort to continue the University’s progression through the difficult economic period currently affecting the field of higher education.

“The amount raised will be record setting, and the support displayed will be unprecedented. … We will be among the top 20 research campuses,” said Subbaswamy, who added that “our school’s destiny is one of greatness.”

Subbaswamy’s optimism toward the challenges that UMass may face in the future echoed the messages delivered by the introductory speakers at Saturday’s ceremony.

Former Student Government Association President Akshay Kapoor described the chancellor as “one of the most remarkable people I’ve met here and the kind of leader we all desire to have.” According to Kapoor, Subbaswamy “did not come off as a professor or administrator, but as friend.”

Kapoor went on to detail what he described as the eagerness toward learning and adaptation that Subbaswamy has displayed through this past year, and told the crowd about his first meeting with the chancellor in which Subbaswamy requested a list of problems affecting the student body. When Kapoor sent him a seven-page list of issues, he said the chancellor addressed every item.

UMass President Robert Caret said that the chancellor’s background served as an example of his dedication. Subbaswamy earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in India before coming to the United States with $8 and a loan, and eventually was able to secure an academic position.

Dean of Students Enku Gelaye praised Subbaswamy and said that progress at the University will continue under his leadership.

“In Amherst only the H is silent,” Gelaye said while describing the problems that are present between students and the school. She added that she “can tell you with confidence you have an incredibly engaged student body.”

Gelaye told the chancellor that “it will be an honor to continue this progress under your leadership.”

The ceremony was part of the 150th anniversary celebrations at the University.

Brian Belvilacqua can be reached at [email protected]