With Subbaswamy at the helm, the flagship is going places

A student’s take on our five-year plan


Photo from Collegian Archives

By Brendan Lally, Collegian Columnist

For any community, strong leadership is imperative for long-lasting success. Without it, we’d run the risk of becoming too complacent and too ordinary. Thankfully, our administration at the University of Massachusetts has ambitious goals in the form of a five-year plan titled “Be Revolutionary: A Vision for the Future.” With Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy at the helm, the flagship campus is going places.

Last week, the chancellor sent an email to every student describing and linking to this five-year plan in order to keep us in the loop on the administration’s goals. I imagine most students didn’t crack it open, and you didn’t miss much. It wasn’t exactly a page-turner, though it would be huge for the UMass brand if these goals could be met. They should have made a cool promotional video or something, just a nice quick four-minute video to cut to the chase. Regardless, the plan focused on three main goals, which many smaller actions must support.

For the first goal, UMass seeks to attract and retain outstanding students of all backgrounds. Through dynamic enrollment and a specific financial aid strategy, the flagship wants to find the best students out of every corner of the globe. No matter the socioeconomic situation, the most deserving students must be enrolled. This is something that is already starting to take place, so if this trend were to continue, I think we’d see even more good things coming out of it. As far as the “dynamic enrollment and financial aid strategy” go, I have faith in the administration’s ability to improve upon the current system and make enrollment at UMass more attractive.

It will be great to see the student body continue to rise, though the plan also braced for an imminent decline in birth rate. The plan’s introduction mentions that “beginning in just three years the number of high school students will begin a long decline, and shortly after that the impact will reach colleges and universities.” The University intends to make sure their student population continues to increase, while the pool of candidates starts to shrink. The proactiveness of the administration is commendable. The declining amount of high school students in the Northeast is a factor that could understandably fly under the radar, so it’s comforting knowing the individuals in charge are thinking with a forward-looking mindset.

The chancellor’s second goal also calls for large steps forward: the University seeks to expand research and scholarly impact, to “identify and support research areas at highest potential impact and quality.” As I see it, this basically means we have to beef up all things STEM. Science, technology, engineering and math are pretty much the favorite children of the UMass family. These are undeniably trending industries in America today, so why not try to be a top contender in that sphere of influence? The second goal is supported by UMass’ new acquisition of real estate in the greater Boston area. The University wants to collaborate with Boston companies in order to step up their research. Since it’s no secret the supply of technology companies near Amherst is scarce, it took great awareness from our leadership to get a foot in the door in Boston. It’ll be entertaining to see the UMass brand grow in the coming years, and this type of cold hard knowledge-seeking is exactly the play our school needs to make.

Lastly, the third goal is similar to the first. I bet students could guess this one: UMass wants to “build a more diverse and inclusive community.” This is great. Diversity is a positive thing. Can we just all just live in natural, respectful harmony and not get the word “diversity” shoved down our throats everytime we leave our buildings, though? Maybe one day. It’s so cool having people from all over the map, congregated in one common place, but talk about beating a dead horse. It’s nearly impossible to get from A to B without seeing a poster on how we need to be more inclusive. Of course, while the message is undeniably very important, I don’t think repetitive posters are going to do the trick. It will be cool to see how the student body evolves over the next decade and after, so let’s all respect each other like normal humans. We don’t need to constantly hear it repeated. We can walk the walk.

In the years to come, I’m confident our school will rise through the ranks and maintain its elite status. It’s very exciting to see that type of ambition spanning from the students all the way up to our chancellor, and it’ll only help all of us if this place keeps trending upward. Whatever is good for the UMass brand is good for future alumni. Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and his administration are putting UMass on the map, along with the success from the hockey team. When you take a step back, it’s no secret UMass is already elite. No matter how you cut it, this place is getting more desirable every single day. As long as we’re aware of that, we’ll keep holding it down here in the 413.

 Brendan Lally is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]