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

Incoming Chancellor Javier Reyes holds press conference for local media

“The way to learn from each other is to spend time with each other”
Ella Adams/Daily Collegian

On Monday, April 3, Incoming Chancellor Javier Reyes and University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan held a press conference with local media at the Cape Cod Lounge in the UMass Student Union. Reyes and Meehan discussed academic rankings, student engagement, enrollment, union contracts and housing.

“The trajectory of this institution watching from afar clearly is a trajectory that is unmatched,” Reyes said about the growth of UMass’ ranking among other universities. He acknowledged that transitioning leadership can sometimes be an “inflection point” for a university, but hopes to keep UMass on its upward trajectory.

“If you manage towards the rankings, that’s when they become a problem,” Reyes continued, emphasizing that he is more concerned with his policies and management than the University’s comparative standing. He believes that the University’s ranking should be an outcome of management and should have little impact on policy.

As the first permanent chancellor within the UMass system who is Hispanic, Meehan described Reyes’ move into the chancellor role as “historic,” emphasizing his confidence that Reyes is both the best candidate for the job and someone who truly believes in public higher education.

Reyes continued the narrative from his open forums earlier this year of cultivating student engagement through a holistic approach. Explaining multiple times that students are what “energizes” him, Reyes described himself as an inclusive “servant leader,” adding that the University of Massachusetts stood out to him to lead because of its “incredible upwards trajectory.”

“The way to learn from each other is to spend time with each other,” Reyes said in response to a question about his plans to combat hate on campus and improve inclusivity and diversity. He plans to “have programming throughout the year, not just when something bad happens,” for student groups who are traditionally marginalized on campuses. According to Reyes, if the University only supports a minority group after a traumatic event, then “this one event [defines] our identity.”

“There will be bad actors, but it doesn’t have to be that one individual that defines our identity,” Reyes added.

Meehan agreed with Reyes, referencing disinformation, hate against marginalized groups and attacks on education as reasons to be concerned about the trajectory of the country. “I believe universities are the answer,” he concluded.

“The most important thing is to make sure we continue to be accessible,” Reyes said when asked about increasing enrollment at UMass. “If students want to come here, we want to make sure that [doors are] open to them.”

Reyes referenced a certain “respect” that UMass has to in-state students; while both he and Meehan referenced the importance of attracting out-of-state and international students, they agreed that they have a responsibility to provide accessible education to the Commonwealth.

Both Reyes and Meehan fielded questions about the current union negotiations, Reyes mentioning that they are “a top priority for Subbaswamy to work on.” Meehan added that the administration is “making sure that we keep the best interest of the employees and retirement plans at hand” when it comes to dealing with union contracts.

When asked questions about how he would handle the large population of both undergraduate and graduate students having issues with UMass housing, Reyes explained that he needed to understand the problem more cohesively before making decisions. He referenced the new apartment complex on Massachusetts Avenue as a way that he thinks the University is already addressing that issue.

Reyes was joined by his wife, Maritza, throughout the press conference. He added that the two of them are excited to be moving to Massachusetts and will be leading as a cohesive unit during his time as chancellor. 

Ella Adams can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ella_adams15. Lucas Ruud can be reached at [email protected].

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