It Is Possible, UMassD Chancellor Robert Johnson

“It Is Possible” | Dr. Robert E. Johnson, Chancellor, Umass Dartmouth, 2017

As the new Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Irobert-johnson-vertical-portrait-web-res-334x500-3 am honored and humbled by the opportunity to lead this great institution and serve this community. As we get to know each other, you will discover that I believe no matter what challenges confront us, we can create our own opportunities and be victorious. My simple message to you today is this: It is possible.

As members of our incoming Class of 2021 have shared their hopes, dreams, and beliefs as part of our This We Believe initiative, I wish to share with you who I am as we begin this journey together. I believe strongly in possibility thinking, in succeeding against the odds, and competing above my weight class and winning. Continue reading

I Believe in Trust, Lieutenant John Souza, UMassD Police

“I believe in trust” | Lt. John Souza, UMassD police department, 2016

…the biggest problem we face in the police profession today is TRUST.

We can’t ignore the recent fallout and violence that has occurred all over the United States. It can no longer be business as usual and there should be a sense of urgency about this.

There is a very real perception in black communities that the police are making decisions based on bias, and as a result, these communities are angry with the police and don’t trust us.  Combine these perceptions with the terrible actions of some officers that we’ve seen on the news who have not only damaged the police image, but destroyed lives too.  There’s much work to be done, and the police should be willing to engage, listen, and understand, and not only after a controversial incident. Police should be transparent with community leaders and willing to share their organizational commitment to training specific to racial profiling, and with aspects of use of force issues. Continue reading

Campus Activism, Cynthia Cummings, Student Affairs

“I Believe in Campus Activism” | Cynthia Cummings, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, 2016

I saw my father cry for the first time when I was 17. It was May 4th 1970. IStudent Affairs - Staff - Cynthia Cummingswas just about to graduate from high school. I would enter college in September. What happened that day was unimaginable. Twenty-eight members of the Ohio National Guard fired 61 bullets into a crowd of Vietnam War protesters, killing four unarmed college students and injuring nine others on the campus of Kent State University. The nation was stunned. My father was devastated.

My family was well acquainted with protest and activism. We witnessed the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. We saw dogs and fire hoses turned on black people who marched for basic rights such as access to public facilities and voting rights. My father, a Lincoln Republican, worked for fair housing and educational equity in Indianapolis. He negotiated a truce between the city and its black citizens that prevented the kind of riots that had erupted in Watts, Philadelphia, and Newark. My mother, an accomplished fundraiser, organized events that supported charities that served the black community. My little sister marched against hunger and, with our parents’ blessing, refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school to protest our country’s involvement in the war. We lived with the frustration, anger, and sadness that come with being members of an oppressed group. But we believed that we could make great changes in our society if we worked hard enough and long enough. We believed in the American system and held on to hope that the dream of “liberty and justice for all” would come true someday. Continue reading

Opportunity Costs, Professor Sarah Cosgrove

“I Believe in Opportunity Costs” | Sarah Cosgrove, Associate Professor of Economics and College of Arts and Sciences Assessment Coordinator, 2016

Economists define opportunity cost as the cost of something in terms of the next best alternative. Another way of stating the definition is the opportunity cost is what you must give up to get something else. I believe that every choice we make has an opportunity cost and that people make better choices when they explicitly consider the opportunity costs of their decisions.

When I finished my undergraduate degree, I chose to pursue a graduate degree rather than getting a job like most of my friends. As a graduate student, I lived on a tiny stipend, took out a small loan for living expenses not covered by my stipend, and I spent my days and nights learning, studying, thinking, writing, and running a lot to process all that was going on in my brain. At the same time, my friends were working and earning money, going to happy hours with co-workers, meeting spouses, getting married, and having babies. It would seem to an outsider that I was giving up a lot to pursue my goal of a Ph.D. in economics, but I made a conscious choice to temporarily give those things up because their value was lower than the value of what I was getting. That choice paid off, as I now have the career that I desired and the family that I hoped for. But I did have to choose. I could not have successfully completed my Ph.D. while also working a full time job and enjoying all of the social events that my friends enjoyed. By thinking about my options and weighing the relative costs and benefits, I felt good about my choice rather than dwelling on the things I was forgoing. Continue reading

The Value of Liberal Arts, Jen Riley, College of Arts and Sciences

“I Believe in the Value of the Liberal Arts” | Jeanette Riley, Former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 2016

I am often asked the question, “what can you do with a degree in the liberal arts”? The simple answer is “anything!” But in a time when the liberal arts are under attack in the press and by politicians, the simple answer needs often isn’t enough. So, here’s a fuller answer. With a liberal arts education, you can pursue jobs across the spectrum of our economy – in businesses as sales, marketing, communications and human resources people; in non-profit organizations; in the publishing and media world; in public administrating; in technology firms; starting your own business; and, even more. Liberal arts graduates bring core skills to the work place – critical thinking; problem solving; teamwork; communication skills; creativity; flexibility. Graduates with a foundation in the liberal arts are self-motived and articulate individuals who bring a range of perspectives to the workplace, which fosters creativity and original thinking. At the same time, studying the liberal arts opens people’s minds and helps them think outside of their own experiences, which create tolerance for diversity and guides ethical decision making. Continue reading