Umass community hears chancellor on goals, meeting students’ needs dorchester reporter top universities mechanical engineering

With the back of the lipke auditorium filled with people holding signs protesting the campus’ recent parking fee hikes, interim chancellor katherine newman and campus leaders laid out the school’s financial goals and plans for addressing student needs.

The boost in enrollment for the 2018 first year class, is “just the beginning of an arc of excellence for this campus,” newman said in setting out ten campus goals, some from the president’s office and some reflecting goals from newman and the faculty. They include upping the student retention rate by 3 to 5 percent; increasing donor visits, principal gifts, and endowments to attract about $15 million; and boosting online revenue by 5 to 10 percent.

For fiscal year 2018, “we finished the year better than we originally had hoped,” kirleis said. The campus was expecting a $5 million deficit needed to close the gap between revenues and expenses.

But adjustments like personnel reductions provided $7.8 in savings over the year, and they ultimately finished with a $2.38 million surplus, she said.

“we have had to undertake a lot of really difficult activities over the last year to get the budget structurally aligned,” she said, including reducing the university workforce. Top universities for physics the last time umass boston had a positive operating margin was 2014.

The other sister universities in the system are being held to about a two percent surplus margin, newman said. “when I originally got my letter from the system office, it also said a two percent margin,” she added, “and I went back to the president and said that would be utterly impossible on this campus that would require such an enormous degree of sacrifice that I just don’t think it’s feasible at all. And he was very sympathetic to that and reduced it to a zero percent margin. Best universities in the uk this will not be easy to accomplish, but I think it’s doable and I do think, well, we have to honor it.”

Looking into 2020, the university is once again starting from behind, kirleis said, with a $7.7 million projected deficit running in large part from depreciation and debt. “before we get all worried about this, this is just the very start,” she said. “everything will move on forward in a positive way from here.”

Other goal discussions ran the gamut from searching for a new leader in university relations to promoting positive news from the campus to promoting diversity in the staff with a designated amount of money for that purpose to creating an “accountability culture” around budgeting and campus priorities.

Newman said she understands the value of the 20-acre asset, and expects to have more to say about the matter in about a month. The building authority is reviewing bids and has not publicly shared the narrowing field of potential developers, despite requests from the reporter to disclose the finalists and their proposals.

As a new chancellor, newman spent the summer “trying to articulate what I think the campus’s values are with regard to bayside. So just very briefly, this involves, I hope, attracting industries of the future who will partner with our faculty to invest in your research, open up opportunities for our students as interns, as apprentices, and future job holders in those companies to provide for anchor industries and startups in that neighborhood and to develop a walk-to-work neighborhood – probably for our post docs, graduate students, and maybe some of our more advanced undergraduates. But that’s going to be the last waterfront neighborhood in boston redevelopment. That is an extraordinarily valuable piece of land and that funding will come to the university and will help us in turn, but it takes time for it to come across and it’s a long, complicated process.”

The legacy debt from their long crumbling garage and other “original sin” issues should not be the campus’s to bear alone, newman said. Best universities law she said she wants “the legislature to recognize the responsibility, and the state itself to take care of that debt.” she added, “honestly, if we have use all proceeds for bayside on that, it will be a tragedy for this campus because it would mean that the seed-corn of the future, of the resources we need to build the nursing school, to make sure that we have invested in our laboratories, in our faculty salaries and so on would all go to something that nobody in this room, and, frankly, nobody in that state house who’s alive now is responsible for.”

Academic advisor edward henry is responsible for signing withdrawal forms whenever students choose to leave umass boston. The reasons are usually tuition funding, costs of living, and low pay, he said. “there’s also the lack of coverage for the MBTA, with amherst in competition and other universities. UMass lowell just offered faculty, staff, and students free commuter rail passes from north station, which puts them into competition with us.”

“I agree with my green colleagues that it would be much better for us to incentivize the transit and if the bayside negotiations go the way I hope they will, hopefully the state will invest in improving the JFK stop,” she said. “because as I can tell you, I go there every day and the steps are falling apart. So, I think modernizing and improving and making it less expensive to run the T would be by far my first choice.”

She has met the garrison-trotter neighborhood group and visited the grove hall alliance of schools with city council president andrea campbell. “I’m absolutely convinced,” she said, “that the purpose of a public university – maybe the purpose of others as well –is to engage with the public institutions around us to make sure we do everything we can to advance your research and advance our reputation in engagement with community.”

“we are running community forums around bayside,” newman said. “we have all the neighborhood associations coming here on oct. 25 in order for us to have an opportunity to speak directly to them. I’m getting out to the community organizations myself in an opportunity to get to know them.”