UMass president optimistic about fall semester at Dartmouth campus

Jul 15, 2021

UMass Dartmouth could see a new, full-time chancellor named as the campus prepares for a full return come the fall semester, according to UMass President Marty Meehan.

Meehan noted that a search committee will be interviewing candidates this week and is looking for a candidate that can “hit the ground running.”

“I think it’s really important because of the transition, and the fact there has been a lack of stability at leadership at UMass Dartmouth, that we need to find somebody we know that can do the job,” Meehan said.

Dr. Mark Fuller has served as interim chancellor since replacing Mark Preble in January, who was named to the position in August 2020 following the departure of former UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert Johnson in June.

Johnson left for a new position as president of Western New England University after just three years in Dartmouth.

One of the biggest qualities sought in a new chancellor, he said, is a willingness to live in the area and get the university more involved with the community and local businesses.

“[UMass Dartmouth] has a regional component to serve the economy of the South Coast,” Meehan added. “I look forward to getting somebody who understands how businesses and industry works and can work with the business community and the community at large.”

Along with a new chancellor, the UMass president said he anticipates a full return of students to the Dartmouth campus. 

“Some remote options” will remain an option for those who are less comfortable with a full population, Meehan added.

“We expect those students who want to be here will be here,” he said. “And we think most students want to be back — we’re preparing for the challenges of having them back.”

For those returning, Meehan said all UMass campuses will continue to follow CDC and state guidelines amid uncertainties about new variants on the rise across the country.

In a letter addressed to university students and faculty in April, Director of Health Services Marianne Sullivan noted that in order to “ensure the continued health and safety of our campus community,” UMass Dartmouth expects staff and students to be vaccinated come fall — with potential religious and health exemptions.

According to Meehan, more than 65% of faculty across the UMass system are currently vaccinated.

Those who have not gotten a shot, he said, will be encouraged to wear a mask while on campus. 

“We’re going to prepare for being back 100 percent,” Meehan said. “It’s nice to be emerging from this pandemic.”