A new era began today at the University of Massachusetts flagship campus. The new UMass Amherst Chancellor made his public debut at a traditional town-gown event marking the start of the new school year. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, speaking at the annual community breakfast , Wednesday, declared he was excited to be in Amherst, and grateful to have been chosen to be the primary advocate, ambassador and champion for the state university’s flagship campus. He pledged to make the campus and its communities “ exceptional places”
Subbaswamy, who officially became chancellor on July 1st. said he had been welcomed warmly by the people in Amherst, whom he described as both interested and interesting. Before coming to western Massachusetts, Subbaswamy was provost at the University of Kentucky. He is a physicist by training and a native of India.
Subbaswamy is the 5th UMass Amherst chancellor in 11 years. He’s being counted on to bring stability to the office and to lead efforts to raise the school’s national stature as a research institution.
This was the 46th annual community breakfast, sponsored by the university and the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. An estimated 400 people were at the breakfast in the Student Union Ballroom. Organizers said the turnout was larger than in recent years.
Tony Maroulis, the chamber’s executive director, said local businesses are anxious for a strong relationship with the new chancellor.
State Representative John Scibak of South Hadley praised Subbaswamy’s enthusiasm and outgoing personality.
The population of Amherst will soon swell by more than 27,000, as students move in over Labor Day Weekend. Officials say there will be no housing shortage on campus. Undergraduate enrollment is down by about 160 students, as the incoming class is three percent smaller than the previous years’. University officials said this was planned to match faculty and facility resources.
Chancellor Subbaswamy praised the academic achievement of the incoming class. He said that for the fifth year in a row, the freshman class SAT scores were higher than the prior year’s class scores.
Subbaswamy said he is continuing a strategy started by his predecessor, Robert Holub, to increase revenue by admitting more out of state students, who pay higher tuition than do Massachusetts residents.
The demographics of the entering class at UMass Amherst are similar to last year’s. Minorities make up 21 percent of the class. Women account for 49 percent of the class.