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Moving Forward Together: Suffolk’s Week of Giving

One of the things I love about Suffolk is that it’s a community that cares deeply and gives generously.

I watch our students give their best efforts to learn more, and our faculty and staff give their all to help them do it. And our alumni, community partners, and friends give their time and resources to help Suffolk thrive.

This week, we all have the opportunity to give just a little more. From April 4-8, we are celebrating Suffolk’s Week of Giving. This year’s theme is Moving Forward Together, and your gift, whatever its size, will help us do just that.

Each day is dedicated to one particular school or program. Today, we focus on the College of Arts & Sciences; Tuesday, the Law School; Wednesday, Athletics; Thursday, the Sawyer Business School, when we’ll also celebrate the 75th anniversary of our BSBA program. Friday is “Give to What You Love Day,” our chance to support our favorite Suffolk scholarship, center, club, or cause. Gifts can be made here or by texting SUGIVES to 71-777.

Together, if we can raise $100,000, the Suffolk University Board of Trustees will generously match our gifts, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000. That means our gifts can double in impact.

So please join me this week and give back to a University that gives so much to our community, our Commonwealth, and our world. Let’s move forward together.

With appreciation for all you do,

Marisa

By | 2022-04-04T21:54:45+05:00 April 4th, 2022|0 Comments

No Speeches, Just Food and Conversation

This Friday, March 4, is Employee Appreciation Day. I hope you will join me, my wife Margie, Board Chair Bob Lamb, and the Honorable Amy Nechtem, Board Vice Chair, for breakfast between 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. in the first floor function room of Sargent Hall. Most of all, I hope you will join one another.

This is an opportunity for us to come together just to chat, connect, and reconnect.  There will be no speeches. No PowerPoints. No votes. Just a hot breakfast and, I hope, lots of good conversation and engagement.

Suffolk has always been a special community. We are united in our commitment to our students and our mission. And we have all worked hard since March of 2020 to navigate through this pandemic while still ensuring positive outcomes for our students. While the pandemic is still with us, the case numbers have declined, we are an overwhelmingly vaccinated and boosted community, and we can come together safely to break bread (not to mention gulp coffee).

For those who must be or want to be more careful, to-go boxes will also be provided. In other words, you can come and say hello, greet your colleagues, get caught up with your friends from across departments, but keep your masks on and take breakfast with you when you are ready to leave.

As members of the Suffolk community, you are appreciated. I hope you can join us Friday morning so I can say that to you personally, and if you are not able to come, know that you will be missed.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:57+05:00 March 1st, 2022|0 Comments

Honoring Black Americans in February and Beyond

The celebration of Black History Month is a powerful way to acknowledge the achievements of Black Americans, including those who too often have gone unrecognized.

Black History Month also offers an opportunity to salute the many Black leaders engaged in social change, including many Suffolk students and alumni making a difference in Boston and beyond.

A number of outstanding special events, community gatherings, and learning opportunities are happening at Suffolk as part of Black History Month. We recently kicked off our commemorations with the 18th Annual Creating The Dream Awards, recognizing Suffolk students, faculty, and staff who are instrumental in building an inclusive, respectful, and safe environment for the University’s communities of color.

It was a wonderful evening, and there is more to come. Please engage as a member of our community at one or more of the events listed below:   

  • Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2 p.m. “On a New Note: A Virtual Concert and DEI Keynote Presentation by Jade Simmons” co-sponsored by Suffolk University, Simmons University, UMass Boston, and Bunker Hill Community College. Jade Simmons is a world-class pianist and a powerhouse motivational speaker. More details and registration here.
  • Friday, Feb. 18, 3-4:30 p.m. The FPLC Race on Campus group continues its reading series with The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones. The opening Zoom discussion will be held on February 18, with additional sessions on March 25 and April 22. Register here.
  • Thursday, Feb. 24. 12:30 p.m. via Zoom. The Ford Hall Forum at Suffolk University will screen the extraordinary short documentary, The Panola Project, a film by Emmy-winning filmmaker and Suffolk professor, Jeremy Levine. After the screening, there will be a talk back with Jeremy and Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber, Communication, Journalism, & Media. Register here.
  • Thursday, Feb. 24 through Friday, March 4. Ram Inclusion Week, a weeklong series of workshops, panel discussions, and other events that explore and celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion at Suffolk.
  • Friday, Feb. 25, 6-8 p.m. Suffolk University Black Alumni Network’s annual Celebration of Black Excellence, held in Sargent Hall. This year seven alumni, faculty, and staff members will be honored for their contributions and leadership at Suffolk and in their communities.
  • Monday, Feb. 28. 12-1 p.m. Black History Month Trivia with the Black Faculty and Staff Employee Resource Group via Zoom.

This month’s slate of events is just one part of our ongoing campus-wide effort to deepen Suffolk’s longstanding commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and creating positive changes on campus and in the world around us. There is always more for us to learn and experience together as a community, and these events offer us a chance to do so together.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:57+05:00 February 10th, 2022|0 Comments

Mission-Aligned Investment

As part of this University’s core commitment to positively impact communities and serve the public good, we regularly evaluate whether we are living up to those ideals. I’m pleased to share that through the leadership of the Board of Trustees, we have taken an important step in making sure that funds invested from our endowment are better aligned with the University’s responsibility to serve the common good.

Suffolk has a strong and longstanding commitment to sustainability. Like other universities, we take seriously our obligation to confront climate change. We constantly strive to foster inclusion, both in our own community and globally. And we believe we play a role in making the world a better and more just place. With this comes a responsibility to avoid investing in industries that may conflict with or run counter to our mission and values.

This past June, the Board of Trustees approved a change to Suffolk’s Investment Policy Statement that prohibits University investment in five industries. They are:

  • Fossil Fuels
  • Opioids
  • For-Profit Prisons
  • Predatory Lending
  • Tobacco

In January of this year, the University implemented new guidelines under that policy that will ensure that our long-term investment portfolio better aligns with Suffolk’s mission. We have liquidated investments in certain domestic and international equity funds that had exposures to those now prohibited industries. The exposure represented about 2% of our total investment portfolio.

The Board’s Investment Subcommittee chose two firms to hold those liquidated funds in separately managed, index-based accounts. RhumbLine Advisers, an employee-owned, Boston-based institutional investment firm, will manage domestic holdings. Aperio Group, part of the asset management firm BlackRock, will manage international holdings. Both firms will screen for any exposure to prohibited industries.

This initiative was led by our Board of Trustees, and is one that falls squarely in the Board’s purview. I’m grateful to the Board and its Investment Subcommittee for their proactive engagement and leadership in this area. Our trustees believe in the power of our mission, and they are deeply committed to it. The Board may consider additional revisions to the investment policy in the future to ensure that our investment portfolio remains aligned with our mission and values.

My thanks also to Senior Vice President for Finance & Administration and Treasurer Laura Sander and her team for their work in implementing this new policy.

Suffolk joins a number of other colleges and universities implementing socially responsible guidelines in the management of investment portfolios. The successful pursuit of strong returns on University investments in no way requires us to depart from our mission and values. On the contrary, I believe they can be fully aligned. In addition to the University’s many academic and research initiatives in these areas, as well as tireless efforts on the part of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni, we can also bring our investment resources to bear in the pursuit of a more sustainable, equitable, and just world.

By | 2022-04-14T23:31:03+05:00 February 3rd, 2022|1 Comment

Food Truck Anyone?

Sometimes the answer to life’s most pressing problems can be found in a food truck — especially when the food is free.

And sometimes you just need a moment to celebrate a little bit. Fall in New England is wonderful, but let’s face it, there is a lot going on in the world and, at this time of the semester, a lot going on at Suffolk. Students are in the midst of robust coursework, faculty and staff are busy at work and at home, and all of us are still balancing our desire to be together as a community with the important priority of working to keep ourselves and one another safe in the midst of this ongoing pandemic. We all need time to take a break, have some fun, and celebrate together.

Fortunately, we have a perfect opportunity coming up in just over a week. Suffolk Weekend is scheduled from Thursday Oct. 21 through Saturday Oct. 23 and it is chock of full of great events, including one of my annual favorites — The Suffolk Weekend Block Party and Fan Fest Celebration, which takes place completely outdoors.

The way I look at it, there is very little that a Roxy’s three-cheese grilled cheese sandwich and a Cookie Monstah Wicked Good ice cream sandwich can’t fix, at least for a little while.

The Suffolk Block Party and Fan Fest Celebration starts at 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 23, at East Boston Memorial Park. Grab your friends, jump on the Blue Line or take the Suffolk Bus, and come play lawn games, take in the music, paint pumpkins, mug for photos in the photo booth, and enjoy a variety of options from local area food trucks.

Cheer on our outstanding Suffolk soccer teams as they take on Curry College. Women’s Soccer kicks off at 1 p.m.; Men’s Soccer starts at 4 p.m. Register for the Rammy’s Fun Run/Walk, ($10 entrance fee) starting at 11 a.m., at East Boston Memorial Park, with all proceeds benefiting the Suffolk CARES Pantry, which provides food and needed products to Suffolk students at no cost. (If you walk or run, you get a free Rammy 5K T-shirt.)

The Fan Fest Block Party is a great opportunity not only to show our Suffolk spirit and root on the Rams, but also just to be together. We have missed too many events that bring our community together in person over the past year and a half. The pandemic has made in-person community events difficult at times and impossible at others. We’ve done a great job gathering virtually, but this is one where we can be together outdoors and in person, and especially (hopefully) while the weather is still good.

Check out the many other wonderful Suffolk Weekend events here. There are forums and webinars, an Alumni Racial Healing Circle, Boston-themed Music Bingo, a theatre production, Women’s Volleyball, morning meditation and more.

And please join me at the Suffolk Block Party in East Boston. Bring your families. Spread the word. It’s always a blast, but this year, I think it will be particularly great. We deserve it.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:57+05:00 October 12th, 2021|0 Comments

Remembering Those We Lost

The fall brings so many joyful moments at Suffolk. We cherish the excitement of welcoming students to campus, and the energy that comes with a new academic year.

Amidst these wonderful moments is the sobering knowledge that we must also take time this week to acknowledge difficult and painful memories.

Saturday will mark the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, a tragedy for this nation and one of the most painful episodes in many of our lifetimes. Nearly 3,000 women, men, and children were killed in the attacks. It was a horrific day that changed all of our lives. Although many members of the recently arrived Class of 2025 were not yet born, you arrived into a very changed world because of this tragedy.

The profound loss of life on American soil launched a 20-year war in Afghanistan, the longest in American history, one that led to the deaths of countless American and Afghan citizens. Most recently, 13 American military members and more than 90 Afghans were killed in a horrific terrorist attack at the Kabul airport on August 26. We mourn the lives lost and honor the service of military members who made the ultimate sacrifice. As a country, we are still coming to grips with this senseless loss of life and suffering.

This is not a political statement. Rather, it is important to take a moment to stop, remember the lives lost, and reflect on how the past two decades have shaped the world we enter together as a University community this fall.

Today, and especially this Saturday, we remember the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and their families, loved ones and friends, as well as the survivors.

This nation united in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. We found shared grief, but also shared community and strength. By giving these moments the respect and reflection they deserve, we allow ourselves to gain some perspective on where we’ve been, and where we have the potential to go. I hope you will take time this Saturday, as I will, to remember the events of Sept. 11, and the lives lost in that tragedy and in the 20 years of conflict that followed. It is my hope that together we, as a nation, can again find a greater sense of unity and shared strength so necessary to make progress on the ongoing challenges humanity faces.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:57+05:00 September 9th, 2021|0 Comments

Let’s Celebrate Suffolk University

Welcome to Spring Week! Beginning today and running through next Friday, April 30, we are celebrating Suffolk with a broad range of online events. Tonight we have two exciting events taking place — our annual 10 Under 10 Recognition Night, honoring accomplished graduates from the last decade, and Springfest, an opportunity to see the performing arts talents of our students and our employees.

On Monday evening, Devin McCourty from the New England Patriots will engage directly with our community in a free online conversation. On Thursday, April 29, we will launch our annual Suffolk Day of Giving, where members of our community, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends can donate to what they love most at Suffolk. I’m looking forward to connecting with the Suffolk Community on that same day at 4 p.m. through an online conversation sponsored by the Suffolk Summa Society. All of these events, and so many more, are wonderful ways for us to come together as a community, even if virtually, to talk, to listen, to honor, to give, and to just have fun.

Tonight’s events are two of my favorites of the entire year. It is wonderful to see the hidden and not-so-hidden talents of our community members at Springfest. Since I cannot sing, dance, or play an instrument, I am always in awe.

We have so many talented young alumni and the 10 Under 10 annual awards ceremony puts a spotlight on their accomplishments, their career successes, and their positive community impact. My congratulations to all the honorees! You make Suffolk proud.

When I look at the range of events taking place this next week, I am reminded of what a vibrant community we have here at Suffolk, and of the many ways there are to engage, and the incredible array of different initiatives, programs, and opportunities. This vibrancy is underscored by the theme for our Day of Giving this year — Give to What You Love. I hope you will all participate in Suffolk Week, I hope you will learn, listen, honor, have fun, and yes … participate in Day of Giving.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:57+05:00 April 23rd, 2021|0 Comments

What a Year It Has Been

This date, March 18, marks the one-year anniversary of all Suffolk University classes moving online for the spring 2020 semester. Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of nearly all university employees being sent home to work remotely. It has been quite a year.

The pandemic has caused untold suffering and taken an enormous human toll. Uncertainty and change have been constants. We have experienced personal losses and been unable to engage in certain activities that were once routine, like having conversations in the elevator or sitting down with friends to share a meal or even just a cup of coffee. We have become accustomed to nasal swabs and hand sanitizer.

But as a university community, we adapted and continued to do what we do so well. Teaching and learning carried on virtually and in our classrooms, as well as outside of them. Internships, clinical programs, mentoring, counseling, social activities—all core to the Suffolk experience—have continued, often with impressive innovation. You, our students, faculty, and staff, have shown your resilience, creativity, and dedication. Even as we have struggled in some ways, we have learned a great deal about what we can do when we work together to adapt to challenging circumstances. Our principles have guided us, and in the face of challenge we have succeeded as a community and as individuals.

As we move into the second half of the spring 2021 semester, one year after this all began, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We are hopeful that vaccine distribution will continue to grow, protecting all of us and our families and friends, as well as the broader community as a whole. We are eager to gather together again and excited about returning next fall to a vibrant downtown campus, even as we continue to build on our capacity to incorporate virtual operations when it makes sense to do so.

The future is bright, and we should embrace our excitement. But on the one-year anniversary of our launch into remote learning and virtual operations, let us also take a moment to reflect on the losses we have experienced the last twelve months. Some losses are permanent. At noon today, I will observe a moment of silence. Wherever you are, I hope you will also take this time to pause and reflect on all that has happened this past year.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:58+05:00 March 17th, 2021|1 Comment

Get Ready: Resources to Jump-Start Your Job Search

On Thursday, March 4, more than 30 employers across a variety of industries and arenas – from finance to nonprofits, education, healthcare, technology, government, insurance, law, real estate and others – will connect with Suffolk students and recent alumni about job opportunities, including full-time entry-level positions and internships.

The Center for Career Education & Professional Development’s annual Connections: Full-Time Job & Internship Fair will feature representatives from Eastern Bank, Lahey Health, the Museum of Science, Mutual of Omaha, The Massachusetts Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, and many other employers. Recruiters will meet with students as well as alumni from the classes of 2019 and 2020 in groups and in one-on-one sessions.

And it will all take place virtually – through Handshake, the career platform that connects college students with employers and job and internship opportunities.

While the pandemic has necessitated many changes, it has not impacted Suffolk’s core commitment to career preparation. We are committed to fostering career success across all schools and degree levels. Doing so is at the core of our mission. Our programs and activities, inside and outside of the classroom, in person and virtual, are structured to foster critical thinking, analytical abilities, and the power skills of human interaction such as oral and written communication, cultural sensibility, and emotional intelligence – tools that are increasingly valued by employers in today’s work environment.

We also work to harness the power of Suffolk’s networks in support of the professional and personal goals of our students and alumni. We connect students and alumni to one another and to a broad network of companies. Networks matter, and they can be built, nurtured, and accessed virtually.

With this in mind, starting today and leading up to the main event on March 4, the Center for Career Education & Professional Development has created a series of fun, informative and interactive career-focused events. There will be opportunities to network with alumni, develop and improve that elevator pitch, prepare a resume – all designed to ensure that students are at the top of their game for the career fair. It’s called Career Weeks, with events and activities that include:

  • A Career Center Resources Virtual Scavenger Hunt from Feb. 22-26. A random winner selected from all completed submissions will win a $50 gift card.
  • Open Mic Night: Practice Your Elevator Pitch with Suffolk Alums on Feb. 24.
  • Coffee Hour with the Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion (in person) on Feb. 25.
  • Create Your Career Virtual Expo Event on Feb. 25: interactive “speed networking” with alumni & career advisors.
  • Politics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, and Employee Expression in the Workplace conversation with Suffolk University Law School Professor David Yamada on Feb. 26.
  • Job Fair Prep extended drop-in hours on Feb. 23, March 2, and March 3.

You can learn more, view participating employers, and register for specific Career Weeks events via the Career Weeks webpage.

In this challenging economy, we are especially focused on supporting students and alumni in their career development and in accessing career opportunities. The Connections: Full-Time Job & Internship Fair and the many Career Weeks events leading up to it are collectively a wonderful opportunity to advance towards the achievement of your professional goals. Jump in and sign up!

Wishing you success,

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:58+05:00 February 22nd, 2021|0 Comments

Reflecting as We Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, we honor the life and reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose nonviolent pursuit of racial justice and equality awakened a nation and changed the world. But we know now more than ever that we have a long road ahead to rid our society of racial injustice and inequality. Especially clear is that systemic racism continues throughout the sectors that make up our communal life: business, law, politics, health, entertainment, education and in many other areas.

This year honoring Dr. King feels more important than ever and yet insufficient. The holiday takes place against a backdrop of crises, including an enduring and tragic pandemic that has further exposed longstanding health inequities and the disproportional effects of the virus on the Black community and other racial and ethnic groups. The holiday comes after a year when law enforcement killings of unarmed Black people have caused enormous pain in this nation and shined a light on the pervasive racism that continues to exist. It comes at a time when the nation is increasingly polarized following an assault on the U.S. Capitol and on democracy itself.

At the same time, these crises have made systemic racism more visible, not just to those who have suffered from its effects, but to all of us. As these crises further expose the structural inequities in our society, my hope is that greater visibility of the problem will lead more of us to stand up and confront it.

So this year I hope you will join me in celebrating Dr. King’s legacy and at the same time remembering that there is so much still to be done. As we prepare to swear into office the first Black woman and individual of South-Asian descent to the position of Vice President of the United States on Wednesday, we can be reminded that even in the midst of division and violence, we will find a way to continue to make progress.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:58+05:00 January 18th, 2021|0 Comments

Mask Up For Our Students

We are in the season of giving thanks. For many, giving thanks also means thinking about how we can pay it forward and support others. I have one answer for you….please support our students who are most in need by masking up for Suffolk CARES.

The Suffolk CARES program provides emergency assistance grants to undergraduate, graduate and law students who are facing unexpected financial hardships. The Suffolk Food Pantry is also part of the Suffolk CARES program. You can purchase a reusable Suffolk University, Suffolk Law or Suffolk Rams mask for $10. The net proceeds go directly to Suffolk CARES. You can order a mask by texting “sumask” to 71-777 or visit: https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/SUMASK to view designs and order.

And of course, wearing a Suffolk-branded mask helps promote the University as you do your part to protect your health and the health of others. So when you Mask Up for Suffolk CARES you are masking up for students and the broader community.

And by the way, Margie and I can personally vouch for the fact that these are very comfortable masks!

(President Marisa Kelly, right, and spouse Margie Arnold)

Thank you for your support of Suffolk CARES. Wishing you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:58+05:00 November 23rd, 2020|0 Comments

Thank You for Your Service

This has been a challenging year for our nation and for the world. As the pandemic rages on across the globe, it is easy to rush past the moments that are so important in the rhythm of our communal life — those moments when we should all stop and focus on something meaningful to our community as a whole. We have an important opportunity to do so this week on Wednesday, November 11: Veterans Day.

Suffolk University has a long and proud history of supporting veterans and active-duty military service members, including through our Veterans Upward Bound program, which is the only one in our region. Veterans contribute so much to our community, broadly speaking and specifically at Suffolk. We are grateful for their service and leadership, and we are proud of their many contributions. During what has been a very challenging time for this nation, let us be sure we consider what our veterans have sacrificed. And if you have the opportunity to reach out to a veteran or active-duty member of the service, please do so. Express your appreciation.

On behalf of the entire Suffolk University community, I say to all veterans and active-duty service members, thank you.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:58+05:00 November 10th, 2020|0 Comments

To Students Wanting to Participate: We Hear You

Civic engagement is central to this University’s values and to our mission. We cannot prepare students to positively impact their communities without encouraging them to act on those values in the public sphere. This is true no matter what an individual’s political party or affiliation might be.

We are so proud that our students recognize this and have requested the opportunity to engage more fully on Election Day. We have heard this in a nonpartisan manner from student government leaders. To our students: We are proud of your desire to engage in the public sphere, and we hear you.

To ensure that Suffolk students can more fully engage in the political process, all classes will be canceled this Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. Beyond the fundamental civic duty to vote, this decision will also make it easier for students to participate in numerous ways, whether by serving as volunteer poll workers, supporting a candidate, or simply taking time to observe and learn about the political process. While they cannot vote in this election, our international students, and particularly those studying in Boston, can use this time to observe, discuss, and learn about the democratic process in the United States. For those interested, Vice President for International Affairs Sebastián Royo will host a Zoom conversation for international students on Election Day entitled “The U.S. Presidential Election: An International Perspective.” A global education should include understanding civic processes in nations other than our own. In addition, a broad range of election focused events are scheduled. You can find information about them on the Suffolk Votes web page.

The University will remain open on Election Day, and all services for students will continue to be available, though we are taking steps to encourage employees to engage as well.

There is no doubt that this current election cycle has sparked heightened passions across the political spectrum. But this is not a partisan issue. Instead, this is about the value that we as a University place on civic engagement, which is so important to the health of any democracy. Our students understand this, and we stand with them in their commitment to actively and positively participate, no matter which candidate they may support.

While it goes without saying, please do remember that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. As you engage, please be sure that you are doing so safely. Wear a mask. Social distance. You can be politically engaged while still taking the right precautions from a health perspective. Being responsible in the midst of the current health crisis is another important part of being a citizen of the world.

As I said in a blog post a little more than a month ago, participate — it is the Suffolk way. My thanks to our students for giving us the gentle push to ensure nothing stands in their way.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:58+05:00 October 28th, 2020|1 Comment

Participate

In its most recent edition, the Washington Monthly magazine included Suffolk University on its 2020 list of America’s Best Colleges for Student Voting.

A total of 157 institutions across the nation made the list. The magazine looked at school-specific student voting action plans, registration numbers, turnout rates for participating campuses, and other factors.

It’s no surprise that we are on the list. Participating is what we do. That includes faculty and staff members who are actively engaging students in the democratic process, and students themselves, who are energized and continuously working to engage their peers.

This kind of engagement is at the core of who we are. It also gives me an opportunity to remind you – especially our students – to continue to engage in the political process this fall.

In the midst of a pandemic that has had major impacts on our political and electoral processes, that engagement is more important than ever. Whether you are Republican, a Democrat, support a third party, or are an independent; whether you consider yourself liberal, moderate, or conservative, you have a stake in the future of government at every level. Do your homework. Decide who to support, register if you haven’t already, and exercise your right to vote.

Suffolk University is defined by many things, including our historic mission of access and opportunity, our commitment to experiential learning, and the individual attention faculty and staff give to our students. We are defined by the transformational power of a Suffolk education and its ability to help our graduates achieve their personal and professional goals. We also are rightly defined by our commitment to the public sphere.

Our alumni, our faculty and staff, and our students engage in their communities and are a force for good through their professional work, their volunteer engagement, their research, and their participation. We do not just sit on the sidelines.

For our international students or others who may not be eligible to vote in Massachusetts, this message applies to you as well. You, too, have opportunities to impact the public sphere, whether here in the United States or elsewhere across the globe.

It would be easy with all that is going on in the world to become overwhelmed by the weight of our problems – COVID-19 and its economic impact, racism and injustice, climate change – but I see across our community so many examples of people taking action rather than being overwhelmed. They are stepping up and working towards solutions. Engagement is key.

Participate. It is the Suffolk way.

 

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:58+05:00 September 21st, 2020|0 Comments

Your Voices Will Be Heard

I have asked myself over and over in recent days what I can say that will bring comfort to the Suffolk community, and particularly our members of the Black community who are suffering in the wake of the barbaric and tragic killing of George Floyd. I’m not sure there is really anything I can say that can bring comfort or help ease that pain.

But I can tell you that I mourn with you. I know many of you are hurting, and I want you to know that I am supporting you. And our Suffolk community is supporting you.

In a meeting with members of the senior leadership team Tuesday, Joyya Smith, our vice president of Diversity, Access and Inclusion, reminded us of the real suffering that is happening, not only across the nation, but within our own community. Joyya asked us to pause and remember those who have lost their lives. She asked us to take a moment to acknowledge what has happened, and the pain it is causing others, including Suffolk students, faculty, and staff members. I would ask you please to do the same.

I also want you to know that across this community, people are coming together and asking what they can do and how they can help. As a community, we need to do all that we can to peacefully address systemic racism, violence, injustice, and inequity in our society – and then we need to do more. All across campus, we are seeing opportunities for voices to be heard on these issues.

  • This evening, (Thursday June 4), at 7 p.m., our student organization Unspoken Feelings will sponsor a virtual open mic night for Suffolk students. The program title is “Our Voices Will be Heard.” While the event was conceived for students, organizers say all are welcome.
  • Sharing Circle for faculty and staff to discuss the impact of racial trauma on the Suffolk community will be held virtually from noon to 1 p.m. tomorrow, (Friday, June 5).
  • Tomorrow evening, (Friday June 5), the Black Student Union, the Caribbean Student Network, and the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion will host a virtual discussion on police brutality and violence targeted toward the Black community. Similarly, the event is primarily for student voices, but the organizers have invited all Suffolk community members to join.
  • A town hall discussion on racial injustices for the Law School community is planned for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 11. Members of the broader Suffolk community are also welcome and can email lawdeanofstudents@suffolk.edu for virtual meeting details.

Members of our community are also coming forward to suggest other ways in which we can respond. One idea is a virtual wall for community members to post messages of peace. Another is a virtual photo board, where community members could post activist photography, including of people demonstrating. There are opportunities for greater training and awareness for faculty and staff, and for speakers in the fall, and so much more. All over this University, we are hearing community members ask, “How can I help?” I don’t have all the answers, but I am proud that so many of us are asking this question, and together we will decide how to effectively respond, not just this week or next, but also next year and beyond in support of needed change. Doing so is central to our mission as an educational institution. We take very seriously our responsibility to promote positive change, and to address and combat inequity, institutional racism, and oppression – always peacefully and never through violence.

And as we continue to develop our collective answer to the question ‘How can I help,’ we mourn George Floyd and all who have unjustly lost their lives.

In sadness,

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:58+05:00 June 4th, 2020|1 Comment

Traditions Continue

It’s May. This is a month that is normally filled with many in-person celebrations, presentations, and gatherings of all kinds. But not this year. We close out the academic year working, studying, and learning remotely. It is surreal and has been for almost two months now.

But Suffolk is a vibrant place, and our students, our faculty, and our staff are not easily deterred. Despite the challenges, many traditions — serious and celebratory — have continued this spring. SGA continued to meet over Zoom, as did so many of our student organizations. The Honors Symposium took place remotely with judges from across campus participating. The Alumni Office and the Law School have organized a Law Virtual Networking Initiative, and a webinar for graduating students on navigating these challenging times, among many other timely offerings. And Springfest, a tradition that has been part of Suffolk for nearly a half century, moved forward. Yes, the format was different, with performances delivered remotely, but they were fabulous! And the finale was truly a community experience not to be missed. But never fear, if you did miss it you can still watch it here.

Yes, this spring and this month are different. But as I reflect back on this time period years from now I will remember a student body that continued to work hard and to learn despite this pandemic and all the stress it brought with it. I will remember faculty who transformed their classes and staff whose approach to engaging with students and alumni shifted modalities but went on with the same commitment and enthusiasm. And I will remember Zoom meetings with students one-on-one and in groups that were not that different from the many times a student would drop into my office at 73 Tremont Street. The best of who we are as an educational community has continued. Learning has continued. Gathering and having fun through virtual means has continued. I do look forward to when we can all safely come back together in person, but until then, I am so grateful and so proud that so many of our traditions have continued.

And to the class of 2020, never fear. When we can gather again, we will celebrate you all in person at one of our proudest traditions, Commencement. We will have more on that to share in the near future.

Wishing you all good health,

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:59+05:00 May 8th, 2020|0 Comments

My Ask in This Challenging Time

I don’t have to tell you that right now we are living in a challenging time. Our lives and those of the people we care about have been disrupted in ways that feel surreal. This institution and the way it operates has been reinvented, even though only on a temporary basis. We have asked students who came here for a deeply experiential education with personal attention from faculty and staff to adjust to a virtual learning environment absent most co-curricular opportunities. We have asked our faculty to shift their pedagogical approach, or at least the mode of delivery, for the remainder of our semester. And we have asked our employees to shift their responsibilities to staff call centers, to work six feet from one another when on campus even as they attempt to work collaboratively, and to support one another and the institution from their homes or workspaces spread across the region in order to help ensure their physical and psychological well-being.

We have asked a lot and you have all answered. This community has come together and is doing what needs to be done to help us deliver on our educational mission. I am impressed, and I am grateful to you all.

Now I have one more ask. Our students are being impacted by the coronavirus crisis in ways that go far beyond what we can control here at Suffolk. So many of our students are facing increased financial pressure as businesses and organizations where those students hold jobs reduce staffing levels. Transportation has become more challenging, retailers are cutting back, and as restaurants shift to delivery or take-out only, students who work in those venues are impacted. Many will not be getting their normal pay or perhaps any pay at all.

In light of this, I am asking you to support these students by participating in a fundraising effort for the Suffolk CARES program. Suffolk CARES includes both the Suffolk food pantry, which addresses the serious issue of food insecurity among our students, and an emergency assistance fund. Suffolk CARES will provide direct financial assistance to students impacted by the residual effects of this health crisis.

As we work each day to protect our own health and that of our families, as we take steps to support the health of the broader public – people we know and people we do not – and as we continue to work to advance our educational mission, please consider taking a step to alleviate some of the financial stress our students are feeling right now.  Please consider a donation to Suffolk CARES here.

In the days ahead, you will be hearing more about the launch of our effort to support Suffolk CARES, including through support from alumni and friends. And whether you are able to make a donation or not, thank you for the work you are doing from your home office, your couch, your kitchen table, or your office in support of Suffolk and our mission, and most of all our students.

Wishing you good health.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:59+05:00 March 18th, 2020|1 Comment

Pride in the Rams

In the last few years, and thanks to generous donations from alumni Michael and Larry Smith and growing numbers of individual donors, we have been able to expand our intercollegiate athletics programs here at Suffolk. We have added new sports, renovated our facilities, and expanded our full-time coaching staff. These investments are paying off.

They are paying off in terms of the experiences we give our student athletes, the leadership and teamwork capacities athletics engagement fosters, and in the competitive accomplishments of our teams and individual student athletes. Just this month the men’s indoor track and field team, led by coach Will Feldman, took the GNAC title, and in November, Coach Feldman was named Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the second year in a row. Our women’s soccer team had a record-setting season last fall, and coach Ashley Van Vechten was awarded GNAC Coach of the Year. Women’s volleyball had their winningest season in program history. Our students have been named to all-conference teams, set records in sports ranging from cross country to basketball, and are true scholars with significant academic accomplishments and impressive community engagement from fundraising for breast cancer research to taking stands against bullying.

We are and should be proud of our student athletes and our coaches. This past Saturday, I was especially proud of our players, our coaches, and our fans. On Saturday, Jeff Juron, head coach of the Suffolk men’s basketball team, was awarded the Schoenfeld Sportsmanship Award. This award recognizes both Coach Juron and the broader men’s basketball program. The award is presented to the college or university which, in the judgement of the College Basketball Officials Association (CBOA), “best exemplifies the highest degree of sportsmanship, character, and ethics among their players, coaches, and spectators.” The award has been given annually since the 1956-1957 academic year, and is the highest honor that the CBOA awards.

Congratulations Coach Juron and the entire Suffolk Athletics Department for all you are accomplishing on the field, rink, court, or course, and outside of those venues as you foster leadership, community engagement, and collaboration in ways that transcend any single athletics competition.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:59+05:00 February 27th, 2020|0 Comments

Aren’t All Suffolk Undergraduates Under the Age of 22? No.

Near the end of the fall semester, a student in her first semester at Suffolk reached out to me. Let’s call her Jane. Jane is a transfer student from Bunker Hill Community College. She is 46 years old. She had an excellent experience at BHCC and looked forward to her time here at Suffolk. As expected, Jane attended transfer orientation prior to the start of the fall semester. It was not the experience Jane hoped for, nor what we as a community should have provided.

In Jane’s words, “during every pre-school year event that I attended, people offered to help me find my lost child/student or direct me to where other parents were congregating (this happened four times during the daylong transfer orientation day) even though each time I was wearing a lanyard indicating that I was an incoming student. On the first day of school, I was not even inside of a building yet when someone pulled me aside (not physically, but politely tried to block me) and asked if I would ‘like to find the other parents’. On that occasion, I was dressed in cargo shorts, a t-shirt, and a backpack for my new books–a regular student look.”

“Throughout the semester, people have asked me whether I am lost, need help finding ‘a student’ (child), and have asked for my ID…While I understand that anyone can be asked for ID at any time within a building, I never see anyone else ever being asked for ID. All of these interactions have been with other students, student representatives from offices or groups, or Suffolk faculty and staff. I am not referring to the security guards or police on campus.”

I am sorry that Jane has had these experiences. And unfortunately, I am confident that they are not unique to Jane. We can do better. The stereotype that Suffolk’s undergraduate students are all under the age of 22 is not only false, but that idea diminishes the inclusive environment that we strive for as an institution. There are actually more than 1,700 students at Suffolk University who are 25 or older. Many of them are graduate students, but more than 250 of those students are undergraduates. That’s about five percent of our undergraduate population. It goes without saying that all of these students are equally important members of our community. And like all of our students, they must feel and truly be welcomed, respected, and appropriately connected to the University.

On Tuesday, Jan. 28, from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m., in the Stoll Room, 410, Sawyer Building, the Office of Student Affairs will hold a welcome lunch for undergraduates over the age of 25. This will be a time for students to  learn about resources that are available to them, and also to share ideas on how we can better support them.

As we begin the spring 2020 semester, I hope you all will join me in trying to be more aware of our own age assumptions and biases, and committed to doing a better job of ensuring individuals of all ages feel seen, heard, and included here at Suffolk.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:59+05:00 January 14th, 2020|5 Comments

Veterans: A New Opportunity to Say Thank You

Suffolk’s purchase of the building located at 1 Court Street (formerly the Ames Hotel) presents us with many new opportunities: The opportunity to house more of our students within walking distance of their classes. The opportunity to increase Suffolk’s visibility amongst the thousands of people who walk that stretch of the city visiting the site of the Boston Massacre and other historic locations. The opportunity to expand the number of event spaces on campus. But one of the most important opportunities may be to expand our partnership with our newest next-door neighbors.

The New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV) is right next door to 1 Court Street. We share a partial wall, a small alley, and a sidewalk. I have recently had the opportunity to learn much more about the work that NECHV does, and last week I had the privilege of attending NECHV’s annual fundraising gala. Both occasions gave me the chance to see and hear about the incredibly important work NECHV is doing to support veterans. The Center offers veterans a critical link to economic self-sufficiency and successful reintegration into civilian life. Its programs and services help equip veterans with the tools needed to find meaningful employment and independent living. It also provides transitional housing and support for veterans, including those at risk of homelessness. In the most real and meaningful way, the New England Center and Home for Veterans says thank you to those who have served, and its people are making an enormous difference in the lives of veterans. We are proud to call them neighbors.

I am pleased to know that we already have some students who have volunteered at NECHV through Suffolk’s Center for Community Engagement. But now, as we get to know our newest neighbors even better, we have the opportunity to expand our engagement with them. We have the opportunity to say thank you and to follow that up through increased connections to NECHV. I do not know exactly what form expanding our connections might take, but I know that our engagement will provide powerful learning opportunities for our students and have a positive impact on the veterans served by NECHV. We already are in conversation with NECHV about ways to engage with them further. As Veterans Day approaches, I ask us all to think about what more Suffolk can be doing to support veterans and to support the outstanding work of our newest next-door neighbors.

And to all of the veterans here at Suffolk, not just this month or next Monday but throughout the year, and on behalf of the whole University community, thank you for your service.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:59+05:00 November 7th, 2019|0 Comments

Walking the Talk

As you know, experiential learning as a pedagogical focus for our work – inside the classroom and outside of it – is a central element of the Suffolk 2025 strategic plan. At the first Board of Trustees meetings of this academic year, we made sure that the Board understands that we are committed not to just talking about experiential learning, but in fact that we “walk the talk,” and will continue to do so even more. An orientation for new trustees, presentations to the Board during a dinner in Sargent Hall’s fifth-floor Commons, and a presentation to the full Board on a draft dashboard that will track experiential learning activities on campus, all focused substantially on this topic. There is so much great work happening on this front, and it was a pleasure to see some of that shared with the Board.

The Board conducted other important business during these meetings. Trustees approved the final FY19 audited financials, which will soon be posted online, listened to an in-depth presentation on the important work being done by the Center for Counseling Health and Wellness, and got a comprehensive update on the Institutional Master Plan that is currently making its way through the city’s approval process. The Board approved tuition, room, meal plan, and fee rates for next year, and new trustees looked at organizational charts for the various divisions of the University and viewed presentations on University governance and fiduciary duties, among other things.

All of that work is significant and necessary for the operation of the University. But the Board’s focus on the strategic plan and our core value proposition was in my view most critical of all. Experiential learning sits at the heart of our distinctive approach to education. The strategic plan calls for expanding that educational approach so that it is essentially ubiquitous and integrated throughout the curricular and co-curricular experience, and becomes synonymous with a Suffolk education. The University community of trustees, faculty, staff, and alumni must all be focused on our central goal of using experiential learning to ensure our students are ready for career success and community impact in the 21st century global world in which we live. We must be sure that we continue to expand on this work. We must “walk the talk” across all schools, programs, activities, and degree levels to ensure that every student benefits from the transformational power of our approach.

By | 2022-03-25T01:53:59+05:00 October 22nd, 2019|2 Comments

Suffolk Buys a Landmark

I am excited to announce that the University today completed the purchase of the Ames building at 1 Court St., and we are now officially its owner.

This is a great opportunity for Suffolk and an important investment in our future. As you know, expanding our permanent residence hall capacity is a major physical campus initiative called for in the Suffolk 2025 strategic plan. Successful permitting of the building will allow us to open a new Suffolk University residence hall in the heart of our core downtown campus at the start of the fall 2020 semester.

There is still important work ahead. Closing on the sale of the property allows us to begin the rigorous city review process necessary to permit the building for use as a residence hall, a process that will involve significant input from the Boston community.

The opportunities that our students gain while living, studying, and working within our downtown Boston campus are exceptional. Expanding campus housing in this location will further facilitate this commitment both for the students who will live in the building and for all of us in terms of increased gathering space and the opportunity to launch new or expanded partnerships with our neighbors.

Built in 1893, the building at 1 Court St. was the first skyscraper in Boston and the city’s tallest building until 1915. Continuing with a newer Suffolk theme, it is thought to be the first commercial building in Boston to use an elevator (yes, as I always say, what a great way to meet people!). And most importantly, it is just steps from the Old State House, City Hall, the financial district, and within several blocks of key University buildings. It will become another centerpiece of our campus, helping to further solidify our borderless community within the center of Boston.

John Nucci, senior vice president for External Affairs, and his team are leading the critical permitting and community engagement process. Student Affairs and the University Space Committee will engage in consideration of specific building use (for example, shall we house first year students in the building, or sophomores; how might we use certain areas within the building to address other campus space needs). And Director of Facilities Ashley Lindsey will lead a group to address logistical issues.

Again, all of this work will take place in the coming weeks and months, and it will require contributions from many members of our community. I hope the entire community will enjoy knowing that in a year many of our students are going to have an exciting new location to call their home away from home, one that is right in the center of so much that Boston and Suffolk have to offer.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:18+05:00 September 24th, 2019|3 Comments

Well Done!

This is the perfect time of the year to say well done, and I want to shout that through this virtual megaphone to more than one part of the Suffolk community.

First I want to say well done and thank you to everyone who made our third annual Day of Giving, which took place last week on May 1, such a success. Thanks to so many members of our community – alumni and employees, friends, and students – we exceeded our goal of 501 donors and raised more than $100,000, with over $10,000 of that going to the Suffolk CARES Student Emergency Assistance Fund and the Law Student Emergency Assistance Fund. The programs provide small grants to help eligible students cope with unexpected expenses caused by crisis situations.

This strong support for the University and our students is fantastic!

I am especially proud that we had more employees participating than in any previous year, with so many sharing their Suffolk pride and encouraging donations through their own social media posts. It is so exciting to see our community coming together in this way as we build a culture of philanthropy.

I also want to say a special thank you to all the members of the Alumni and Annual Giving team who worked hard to make the Day of Giving such a success, and to our alumni lead volunteers who were so crucial to our achievement this year.

As the academic year comes to a close, I also want to say well done, to all our faculty and staff for another year of dedicated work ensuring the transformational learning of our students across all levels and all schools. Your work is so important and impactful.

And finally, I want to say congratulations and well done to all our graduating students. We are so proud of all you have accomplished during your time here at Suffolk. We look forward to celebrating with you during Commencement weekend, and most importantly we look forward to continuing to engage with you as you make your way down your varied life paths.

Congratulations to all!

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:18+05:00 May 7th, 2019|0 Comments

Earth Week at Suffolk

It’s April, and that means that almost everyone at Suffolk is even busier now than they are the rest of the year. April means that students are working on final projects, studying for exams, or getting ready for end-of-the-year performances and oral presentations.  Faculty are grading, and grading, and grading. Staff are planning Senior Week, preparing for major events such as Commencement, or working tirelessly to ensure that our online grading system runs smoothly, our event spaces are set to go, and our facilities projects for the summer are all set to launch. And did I mention that the Admission team is already recruiting for the fall of 2020 even as they continue to focus on bringing in the new students who will be joining us in September?  Wow.

Yes, it is April.  Everything I have referenced above, and so much more, is important to helping us fulfill our mission in small ways and large. But in the midst of all of this work, I am asking you to make room for something else this week. I’m hoping you’ll take time to focus on Earth Week and how we can do more to advance a culture of sustainability here at Suffolk.

The Suffolk Sustainability Committee has put together a week of wonderful activities designed to help us do just that. There is a green building campus tour this afternoon, and later today a discussion of environmental policy in Massachusetts. Tomorrow, the Sustainability Committee and Sodexo will host the University’s first-ever Farmer’s Market with fresh local produce.

On Wednesday night there is a screening of the film To the Ends of the Earth, and on Thursday an Earth Day Fair will be held on Roemer Plaza. All week long you can follow the Student Environmental Club on Instagram @suffolkenviro and hashtag #SUEARTHDAY2019 to maybe, just maybe, win a bike in the social media raffle.

I hope you will participate in one or more of these events. But most of all I hope we will all take some extra time this week to think about how our practices at Suffolk can be adjusted to help us be a more sustainably focused institution that is working to combat climate change and, in our urban location, contributing to a more sustainably focused Boston as well.

Even during this busy time of year, it’s worth putting greater focus on sustainability as a University community. The earth depends upon us to do our part.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:18+05:00 April 22nd, 2019|1 Comment

A Building to Be Celebrated

 

Students were coming and going through the first floor lobby of the 20 Somerset building one recent afternoon. Some carried cups of coffee, no doubt fueling up for the long night of studying ahead. After all, it is that time of year.

Some studied quietly, feet up on an ottoman or huddled over a laptop. Digital signage screens broadcast upcoming events such as a Walk for Change, yoga practice, and the weekly Diversity Coffee gathering. Paper flyers and posters next to the elevators took a more traditional approach, inviting students to Passion Latina’s upcoming Culture and Fusion Spring Dance Showcase, and advertising a session on Diversity in the Financial Services Profession, to note just a couple of examples. Downstairs in the Smith Dining Hall, students chatted in pairs at high-top tables and studied together around laptops. Others worked solo, earbuds in place.

Upstairs, a few students worked in the science labs while others studied together in a conference room. Outside, Roemer Plaza was quiet, not quite warm enough yet for people to sit and talk or read under the sun. A faculty member walked from crowded table to crowded table in a classroom visible through the big window above the Suffolk University sign on the building’s facade.

This building. This incredible building, brimming with academic and student life, is so central to who we are as a University, and a quick walk through the lobby on just about any day will reveal just that. It provides an instant snapshot of our vitality, our diversity, our excellence, and our engagement. Since it opened in 2015, the building has been central to our academic enterprise, and to our cocurricular life as well.

Lennie Samia with scholarship recipients

It is a building to be celebrated, and I can’t wait to do just that this Friday, April 12, when we will name the building for an alumnus who is passionate about Suffolk’s mission and who has been so generous to this University. I hope you will join me at the dedication ceremony at noon on Roemer Plaza, when we will rename 20 Somerset the Leonard J. Samia Academic Center, and then celebrate with a reception and lunch.

Lennie Samia, who graduated from the Business School in 1969, experienced firsthand the transformative power of a Suffolk education. He credits his Suffolk education as playing a major role in his considerable success. And he is deeply invested in helping others access those life-changing experiences. The $10 million gift that he is making to the University supports student scholarships, opening doors of opportunity that might otherwise not exist. In short, Lennie is giving back, and we are so grateful to him and the Samia family for that generosity.

How fitting it is that on Friday April 12, we will name this building that is so central to our academic mission the Leonard J. Samia Academic Center after a quintessential Suffolk graduate. I look forward to seeing you all there.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:18+05:00 April 8th, 2019|0 Comments

The Power of Storytelling

Watching the Academy Awards last night, I was struck by the diversity of voices represented by the nominees and their work. Each one tells a unique story.

Ruth E. Carter made history when she became the first black woman to win a Best Costume Design Oscar for her work in Black Panther. In her acceptance speech she said: “My career is built with passion to tell stories that allow us to know ourselves better.”

I’m so excited that Carter will soon become part of the Suffolk story when we welcome her as our College of Arts & Sciences commencement speaker this spring.

Carter’s groundbreaking work spans decades and genres. Her meticulously researched and exquisitely designed costumes help transport audiences, bringing history to life and making fantasy real. Carter’s work also has a cultural impact beyond the world of film, with her African influenced Black Panther designs inspiring fashion from the runway to the tennis courts of Serena Williams. The enormous success of Black Panther is due in no small part to Carter’s talents, and speaks to the global appetite for stories that amplify long-marginalized voices.

Like many of you, I also watched with pride as Suffolk alumna Gabriela Rodriguez was nominated for her work as a producer on Roma, a drama focused on the housekeeper of a 1970s family in Mexico City. Rodriguez, BS ’03, was the first Latin American woman to contend in the Academy Awards Best Picture category. Her nomination, and the film’s impressive Oscar tally, contribute to the growing awareness that well-told stories of traditionally underrepresented people can garner both artistic and commercial success.

It is about time we tell those stories and honor those experiences. I hope that sentiment was shared by millions of viewers last night, as I am certain it is shared by so many of us here in the Suffolk community.

Back in 2016, you will recall, the #OscarsSoWhite social media movement shined a light on what many viewed as the systemic omission of people of color from the Awards’ nomination and voting processes. Last night was a significant step forward, though of course with much work still to be done.

I am proud Ruth E. Carter will be one of our distinguished commencement speakers this year, and so pleased that we could announce this during this important month. Each day these last few weeks when I passed by the Sawyer Library’s Black History Month display I was reminded of the unique opportunity we have as an academic community to learn from those whose lived experiences might be very different from our own. The exhibit features highlights from decades of Ford Hall Forum events that have brought, and continue to bring, thought-provoking topics and iconic figures including the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Maya Angelou into our orbit. It also showcases individual Suffolk stories, like that of Thomas Vreeland Jones, a World War I veteran who was among the first African Americans to graduate from Suffolk Law School over a century ago and in whose name a scholarship continues to provide assistance to law students. And some day in the future, perhaps it will also include a reference to Ruth E. Carter’s undoubtedly inspiring commencement speech.

Suffolk will wrap up this Black History Month on Thursday with a talk and demonstration from Gwendolyn Rosemond — organized by the Black Faculty & Staff employee resource group — who will share the origins and art of African storytelling. I can think of no better way to celebrate and learn than by sharing in this rich cultural tradition.

As Black History Month draws to a close, I hope we will reflect on the steps towards inclusion reflected in this year’s Oscars, while recognizing there is more to be done. And I hope we will be reminded that this is true at Suffolk as well – there are steps that we must take as a community on an ongoing basis, and long after the month of February has drawn to a close.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:18+05:00 February 25th, 2019|0 Comments

We Are Driven

At Suffolk University we are driven by the power of education, inclusion, and engagement to change lives and positively impact communities. Committed to excellence, we provide students with experiential and transformational learning opportunities that begin in the center of Boston, reach across the globe, and lead to extraordinary outcomes for our graduates.

I am excited to share with you our new mission statement, adopted by the Board of Trustees at its meeting last Friday, February 8. The words in bold are changes that were made in response to input from you, members of the Suffolk community. From your responses to the mission survey we sent out early in the fall semester, to your participation in town hall meetings and coffees, to your suggestions submitted by email, to the comments you made to me in our elevators and hallways, you have been critical to the crafting of this statement. Thank you for your engagement in this process.

Yes, this is our new mission statement, but as you know, our mission is not new. This statement very much reflects the core commitment to transforming students’ lives through education that has been a defining aspect of Suffolk University since our founding by Gleason Archer in his Roxbury apartment all those decades ago. This is who we are and what we do, and I am energized by being a part of it. I know you are too.

Of course, we have much work to do. As we continue to develop the next University strategic plan, we will be guided by this mission, by the changing landscape in which higher education exists, and the changing world our graduates face. We must continue to work to stay true to this mission while also innovating, growing, and focusing, in all the ways necessary to ensure our long-term success. We will do that work because our important mission requires that we succeed. Future generations of students and our alumni are counting on us. So as we chart our course for the future, let me again thank you for your engagement in the process.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:18+05:00 February 14th, 2019|0 Comments

Off to a Great Start

Welcome back to campus. Here at Suffolk, 2019 is off to a wonderful start. Our students, returning and new, are here and engaged in their classes, involved in clubs and volunteer work, active in our labs and athletic facilities, pursuing internships and projects, and generally running across the cities of Boston and Madrid, as is the Suffolk way. Yes, the elevators are crowded again, but I find that exciting.

And with all our students back, there is so much happening on campus. Importantly, tomorrow, Thursday, January 17, we will host our annual Martin Luther King, Jr., event and reception, where we will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. We will hear from our keynote speaker, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross, who is the city’s first African American commissioner. And our annual Creating the Dream Award will be given to a deserving member of the Suffolk community. As an institution committed to inclusion, this event is particularly core to our mission. I hope you can join me and my wife Margie as we all come together and honor Dr. King and our commitment to inclusion. Please find event details and RSVP here.

We also are in the midst of our Suffolk 2025 strategic planning process, with 12 planning teams working full throttle to develop recommendations around our academic programs, enrollment, facilities and campus space, fundraising and alumni engagement, and numerous other areas. We will share some of those ideas and gather employee input at a town hall forum that will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, January 25, at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Conference Center, Milstein Hall auditorium, 10 Winter Place, Boston. I’m looking forward to seeing members of our employee community there. Those who are unable to attend may watch on livestream.

I hope you’ve noticed that our new website has launched and have been enjoying it as much as I have. It is a dynamic window through which the rest of the world can get a better sense of who we are and what we do. It’s functional, user friendly, and brings our stories to life through vivid imagery and storytelling. If you have not visited the site yet, I urge you to take the time to explore it. Yes, there are still small changes to be made and additional content to be added, but it is a truly fantastic new web presence for this University.

Finally, my congratulations to the 193 Suffolk Rams who recently made the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll, which requires a grade point average of at least 3.0. That is a new record for Suffolk, and one we can be very proud of. Way to go Rams! And speaking of which, Saturday, January 19, is Senior Night for the Suffolk Men’s Hockey team. The Rams will take on New England College at 7 p.m., on home ice, at the Emmons Horrigan O’Neil Memorial Rink in Charlestown. Come cheer them on to victory with me.

Wishing all of you a wonderful semester.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:18+05:00 January 16th, 2019|0 Comments

A New Mission Statement

As the fall semester comes to a close, I am excited to share with you our progress on one initiative we began this past August, writing a new mission statement.

As you know, we have in the last year or two recommitted ourselves to the key elements of our historic mission to provide access and opportunity to a diverse community of students. That is a core commitment and will remain so. But it was clear in conversations with the senior leadership team, the Board of Trustees, and the campus community, that it is time for us to change the articulation of our mission. So early this fall we sent out a survey to find out what you liked about the current mission statement, what you wanted changed, and what was critical to include in the new draft. We also held a town hall forum. We got excellent input.

This feedback led to the following summary list of elements to be considered in crafting the new statement:

  1. The new statement should be more clear and concise
  2. It should be more Suffolk specific
  3. It should include or imply the following: inclusion/diversity, develops student potential/empowers students to be successful, experiential learning, public impact/civic engagement, educational excellence

Based on this input, we worked on a new draft and shared it with the Board of Trustees at its meeting last week. I have asked the Board to provide feedback between now and the end of this month.

Here is our new mission statement….perhaps, as I want to hear from you and our trustees before we take a final version to the Board in February for final review and approval:

At Suffolk University we are driven by the power of education, inclusion, and engagement to change lives and positively impact communities. We provide students with transformational learning opportunities that begin in the center of Boston, reach across the globe, and lead to extraordinary outcomes for our graduates. 

Personally, I believe this is a powerful statement that makes clear who we are, what we do, and that affirms our core commitments. However, I also think that it is critical that we all believe in our mission and recognize ourselves in the statement we make to the world. So I welcome your reactions. Feel free to stop me in the hall, send me an email, post a comment on this blog, or share your thoughts with me over a plate of appetizers at our holiday party tomorrow afternoon.

Happy holidays,

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:19+05:00 December 13th, 2018|0 Comments

Our Resolve

As members of the Suffolk community we are united by many things. We are united by our commitment to our educational mission, and for students your commitment to your educational experience. We are united by our engagement with the cities of Boston and Madrid. We are united in our commitment to access and opportunity. We are united by our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to civil engagement with one another even when we disagree.

And today more than ever, we must be united in our stance against anti-Semitism, hatred, and violence. We condemn in the strongest of terms the tragic shooting of so many at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last Saturday. This was a heinous act of anti-Semitism and an abomination to the world. Anti-Semitism is abhorrent. We mourn the victims of this senseless tragedy and our thoughts and prayers remain with their families, and with all members of the Jewish faith.

Beyond this message of condemnation and condolence I hope you will see that this is a message of resolve. Hatred and violence towards any group or individual whether based on religion, culture, race, gender, sexual orientation, the color of one’s skin or the fact that a person’s birth certificate does not match their sex, has no place here at Suffolk. As a community we are not all the same, and we do not always agree. But let us agree that our differences are something to celebrate, and that hate has no place here. Tragedies such as the shooting in Pittsburgh can make us all feel powerless. But at Suffolk we can help combat hate by fostering community and working to be truly inclusive. This University shares powerful values of inclusion, justice, equality, and acceptance. I’m grateful to work each day in a community that puts the highest emphasis on those values, and I look forward to continuing our work together to use them to make this world a better place. Let us resolve again to do that together.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:19+05:00 October 31st, 2018|0 Comments

A Stronger Voice

In my inauguration speech, I said that we would bring a stronger voice to sharing our story. And, in fact, we are already doing so. I have never heard the collective voice of the Suffolk community stronger than it was on October 12 and throughout Suffolk’s Inauguration and Alumni and Family Weekend. In the nearly two weeks since, I have heard the same sentiment from so many of you, as well as from people who didn’t know the Suffolk community as well and experienced that strength of voice firsthand.

It is inspiring to see this kind of shared belief in our community, our mission, and our future. Our students, alumni, faculty, and staff, came together over Inauguration and Alumni and Family Weekend to celebrate all that we are and all that we can be. We made a statement to ourselves, to the city of Boston, and importantly to representatives from the higher education community across New England and the nation that we are Suffolk University and — more than just a line from a speech — we are, indeed, a powerful force for good, working together to create transformational pathways of opportunity for the members of our richly diverse community.

Our collective and shared purpose is leading to greater success across the University. Our enrollments are stronger. Our alumni and fundraising program for the year is off to an excellent start. Our new brand campaign, created with input from across the University, has launched with great initial success. As we help students make their way, we are also making our way. And we are doing it as a community. We made that loud and clear October 12.

And to ensure that we will do so far into the future, we are working across the campus to develop our new strategic plan: Suffolk 2025. In a packed Town Hall Forum last week, I talked about responses to our mission survey and the next steps in the development of the new plan. Administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustees will all be part of our planning process. Your engagement with that process is key, so please look for opportunities in the coming weeks and months to provide your thoughts on Suffolk and our future. As you do so, I will look for opportunities to keep you informed about our process and our progress.

I will also be keeping the Board of Trustees updated, as they play an important part in strategic planning, and ultimately must approve any final plan before we can begin its implementation. With this in mind, the Board and senior administrators held a joint retreat in August as a first phase of our planning process. The retreat helped frame some of the boundaries of the strategic planning process, and importantly, it gave us some time to think about possibilities without being trapped by our daily routines.

In addition, at the Board meeting last week I provided trustees with an update on our planning process. I shared with them the same information I provided to you at the Town Hall Forum, listened to their ideas, and addressed their questions. It was a great conversation.

The Board also took some important actions during its meeting and heard other essential reports. Highlights of Board actions include:

  • Holding its third annual Trustee Orientation
  • Approving two honorary degree recipients (we will announce the slate when all three have been finalized)
  • Setting tuition, room and board, and fee rates for the next academic year
  • Approving a new master’s degree in Medical Dosimetry
  • Reviewing the positive financial results for FY18, approving the FY18 audit, and reviewing the annual conflict of interest forms
  • Listening to an overview of our academic program review process and major outcomes
  • Approving a set of very positive changes to our employee retirement plan, effective January 1, 2019, which will provide more investment options and remove barriers to entry in the plan.

Yes, it has been a busy fall for us all, and I hope an uplifting one for each of you. We are a community, we are moving forward, and we are working together to plan our future. And remember, a stronger voice requires a strong community. My thanks to our entire community for all that you are doing to keep that momentum alive.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:19+05:00 October 25th, 2018|0 Comments

Another Rankings Success, but This One Is Mission Centric

Fall is the time when many college and university rankings are published. While there is well-deserved skepticism about the value of such rankings, it remains the case that they matter. Prospective students and their families—both domestic and international—still use rankings to help them select the institutions they will consider as part of their college search. Of course, they make their decisions based on much more than rankings, but for us to ignore the impact of rankings would be a significant mistake.

With this in mind, I am excited to share that Suffolk continues to rise in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings. For the third year in a row we have been ranked as a National University, moving up four places on the list to 177. We moved up 11 spots since we were first ranked as a National University in U.S. News’ 2017 rankings.

Suffolk also tied for third among the U.S. News’ National Universities in percentage of international students (last year we were tied for fifth). International students play an important role in our educational mission. This ranking helps reinforce the fact that Suffolk has an international makeup and that this is a place where international students are not just welcomed, but also included.

Our U.S. News & World Report ranking is something for us to celebrate, and it reflects the continued strengthening of our reputation. But I am even more excited by another ranking that was also recently released—the Washington Monthly College Rankings.

The Washington Monthly started ranking colleges and universities 13 years ago. Its focus is distinct. The publication ranks institutions based on their contributions to the public good in three areas: research, social mobility, and community service. The latter two of these three categories sit at our core. We create transformational pathways of opportunity that take many of our students from the bottom 40 percent of the income ladder to the top 40 percent. And throughout their Suffolk experience, we foster a spirit of service and civic engagement in our students in a variety of ways. We are a leader among universities in voter registration drives, service learning courses, law clinics and the promotion of volunteer opportunities. That spirit of service is something our graduates carry with them throughout their lives.

In other words, Washington Monthly measures things that we care a lot about. With that in mind, I am thrilled to share with you that Washington Monthly has ranked us at number 98 in the National University category. Suffolk shot up 142 places since last year to crack the top 100 on the strength of student voter engagement and our ability to graduate students with significant financial need who receive Pell grants. As we continue to build our reputation to ensure that the nation and the world understand our value proposition, this particular ranking is something to celebrate, and something of which we can all be very proud.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:19+05:00 September 10th, 2018|1 Comment

Building Community

Welcome! To those of you who have been here, welcome back to the start of a new academic year, and for those of you who are new to Suffolk, welcome to our community.

When I was growing up I was always so excited about the start of a new school year (looking forward to seeing friends again, learning new subjects, going to school athletic events), and I feel that same excitement now as we greet our new and returning students and recommit ourselves to supporting them in the discovery and pursuit of their passions.

In addition to our law students, who already have begun classes, and our first-year, transfer and graduate students, who start next week, we are welcoming 137 new INTO Suffolk students. That brings our total INTO Suffolk student population, including continuing students, to 152, which is nearly 45 percent above our goal for this fall. They come from dozens of countries, including China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India, Malaysia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, and many others, and we are very pleased to have them join the Suffolk community, knowing that even as they learn from us we all will learn from them as well.

In addition, we have 35 talented new faculty members joining our Suffolk community. I had the privilege of meeting many of them at New Faculty Orientation last week. What a fantastic new group of scholars, teachers, and mentors. We also welcome 30 new staff members who have joined the University since June 1, and who play important roles in supporting our mission.

Yes, our community is growing, and even as we move forward this fall with many important initiatives (like the launch of a new strategic planning process that you will hear more about in the coming weeks) it is important that we recommit ourselves to building not just the size of our community, but also the strength of our ties to one another. Working to further foster connections within the Suffolk community—across all populations, from students, to faculty, to staff, to alumni—will be an important focus for the coming academic year.

One way to build those connections is through office and departmental gatherings. As a University, we have given some thought in recent months to how we could foster more of those kinds of informal and fun events that are so important in building stronger professional relationships and in creating a better workplace for everyone. With that in mind, we have created a new Team Recognition Events Fund, which can be used for informal departmental and office events that help build a collaborative atmosphere. We are not talking about a huge amount of money, but rather some funds available for colleagues to celebrate a group success, or for a team-building event that brings colleagues together in a social, casual, or fun setting. In addition, we have separately set aside funds for small welcome and farewell gatherings. I realize these are relatively small initiatives, but I hope you will view them as I do: as important signs of our collective understanding that to be a strong and vibrant institution we must be a strong and vibrant community, committed to our powerful mission and connected to each other, with an endless capacity to make a positive difference in the lives of our students.

I look forward to working with all of you over the course of the academic year to strengthen vital connections, to bring new members into the fold, and to build an even stronger Suffolk University.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:19+05:00 August 30th, 2018|0 Comments

Building a Culture of Philanthropy

Suffolk University has had a great deal of fundraising success this academic year. As you know, we have received some of the largest gifts in the University’s history. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Suffolk has received $4 million in cash donations and more than $15 million in new pledges and commitments thus far this year.

As we approach the end of the academic year and I look back on our Advancement success, I’m very happy with the dollars raised. But I’m even happier with how those gifts have touched not one, but several of the most important pillars of this institution.

These new gifts, and the completion of previous commitments, are supporting three areas that are critical to the success of this University. They are serving to improve the cocurricular student life experience, expand our access and opportunity mission, and support the excellence of our academic offerings and of our faculty.

Specifically:

  • A $3 million pledge from Larry and Michael Smith continues the brothers’ generous support for Suffolk’s athletics programs and facilities that enrich the student life experience. The Smith gift also supports student scholarships.
  • Leonard Samia’s $10 million pledge will provide scholarships to Massachusetts students with financial need – a gift that could not be more in line with our access and opportunity mission.
  • And through her establishment of the Carol Sawyer Parks Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies, Carol is providing vital support for our faculty members and our important academic mission.

I can’t overstate the positive impact of this mix of philanthropy to advancing our mission. Because Suffolk University is greater than the sum of its parts, we need to support all of those things to fully deliver on our commitment to students.

Led by our Advancement office, we are starting to see real traction in our efforts to build a culture of philanthropy across the Suffolk community. We have a long way to go, of course, and in many ways, we are only just beginning. But over the past year, we have seen important signs of progress, including these generous gifts. Building that culture of philanthropy takes broad support – an entire community committed to a mission and to the idea that everyone has a stake in the outcome.

This academic year has also seen a number of wonderful events that are building alumni engagement, another critical component of a culture of philanthropy. From the Summa Giving Society Holiday Party in December, to the Law Clinical Programs 50th Anniversary Dinner, to a reception in Madrid that brought together alumni, parents, and first-year students, as well as other events too numerous to name, we have had a slate of programs that have fostered a genuine sense of excitement about Suffolk and all that we do here.

One new achievement about which I am particularly excited is the launch of the Black Alumni Network. This was an idea first raised by double Ram and trustee Ernst Guerrier. Ernst has been a force behind bringing this idea to life, and I am so grateful to him and to all those who played a part. The Black Alumni Network, the Black Student Union, and the Black Law Students Association worked with our alumni office to hold the first Celebration of Black Excellence dinner just two weeks ago. About 300 guests attended as we highlighted the accomplishments of alumni, faculty, and staff of color. It was an incredible night that not only celebrated achievements of an accomplished slate of honorees, but also underscored Suffolk’s commitment to our core mission and the values that we are focused on fostering now and in the future.

These important events take the time and commitment of many individuals, and I want to thank all of those involved. Tomorrow is Suffolk’s annual “Day of Giving.” A donation, no matter the size, is an important sign of support for this culture of philanthropy that we are building together, and I hope you will consider making a gift. In a year of incredible alumni engagement and recording-breaking generosity, I am so grateful to all those who give their time, talent, and treasure to this University.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:19+05:00 April 23rd, 2018|0 Comments

Suffolk as a Cappella

This past Friday night I had the pleasure of attending an a cappella showcase featuring groups from institutions around the region. The event was produced (their first production ever!) by a relatively new a cappella group here at Suffolk, Soulfully Versed. There were many members of the Suffolk community in attendance, including parents, and all were having fun.

The entire show was really wonderful, but it was Soulfully Versed’s video and performance that I want to comment upon here. As someone who cannot carry a tune at all, I am always amazed by people who can sing so well, and do so accompanied by their own vocally created beats without the support of separate musical instruments.  But it was Soulfully Versed’s commentary that impacted me most.

These students are clearly not only passionate about singing, but also about what a cappella represents. They talked about a cappella music in a way that suggested a celebration of diversity – the blending of voices together so as to create a wonderful song that is richer than when each individual is singing alone. I suppose at a basic level all of a cappella is about that blending. But this group’s intentionality stood out in that it was clearly not only about the music, but also about much more.

The students in the Soulfully Versed video explain it better than I could.

“A cappella to me means many voices and many people from different places, different backgrounds, and different paths, who come together to finally make one and be one together,” said Htet Ei Wai, a Soulfully Versed singer.

Founding member and president Jo’lise Grant summed it up: “A cappella is family” – a sentiment echoed by others in the group.

And it dawned on me as I was sitting in the theater enjoying the performance of every group there, that a cappella, as represented by Soulfully Versed, is in fact a musical representation of what Suffolk aspires always to be: an inclusive community where people from a broad range of backgrounds, races, orientations, geography, identities, and beliefs come together in concert to create a community that so uniquely blends interactions, engagements, opportunities, and learning.

There is no doubt that we have outstanding curricular and co-curricular programs in the arts at Suffolk. And I may just start pitching us as an institutional embodiment of a cappella. Now if only I could carry a tune.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:19+05:00 March 28th, 2018|0 Comments

A Busy Set of Meetings

The Board of Trustees held its first board meeting of 2018 at the end of last week, with a full agenda and a busy set of committee meetings. Action items for trustees included the approval of an updated capital budget for FY18 and a vote to accept the external auditor’s reports.

Each vote is important, but for me the most exciting vote was the one approving the slate of faculty tenure, promotion, and emeritus/a appointments that we recommended, an approval which included granting tenure to six Legal Practice Skills faculty, a group who were previously ineligible for this distinction. Once again we will honor those who were awarded tenure, promotion, or emeritus/a status at the Board Plus dinner in April. This will be a wonderful evening focused on the incredible accomplishments of individuals who sit at the epicenter of so much that we do – our faculty. But let me take a moment now to say CONGRATULATIONS to all those awarded such honors. We are very proud of all you have accomplished and all you do each day to advance student learning, research, and this institution.

Over the course of the two days trustees were here on campus, they also listened to a number of very important presentations, a couple of which I want to highlight here. The Board’s Student Affairs Committee heard from Dean of Students Ann Coyne and Director of Student Outreach and Support Amanda McGrath, who discussed, among other things, the new student food bank we are establishing at Suffolk. Student food insecurity here and across the nation is a growing phenomenon and we are working hard to ensure that we provide our students the support they need to thrive. Thanks to trustee Susan Connelly and a donation from her employer, the Darden Group, the new student food pantry will be built and ready for use before the start of the fall semester. Amanda shared with trustees just how impactful this predictable source of food will be for some of our students.

The committee also heard about the Journey Leadership Program from undergraduate Morgan Robb, who gave a firsthand account about the impact of her engagement in the program, especially her experience swimming with manatees.

On Thursday night, College of Arts & Sciences Dean Maria Toyoda talked about the faculty, programs, and innovative initiatives unfolding in the College. Trustees and administrators were joined by the College Alumni Board members. It was a wonderful opportunity for all to interact with one another as their window into CAS grew larger. I think the trustees were especially interested in Physics Professor Walter Johnson’s new virtual reality initiative and its impact on teaching and learning across all three schools, and with the phenomenal candidates in our CAS faculty search pool.

On Friday, the Board heard a full report on our Title IX efforts, ranging from student, faculty, and staff training, to details about the Title IX hearing process, to a look at the categories of cases we have experienced in recent years. A key message: We take Title IX seriously, we are committed to treating all parties fairly, and we have no tolerance for inappropriate conduct.

The success of the Student Philanthropy Center also was a topic of discussion with the Board’s Advancement Committee. Caitlin Haughey, senior director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, Lais Fortaleza, assistant director, and their team, along with a group of student callers, briefed the committee on their work in raising significantly more donations than in past years.

My thanks to all the members of the Suffolk community who have worked so hard on all of these and other initiatives. And again, my hearty congratulations to our faculty members who have received tenure, promotion and emeritus/a appointments.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:19+05:00 February 14th, 2018|1 Comment

Welcome INTO Suffolk Students

Now that we all have had a chance to settle into the spring 2018 semester a bit, I want to take this opportunity to ask you to join me in welcoming one of the newest groups of students, our INTO Suffolk students.

This spring the INTO Suffolk partnership became very real when the first group of new students admitted through this vehicle joined our community. There are 39 students in all, a number that will grow significantly with each semester from this point forward. And whether they are here to improve their English language skills and then move on or are here to pursue a degree program, they are valuable members of the broader Suffolk community.

We are an institution committed to access and opportunity and to providing a global education for all of our students. Our partnership with INTO is helping us to live up to both of these commitments. Along with many of our domestic students, many of our international students also are first-generation college students seeking an education as a pathway to opportunity. And as students from around the globe sit in our classrooms, engage in collaborative projects with other students, participate in our clubs and on our athletic fields, they contribute to the cultural and global education of the whole campus community.

International students are valued members of our community. We are fortunate to have so many international students here at Suffolk and to have a new partner working with us as we strengthen our global focus. So if you have a chance to meet one of our new INTO Suffolk students or a member of the INTO staff working collaboratively with us to serve this new population, please join me in welcoming them and in helping them to more fully embrace Suffolk University and all we have to offer.

In addition, if you have questions about this new partnership, want to learn more about how we are working to further support faculty development related to international student education, or want to learn more about the long-term opportunities associated with INTO Suffolk, just pop by my office as I would love to talk with you further.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:19+05:00 January 29th, 2018|0 Comments

#SuffolkSaidYes

Later today, we’ll gather as a community at the annual Suffolk University holiday party to celebrate our achievements this past year. It’s also a time of celebration for another special group, the prospective fall 2018 undergraduates.

Today we let 2,237 early action applicants know they’ve been accepted to our University. They represent 45 countries and 46 states, with 80 of them related to Suffolk alumni. These students are among our most motivated and highest-achieving applicants, and their acceptance to Suffolk is joyful news for all of us.

Many of you have asked how you can welcome this newest group of Rams. You have a few options. I encourage you to join me in the new year at a Suffolk Showcase for Admitted Students on February 25, April 8, or April 22. You also can congratulate them on social media using #SuffolkSaidYes. Or tune into Facebook Live on Suffolk’s Facebook page today at 2:30 p.m. when we welcome our newest crop of accepted students.

We have so much to celebrate at Suffolk. In fact, this is just the first of many groups of applicants that we will welcome into our University for fall 2018. You can see how we’re communicating with these students on our website for admitted students.

I look forward to seeing you at the party today, and am excited for all that we will accomplish as an institution in 2018.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:19+05:00 December 14th, 2017|0 Comments

A Poignant Gift — AIDS Memorial Quilt on Campus

I had a powerful experience today, one that I wanted to share with all of you. I had the opportunity to walk across campus with two of our students to look at – or rather to experience – three panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt that are on campus this week. I got chills.

Nathan Espinal and Joe Piemonte discuss the quilt with Acting President Marisa Kelly

Of course, I have seen pictures of the quilt over the years. I understand the tragic loss of life they represent as well as the hope that springs from the fact that communities of people have come together to contribute to a piece of art that helps the memories of their loved ones live on, even as it helps to educate all of us about AIDS and its impact on real people.

But until today I have never actually seen any of the panels in person. Being able to look at the details of each panel – the names, the photographs, the families of each lost life – and to see them towering over me magnified their impact. I guess this should not surprise me. After all, a painting hanging on the wall is always more powerful than seeing its image in a magazine or on a computer screen. But the impact still caught me off guard just a bit.

In addition, I had the privilege of viewing the panels in the company of the student responsible for bringing them here, Joseph Piemonte, president of the Queer Student Union, and the group’s incoming vice president Nathan Espinal. Seeing how much the panels meant to these two student leaders also added a dimension to my experience.

I want to thank both Joe and Nathan for that tour, but even more so for working so hard to bring the panels here to Suffolk. They have given a gift to the whole community. I hope you all have a chance to take advantage of that gift. The three panels are displayed in the lobbies of Sargent Hall, 73 Tremont St., and the Sawyer building. They will be on display until Wednesday, December 6.  I know it is a very busy time of the year, but as you hustle from one task or location to the other, I hope you will stop, look, and experience these traveling memorials.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:20+05:00 December 1st, 2017|3 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving seemed to come quickly this year. There has been so much happening over the first two and a half months of the semester, and all of us have been so busy that I’m amazed to find we’ve already hit the Thanksgiving break.

Before we go, I wanted to pause and share with you just a few things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving, starting with our wonderful Suffolk community. We are a strong community, filled with people who are committed to our important mission. Our faculty and staff work tirelessly to help ensure that our students have a transformative educational experience while they are here and ultimately have a platform from which to build their professional, personal, and community success. For that I am grateful.

And as I thought about that a bit, I was particularly struck by how grateful I am for the way in which you inspire and renew my sense of optimism daily. These have been challenging times. As a nation, we have experienced deep political divisions. And we have seen numerous tragedies nationally and around the world since the academic year began. Some of them, including natural disasters, have hit close to home, impacting family members and hometowns.

But despite those difficult events and challenges, I feel optimistic. That is because every day I see and talk with students who are deeply engaged in their learning and excited about their futures. And I see faculty and staff who support them. I hear from students who are eager to contribute not only to their personal success but also to the success of their communities, locally and around the world. Our students, like our alumni across the globe, are genuinely seeking answers to challenges in the world, and they are looking to make a positive difference.

For me, that provides a renewable stream of optimism and a bottomless cornucopia of hope.

As I spend time with my family this Thanksgiving, I will include Suffolk students on my list of things for which I am grateful because of all they will go on to do for the world. And I will include the entire Suffolk community for all that you do for this University.

I am wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of family, friends, joy, hope, and optimism. And I hope you enjoy a much deserved holiday break.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:20+05:00 November 21st, 2017|0 Comments

Fall Board Activities

October is always a busy month here at Suffolk. From Suffolk Weekend to admissions open houses there is a lot happening on campus, including a slate of Board committee meetings and the first meeting of the full Board of Trustees for this academic year, which took place just last week. Allow me to take a moment to update you on some of the highlights from the fall Board activities.

On Thursday we held the 2017 Trustee Orientation. The half-day session introduces new trustees to the basics of the institution, including organizational structure and expectations of Board members. But it also provides an opportunity for all Board members to examine and discuss key challenges and opportunities for Suffolk and for higher education today. Areas discussed included higher education business models, enrollment trends, and issues of free speech. Some of the topics easily carried over to our dinner conversation Thursday evening at the first “Board Plus” dinner of the year.

As you may recall, last fall we launched a new tradition of bringing together Trustees, members of the senior leadership team, and sometimes faculty, staff, students or alumni, at “Board Plus” dinners. These dinners have given trustees the opportunity to engage with different members of our community in discussing complex strategic issues. The subject of last Thursday’s “Board Plus” Dinner was a complex one indeed – financial aid. The goal was for all of us to better understand how we can maximize the impact of the aid we offer for the benefit of our students, and for the financial health of the University.

We don’t figure out the right tuition prices and financial aid awards by throwing darts at a board. It’s a complex calculus that aims to find the sweet spot that will help us meet student need, keep tuition as affordable as possible, hit revenue and enrollment goals and continue to invest in the quality of our educational experience. It’s not easy. Todd White, an executive consultant with the firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz, took us through scores of slides that helped us better understand where we stand vis-à-vis competitors, higher education and demographic trends, and how we might improve our enrollment yield and student retention with the right mix of financial aid. The various financial aid models that we discussed will inform our conversations as a team about the best strategy as we move forward.

Finally, at its meeting on Friday the Board heard reports from its various committees including The Audit Committee, which approved the audited financial statements for FY17; the Student Affairs Committee, which had heard presentations from the presidents of our three student government associations; the Academic Affairs Committee, which among other things presented a slate of potential honorary degree recipients; and the Finance and Administration committee, which recommended tuition, room and board, and fee rates for next academic year.

While many topics were covered over the course of the October meetings, these are the highlights. Overall it was a great set of conversations, and my thanks go to all the involved Suffolk employees, students, alumni, and trustees, for working so hard – and together – to continue to move the University forward.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:20+05:00 October 24th, 2017|0 Comments

Our Campus Is Washington?

Well, not exactly. But thanks to The Washington Center, Washington D.C. is definitely an important extension of our campus.

For those of you who are not familiar with it, The Washington Center is a non-profit that partners with colleges and universities around the nation to provide students with a study away option in D.C.  Students participate in academic seminars or spend a semester doing substantive internships at places ranging from congressional offices, to lobbying firms, to administrative agencies, and many others. The Center has introduced many of our students to policymakers, political insiders, journalists, and academics, helping them better understand the complexities of politics and public policy. Students participate in site visits, tours, lectures and special events.

These are valuable learning opportunities that are open to international students as well as domestic. Student testimonials about their experiences through The Washington Center are glowing. They are excited about what they have done and what they have learned as a result.

I had the opportunity to speak with some of these students at the Center’s annual scholarship dinner in Washington D.C. last week. Not only did I attend, along with a table of alumni and students, but Suffolk was honored and highlighted in front of the crowd of over 500 as one of the Center’s longest and most committed educational partners. The gala remarks I made helped to highlight for the crowd what we already know – that Suffolk is an outstanding institution committed to student learning inside and outside of the classroom, a commitment that extends beyond Boston and Madrid to locations across the globe, and including Washington D.C. The fact that we are one of The Washington Center’s oldest partners (we have been sending students there for nearly four decades) demonstrates that commitment.

I am excited that our students have the opportunity to spend a semester in Washington as a result of this partnership, and I am appreciative of the work the Center staff does to ensure our students have a valuable experience during their time in D.C. But this partnership and its growth over time (we have 30 students there this fall) is only this strong because of the commitment of many members of the Suffolk community who have nurtured the relationship over many years. One person in particular, Professor Emeritus John Berg, had a huge role in developing this partnership and until his recent retirement, was a key driver of its success. Thank you John for your commitment to ensuring that our students could also have the opportunity to say, “Washington is our campus.” And thank you to all the other members of our community who foster the many partnerships that help to make Suffolk so great.

 

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:39+05:00 October 13th, 2017|0 Comments

You Are Valued

As you heard me say about this time last year, it is important that you know how much Suffolk University values your hard work. A year later, I want to say that again. This is an incredible community full of dedicated faculty and staff, and we need to look for many different ways to reward you for all you do for students and for the institution as a whole.

With that in mind, I want to let you know that this fall we will once again be moving forward with a salary increase for the majority of our faculty and staff (some groups will not be eligible, for example people who have time-limited/seasonal appointments or who are on a performance improvement plan). While we continue to work on the staff benchmarking process and consider options for merit-based salary increases, we will move forward with the increase this fall using a process and parameters very similar to those used last year, and with a similar overall salary pool available. The increase will be effective the first week of November, and prior to that time you will receive a letter from your manager with more specifics.

A raise is not the only way to say thank you to Suffolk faculty and staff, but it is one important way. Thank you for your tremendous dedication, your passion, and your commitment to Suffolk.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:39+05:00 September 21st, 2017|1 Comment

Welcome Back and Welcome NESAD

Wow. It is September. That happened fast.

Whether you have been on campus working or in class, or were away for the summer, I hope you took some time to enjoy the beautiful weather and the opportunity to take an extra deep breath or two and rejuvenate.

First, a huge welcome to NESAD, which has come home! NESAD has moved from leased space on Arlington Street to the heart of campus, and we couldn’t be more excited. Completely reimagined space on four floors of the Sawyer Building is now alive with activity. New adjoining classrooms have been designed to foster interaction and innovation. Students will design on high-powered computers in multipurpose classrooms and on easels in perfectly lit studios. There are galleries, a woodshop, a materials library and a print-making studio. And there’s hardly a wall where artwork can’t be displayed.

This move will help us to better support art and design students, faculty, and staff, but also allow us to leverage the expertise and creativity of the art and design community to advance design thinking and interdisciplinary initiatives while expanding the presence of the visual arts across the Suffolk campus. The opportunities for collaboration are boundless.

As this dynamic Suffolk Experience piece about the new space shows, our art and design students “bring vision, talent, enthusiasm, and often tremendous amounts of coffee—and leave with sharpened skills, industry contacts, and portfolios bulging with work. In between they forge bonds and find community.”

We couldn’t be happier to have them in the heart of campus, and we look forward to forging stronger bonds with the entire NESAD community.

Yes, the summer flew by, and a lot has happened since we celebrated with our graduates of 2017. In June, the Board of Trustees held the last meeting of the fiscal year and in that meeting took several significant steps. New trustees were elected. The new bylaws adopted in May 2016 were revised to further improve them based on the experience of the past year and in alignment with practices of good governance. The updated bylaws have been posted on the website, along with a brief summary of significant changes.

Also in June, the chairman of the board and committee chairs were evaluated even as the board reflected on its work (and mine) over the course of last year.

In August, we signed the final agreement with INTO, creating INTO Suffolk, a pathways partnership called for in our strategic plan and designed to further advance our educational mission and our international enrollment. Next week we will welcome more than 100 INTO representatives to campus for a familiarization visit. Highlights to come.

Of course we will have both opportunities and challenges ahead, and some of our challenges will be connected to those of the nation as we work to continue to stand for inclusion, which remains at the core of who we are as an institution. But we are committed to overcoming our challenges collaboratively, and we will continue to provide an exceptional educational experience for all of our students. As we move into the new semester I look forward to connecting with as many of you as possible. I want to hear your thoughts and share mine with you so that we can move forward, continuing to all row in the same direction. I am looking forward to another great year.

 

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:39+05:00 September 6th, 2017|0 Comments

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

No, I don’t mean the holiday song made popular decades ago by Andy Williams. I am talking about right now. In the life of a university – in the life of Suffolk University – April and May are the most wonderful months of the year. This is what it is all about. Celebrating student achievement.

Next weekend we will graduate students from all three of our schools, awarding bachelor’s, master’s, JD, and PhD degrees. We exist for this moment when we launch individuals from their status as students to their status as our alumni, ready to walk down the life paths they have chosen. We are so excited to see where they all go from here, excited to watch the impact they have on their chosen professions and on their communities here in Boston, in New England, across the United States, and across the globe.

And that is only part (albeit a large part) of what makes this the most wonderful time of the year here. We are celebrating the achievements not only of those graduating, but also of a broad range of our community members. We honor student achievement among all classes at the Undergraduate Achievement Awards. We honor student leadership and engagement at the terrific dinner and ceremony put on each year by SGA. Individual academic departments hold award ceremonies. Our veterans recently hosted an impressive honor cord distribution ceremony. We will celebrate our diversity at the upcoming 1913 event, and highlight our commitment to our international students with a reception for those students and their families.

We gather our alumni to recognize special anniversaries, like the 50th reunion of the Law Review, or to celebrate the achievement of our young alumni through the annual 10 Under 10 awards ceremony.

And we gather our faculty and staff together to recognize those among us who have given so much to this University and its students, saying thank you to employees who have been here for 10, 20, 30, 40, and in one case 50 years (yes, Stuart Millner of the English department has been a member of the Suffolk community for five decades, doing an incredible job of teaching literally generations of students). After all, without the commitment of such individuals, there would be no graduations to celebrate next weekend.

People have been stopping me in the lobbies and halls of our buildings, saying I must be so tired with all of these events. The honest answer is that all of these events give me energy, and I can tell by the smiles on your faces that they do the same for all of you. We are all beaming right now because this is why we are here. This is the best time of the year.

Congratulations to all our graduates, and also to all the students, faculty, staff, and alumni whom we are celebrating this spring!

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:39+05:00 May 15th, 2017|2 Comments

Celebrating Faculty Achievement

Last week we began a new tradition here at Suffolk. The Board of Trustees on Thursday, April 13, dedicated its April “Board Plus Dinner” to celebrating faculty achievement.

More precisely, the board and the senior administrative leadership team held a dinner that included each of the newly tenured and/or promoted faculty from across the University. It was an opportunity to celebrate what each of these faculty members has achieved, to recognize their individual hard work and accomplishments, and in doing so to also honor the work of our faculty broadly speaking and their role at this University, in their professions, and in the communities we serve.

It was a great night of casual conversation and formal recognition simultaneously. And while it was the first such dinner, it will not be the last. The Board of Trustees is committed to honoring each new group of tenured and promoted faculty on an annual basis. A new tradition has been born.

While the dinner was a distinct (not to mention fun) part of the board meetings last week, there are other important actions that I want to share with the campus community. Among a range of activities and votes, one of the most important was that the board approved the FY18 budget. This budget, presented in the context of a five-year budget model, fully incorporates the funding required for the strategic plan initiatives unfolding next academic year. And for the second year in a row, it includes a budget line for salary increases that will roll out in the fall according to a still-to-be-determined process. While the salary increase pool may still not be as large as we might like, it will mark the second year in a row of increases. In addition, the board authorized us to move forward with the INTO partnership that will expand our pathways programs for international students, pending management’s final negotiations with INTO and NEASC approval.

Finally, board members also attended a Student Activities Fair that gave all trustees the opportunity to see a representation of our more than 100 clubs and organizations on campus and to connect with students in an informal way. I know the trustees, administrators, and students who attended all enjoyed the opportunity.

The faculty accomplishments that were highlighted at Thursday night’s dinner were outstanding and impressive, and the same is true for faculty and staff throughout this University. As we enter the home stretch of the academic year, I want to thank you for all that you are doing to advance this institution, and particularly for your support of our students.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:39+05:00 April 18th, 2017|0 Comments

Imágenes de Comida

Pictures of food. That is what I will remember the most. Well, more accurately, students taking pictures of food. Pictures of paella. Pictures of squid. Pictures of cheesecake.

Sebastián Royo, acting provost, and I had the privilege of leading 28 of our first-year undergraduates to Madrid for their spring break. The Gateway Program, as this is called, is designed to give students an immersive international experience that will be eye-opening and inspiring while they’re there, but also expand their perspective when they return to Boston. As part of the trip we went to the Prado, Spain’s national art museum, and saw some of the most magnificent paintings in the world. We toured Palacio de Liria, a palace and residence of the Dukes of Alba. We took walking tours of Madrid and the international historic sites of Segovia and Toledo led by Héctor Santiago, a talented professor from our Madrid campus and an expert in architecture and history. We visited the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home of the world-famous Real Madrid soccer team. We listened to a lecture on the Spanish economy. We saw an amazing flamenco show and watched Mama Mia in Spanish. (While I do not speak Spanish I have practically memorized Abba’s music, so popular when I was in high school, so I was quite happy that I could actually follow almost the entire show!)

I also had a chance to meet with our Madrid campus faculty members and staff for the first time. They are talented, dedicated, and enthusiastic. Finally, we held the first-of-its-kind Madrid campus alumni and friends reception. The room was full of energy and a desire to further engage with Suffolk.

All of it was wonderful. But it was the group meals that were the most meaningful to me. It was during those meals, where we ate together and where our students took pictures of the food as part of their record of the experience that I really got to know them. I learned so much about them, where they come from, how they grew up, their interests, and in some cases their challenges. Over those meals we shared bits of ourselves. By the end of our trip many of them expressed how impactful the experience had been for them, and why. While I know and have engaged with wonderful students here at Suffolk, I do not often get the opportunity to spend this much time with them. More than an El Greco painting or seeing and learning about a 2,000 year-old aqueduct, getting to know this group of students was for me the most memorable part of the trip. I will not offer too many details, as ultimately they were shared between individuals, not between students and their acting president. But I can tell you that they were divided on how they felt about eating rabbit and ink-soaked paella! I will never look at pictures of cheesecake – or any food, for that matter – in quite the same way again. Now, they will always make me smile and think of Madrid.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:39+05:00 March 22nd, 2017|0 Comments

We Have a Plan

As you know, since September we have been working on a two-year extension of our strategic plan. Based on input from across the Suffolk community over the past five months, we drafted a revised plan intended to guide our work through 2019. I am very pleased to report that plan was approved by the Board of Trustees at its meeting this past Friday. In other words, we have a plan: Positioning Suffolk University for the Future: 2017-2019.

Suffolk is a vibrant institution with many, many strengths, but, like most other universities, we also face significant challenges. We need to position ourselves not only to meet those challenges, but also to excel in what is a hyper-competitive higher education marketplace. In short, we don’t have the luxury of waiting or resting in place. And for that matter, we don’t want to, as this University has a history and a culture of embracing challenge and opportunity.

The revised plan is rooted in its predecessor but also moves us in new and clear directions intended to lay the foundation for our long-term success. It was developed with input from a steering committee made up of administrators representing all parts of the University and faculty members from all three schools. We met with and solicited feedback from representatives of all three student government associations as well as University trustees. We gained important insight from surveys that went to all employees and from numerous small-group feedback sessions. That input resulted in significant changes to the plan, including areas of emphasis. Here are some highlights.

This strategic plan, reorganized by major functional areas of the University, is tied directly to our annual and multi-year budget model.

The plan affirms our commitment to opportunities both at home in Boston and around the world. It calls for expanding partnerships and experiential learning opportunities in Boston that will support and benefit our students. At the same time, it puts a strong emphasis on international enrollment and recruitment as well as programs and experiences that enhance a global perspective. That includes a pilot program for four-year degrees at the Madrid campus starting next fall along with more short-term international travel programs for Boston-based students.

It calls for expanding the number of doctoral level programs that we offer and elevating our profile regionally, nationally, and globally, including through a focus on national rankings. The plan also embraces our ability to respond to student and industry needs with new degree programs and courses linked to market demand. And it underscores the importance of career outcomes and career development.

The strategic plan extension calls for broad investments in our human capital and acknowledges the financial, logistical, and facility support needed to maximize our success. And it strongly supports our teacher-scholar model.

It emphasizes many areas that are critical to our future, including enrollment, retention, diversity, fundraising, facilities, partnerships, marketing and communications, and others.

In short, the plan is designed to help us embrace challenges and opportunities ahead and excel in doing what we do best—delivering an exceptional educational experience to students from Boston, the region, the nation, and around the globe.

I am excited at the prospect of working with the campus community on plan implementation. University leaders at every level will be speaking with their teams about next steps, and I encourage all of you to read the revised plan, which may be found on the Strategic Plan website.

Beyond approving the revised strategic plan, the Board of Trustees took other important actions at its meeting last week. Bill Popeleski, an alumni trustee from the Sawyer Business School, was elected to the board as a new charter trustee (see the news story). Upon the recommendation of the appropriate dean and the acting provost, the Board took action on a range of degree and program recommendations.

And last but certainly not least, the Board of Trustees approved a slate of tenure and promotion candidates. A more detailed announcement on those appointments may be found in this week’s edition of Inside Suffolk, but I want to take this opportunity to congratulate each and every successful candidate. You have achieved a significant milestone, and Suffolk is very fortunate to count you as members of this community. I am also pleased to announce that for the first time in our history, newly tenured and promoted candidates will be invited to a celebratory dinner with the Board of Trustees in April, a dinner that we intend to make an annual event.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:39+05:00 February 16th, 2017|0 Comments

Update from the December Board of Trustees Meeting

As we approach the last few days of the fall semester, I want to give you a quick update on the second Board of Trustees meeting (and associated activities) of the year, which was held Dec. 8 and 9. While there were only a few action items on the agenda, this was a busy meeting that helped move the University forward in important ways.

In addition to two committee meetings, Thursday, Dec. 8, saw the University’s first half-day Trustee Orientation. The orientation offered board members an opportunity to learn a great deal about our structures, policies, practices, and challenges, and to learn more about the operation of the board, the bylaws, and expectations of trustees. Not only did new members of the board attend, but the majority of long-standing trustees also were present.

The orientation was followed by the second Board “Plus” Dinner of the year. The trustees, University administrators, two school alumni board presidents, and eight faculty members were in attendance. This was an opportunity for all present to engage with one another in a discussion about the draft extension of the strategic plan. From my perspective, it was a great series of conversations. As an aside, please note that the draft plan has been posted at https://sites.suffolk.edu/strategicplan/ for input from the campus community, with a series of discussion meetings to be held in January.

Finally, during a very busy full board meeting on Friday, Dec. 9, among numerous other reports and discussions, the board voted to approve an updated capital budget for FY17. And the board appointed two new trustees: Nancy Stack and Maria DiPietro. Both are going to make fantastic additions to the board. Here’s more information on our two newest trustees.

I will share another board meeting update after the February meetings.

Wishing all of you a joyous holiday season and a very happy new year.

See you in 2017,

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:40+05:00 December 20th, 2016|0 Comments

Supporting All Students, With and Without Documentation

We have recently gotten a number of questions from members of our community regarding the potential for changes in enforcement of federal immigration law and how that could impact some of our students.

I feel it’s critical that I share my views in this area, as well as some information about University practice and resources as they apply to students at Suffolk who are undocumented.

Last week, I added my name to the list of now more than 500 leaders of private and public colleges and universities who have signed a statement in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy that the Obama administration put in place in 2012. DACA allows undocumented immigrants who arrived in this country as minors to live, work, and study in the United States for renewable two year increments.

I added my name and Suffolk’s name because I believe it is important for us to make an unequivocal statement of support for undocumented students and particularly our own undocumented students who are an inextricable and valued part of our community. We believe we have many students on campus who came to this country as minors, the children of undocumented immigrants. They are now pursuing their dreams through higher education and should be allowed to do so without fear of deportation. Like all of our students, they add vitality and vibrancy to this University, and they go on to make important contributions to their communities and society.

As a matter of practice, the Suffolk University Police Department does not and will not ask our students about immigration status or share information about our students’ immigration status.

As a University, we want to be as supportive as possible of all of our students, including those who are undocumented. In the Law School, the Clinical Programs have begun discussions about how they might help provide resources, such as workshops and clinical support, to those students who may have questions or concerns. And I have asked Dean of Students Ann Coyne and Sheila Calkins, who is Suffolk’s Title IX director and oversees SUPD, to reach out to students with additional information and resources that may be helpful.

No Room for Hate

All of our students – whether they are citizens of this country, citizens of other countries or undocumented domestic residents, have a place in this University. We are a community made up of many races, gender identities, faiths, and orientations. We are a community made up of Republicans, Democrats, Green Party members, independents, and many other political persuasions. A community where students come from across the city, the region, the nation, and the globe.

Sadly, in the weeks since the 2016 presidential election, there has been an increase in hate crimes reported across the nation. I feel compelled to say that actions of hate, whether physical or verbal assaults, or other violations of the University’s Community Standards, are contrary to the principles that underpin Suffolk University and its community. On behalf of all of us, I want to state clearly and loudly that we condemn all such acts, no matter the target or their background, race, faith, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or political party affiliation. Words and acts of hatred have no place here.

I am grateful to work each day in what is an incredibly inclusive and supportive Suffolk community. Making each person feel valued and included is at the core of who we are as a University, and I am very proud to be associated with a community that puts those values into action.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:40+05:00 December 8th, 2016|6 Comments

As We Prepare to Honor Our Veterans

Tomorrow, here at Suffolk and across the United States, we will take a day away from school and work, to recognize and honor the service of our veterans. We are grateful to and proud of our more than 150 veteran and active military students here at Suffolk, as well as all members of the Suffolk community who are veterans. To all of our veterans at Suffolk and across the United States, thank you for your service.

This year, in the wake of a particularly divisive presidential election, Veterans Day to me feels especially tied to the privilege we have in this country to vote and freely express our opinions. Open and vigorous debate must continue to be the hallmark of our country and this institution. Veterans have guaranteed our right to do so, often at great personal cost, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

I am thankful that I have the right to vote and to participate in our democracy. I also recognize that this right brings with it a responsibility to engage in the democratic process, well beyond Election Day. This presidential election has served to highlight difficult issues that face our nation and the world: terrorism, social and economic inequalities, trade and globalization, ethnic and religious tensions, sexism and gender inequality; racism; regional and local disparities, and political polarization. These are challenging and emotional issues. Irrespective of our political affiliation or views of the outcome of this election, we have a responsibility to work together, to reach across the fault lines that divide us, to try to solve these challenges.

I hope you will all do so as private citizens, and I know we must do so here at Suffolk. As an institution of higher education we have a responsibility to try to address these issues and to do so in an inclusive way. We must do so in our classes and outside of them and as we talk with each other one on one or in groups. We must work to include all voices and perspectives, ensuring that all members of our community feel safe engaging in the important process of addressing our collective challenges. We will only succeed if we move forward together as an inclusive community that embraces the rich array of individuals, backgrounds, orientations, and beliefs that make up the Suffolk community and the nation as a whole.

As you take time out tomorrow to reflect on the service of veterans across the country, I hope you also will reflect on how you can help us move forward here at Suffolk as an inclusive community dedicated to working together to face our challenges. The strength of our democracy and of Suffolk will be measured by how well we continue to work through our differences to build a stronger country and institution.

 

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:40+05:00 November 10th, 2016|0 Comments

We All Share Responsibility for an Inclusive Community

Suffolk University is committed to making every member of our community feel welcomed, valued, and respected.

That commitment is real. It is more than words. I see evidence of it every day. Faculty and staff show that commitment in their daily work and in their dedication to the intellectual and personal growth of each of our students. But it’s also clear that despite that commitment, we don’t always succeed.

As you may know, one of our undergraduate students posted a blog entry last week that expressed her pain from feeling both invalidated and disrespected by a faculty member’s comments on an assignment. I sent a message to the community Friday stating that we take such concerns extremely seriously as a university. I take the concern seriously on behalf of the institution as the acting president, and I take it seriously as an individual personally committed to diversity and inclusion. The truth is that all of us here at Suffolk should be concerned about any student feeling this way.

So we must redouble efforts to create a more inclusive environment, while at the same time recognizing that everyone involved in any specific incident deserves a fair hearing.

We cannot truly live up to what we aspire to be as a university unless we foster an inclusive campus community where all of us are welcomed and valued no matter our sex, race, religion, culture, country of origin, disability status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. As individuals and as a community we can do better and need to always strive to do so. And we are not alone.  As the outpouring of support for our student this week has shown, students, faculty, and staff continue to have experiences that cause them pain and anger. Regardless of the circumstances around any particular incident, we should recognize that many members of our community do experience bias, in ways both small and large. While all of society needs to improve in this regard, as an educational institution it is imperative that we lead the way.

Knowing this, we began to increase our focus this year on issues of diversity and inclusion. We hired a new assistant director in our Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence, Dr. Heather Dwyer. She has a deep interest and experience in issues of diversity and equity in higher education and has presented nationally on teaching diverse learners in the college classroom.

And we also hired a new director of our Center for Academic Access and Opportunity. Among other things, Dr. Joyya Smith will oversee the process of reapplying for TRIO grant funding, which includes the McNair Scholars program that provides support for first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students who are interested in pursuing graduate study.

Approximately two weeks ago we distributed to all students, faculty, and staff a climate survey designed to help us better identify those areas in which we need to improve (The survey is still open so if you have not already responded, please do so before Nov. 10.) The survey will be analyzed by the Diversity Task Force, chaired by Dr. Micky Lee, associate professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism. It will inform a diversity strategic plan for 2017-2020.

We launched a three-part diversity workshop series for faculty this fall called “Leveraging Diversity and Navigating Identity.” Topics have and will include mitigating stereotype threat, teaching inclusively, and experiences of race in academia. Other open forums, talks, and initiatives have been planned. And we hired Dr. Lizette Rivera as director of Diversity Services, a critical office within our Student Affairs organization.

All of these initiatives will, I believe, help us to continue to become a more inclusive community. But last week’s incident has made clear that these steps are not enough. There is more we can do. The most immediate action we are working to organize is a microaggression training session for each academic department in the University. I have asked the Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence to work with the deans of each of our three schools to set up these sessions department by department. The training sessions will be required for all faculty at the institution over the course of this academic year, with planning and scheduling to begin immediately. Staff members will also be trained in the near future.

While these sessions will not make us perfect, it is my hope that through training and open dialog we will further foster a climate that is safe, supportive, and welcoming to all. I look forward to hearing any ideas that you may have about how we can continue to improve in this area.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:40+05:00 November 1st, 2016|6 Comments

Update from Board of Trustees Meetings

Regular updates to the campus community following Board of Trustees meetings are important. I am committed to such updates highlighting those matters addressed in board meetings that I feel would be of particular interest to the campus community.  So here it goes, update number one from the first board meeting of the academic year.

Building the Team in Support of Good Governance

Board Chair Bob Lamb and I share the goal of making Suffolk University a recognized leader in best practices in higher education governance. To do that will take a collaborative effort that includes all stakeholders – trustees, senior leadership, faculty and staff, students and alumni. On Thursday, we held the first of a regular series of in-depth conversations about complex matters affecting Suffolk. At our first Board “Plus” Dinner, members of the board and the University’s leadership team met to share a meal in the Sargent Hall function room and talk about how we can form a stronger team. Collaboration between the board and senior leadership is a critical component of good governance.

During that dinner we had the privilege of listening to a governance expert talk about what great governance looks like. Cathy Trower, author of The Practitioner’s Guide to Governance and Leadership: Building High Performing Nonprofit Boards, has provided governance consulting to more than 130 universities and other nonprofits. Her message was a valuable one: Great governance requires a culture of shared responsibility and open communication. The board and senior leadership, working in concert with the entire University community, should be talking together to define the challenges we face and the outcomes that we want, and then we should work together to achieve those outcomes. We need to have mutual accountability, and we also need to have each other’s backs.

Academic Affairs

The board’s new Academic Affairs Committee held its inaugural meeting Oct. 20. The newly established committee monitors the University’s progress in advancing our educational mission. The committee replaces three separate school-based academic affairs committees, in line with best practices in University governance. The single Academic Affairs Committee can now look at key issues and priorities in the three schools within the context of the entire University.

As an example, one key agenda item was a presentation by Acting Provost Sebastián Royo on our assessment of the core curriculum, a program that cuts across two schools and which would not have gotten sufficient attention under the old committee structure. It is important that the Academic Affairs Committee and the board understand the quality of the outcomes for our students based on these assessments.

Administration and Finance

Laura Sander, senior vice president for Administration and Finance/Treasurer and Michael Crowley, senior vice president for Enrollment, presented to the board on the budget and enrollment picture, all in preparation for multiyear budget proposals, including the budget request to be made in late spring for FY18. Looking ahead in a strategic manner is a critical element of our new focus for the University Leadership Team.

There also was a discussion of tuition and room-and-board rates for next year. Rates will be announced later in the semester.

Trusteeship

As you saw from Chairman Lamb’s message last week, the board elected two new trustees who bring great leadership experience and expertise. I’m very excited about the contributions that Trish Gannon and Larry Smith will make. Both are alumni who have shown exceptional commitment to this University. Here is a link to the University news story for anyone who missed it.

I look forward to keeping our community updated on board and leadership initiatives, and as always, I welcome any questions or input.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:40+05:00 October 25th, 2016|2 Comments

Suffolk Weekend: Please Come Help Me Brag

Next week we will be holding Suffolk Weekend — celebrating our alumni, engaging families of our current students, and speaking to potential members of next fall’s first-year class. Alumni Weekend, Family Weekend, and the first of our Admissions Open Houses are all happening at the same time, from Thursday, Oct. 13, through Sunday, Oct.16. What an exceptional opportunity!

Yes, opportunity. This is not just any gathering, but a chance to show all of these critical groups the best of Suffolk. Of course that includes our outstanding academic programs across all three schools. It includes our arts programs and athletics programs. It includes celebrating the achievements of our alumni. But perhaps most importantly, it is an opportunity for people to see what underscores all of this – the commitment of our faculty and staff to our students, the enthusiasm our students have for all that is happening on campus, and the commitment of our alumni to supporting an institution that has been an important part of their life paths.

In other words, this is an opportunity for us to come together as a campus community and brag!  I think we should do a lot more of that because we have so many great things to trumpet.

I am so proud to come to work each day, knowing how we are positively impacting our students and how we have made a difference in the lives of so many who came before them. I know that you are committed to our students, our alumni, and this institution, and ultimately that you are proud of what you do and what we do together. There are many ways to tell our story and to share it with the world. One way is to participate in Suffolk Weekend.

There also is another very important reason to participate in Suffolk Weekend: It is a whole lot of fun. Come to the Fall Fest variety show, a hit on campus for more than 40 years. Come to the barbeque and soccer game at our East Boston Athletic fields, attend a discussion of Election 16, or join us with your family at the Boston Children’s Museum on Saturday night. A full schedule of activities is online. Take a look. There is something for everyone.

We all need to be part of telling the Suffolk story. If you cannot make it, please take a moment and post an anecdote about what makes you proud to be part of the Suffolk community. I would love to draw on your stories as I engage with families, alumni, and prospective students throughout Suffolk Weekend.

I hope to see you there, and maybe we can do a little bragging together.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:40+05:00 October 6th, 2016|0 Comments

Let’s Talk about Campus Diversity and Social Justice

I can’t think of a time when it has been more important to talk about diversity, inclusion, and social justice at this University. Tragedies that continue to take place across the country involving the killing of black men – most recently in Tulsa, Okla., and Charlotte, N.C. – are  causing anguish, not just in those cities so deeply affected by the incidents, but also right here on Suffolk’s campus. The pain is particularly acute for many of our students, faculty, and staff of color, and that can be made worse by silence.

So I want to take this moment to reiterate Suffolk’s commitment to working toward a more just world, as well as a more inclusive campus environment. As a University, we need to recommit daily to doing all that we can to eliminate injustice, inequality, and all forms of racism in this country. That includes using our expertise and teaching platform to address inequity, intolerance, and violence in our society.

It is also critical that we do more to make sure that our own community is as inclusive as we aspire to be and to ensure that all members of the Suffolk community feel safe and supported.  I want to provide a few updates on some of the work being done on that front.

Diversity Task Force Open Forum

I will be speaking briefly next week at an open forum that we hope will offer an opportunity for sharing and healing. Micky Lee, associate professor in the Communication & Journalism Department, has taken over as chair of the Diversity Task Force and will provide a brief update on the work of the group and discuss support and resources. The remainder of the forum will be devoted to a training session on microaggressions and implicit bias. The session originated from students wanting to create more awareness, including amongst faculty and staff, of microaggressions, those often subtle verbal and non-verbal slights, snubs or insults, whether intentional or not, that send hostile or derogatory messages.

Faculty Forums

This year the Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence has launched a series of faculty forums on “Leveraging Diversity and Navigating Identity.” A three-part workshop will address the roles of diversity and identity in the classroom through exploration of how they can impact a student’s learning experience. The workshop series also will provide opportunities to learn more about teaching methods faculty can use to leverage diversity and promote equity in the classroom.

Climate survey

Working with the Diversity Task Force, we are preparing a climate survey, which will be sent to all Suffolk employees and students in mid-October. The goal of the survey is to determine how members of our community feel about the current climate and to what degree we are inclusive and supportive. Before we can address our challenges, we need to understand them better from the perspectives of all our constituencies.

There will be questions that examine to what degree faculty, staff, and students feel included based on disability status, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, religious beliefs, political beliefs, age, sex, gender identity/expression, socio-economic status, and veteran status. The survey results will help guide our diversity and inclusion agenda.

Finally I think it’s important that the University continue to do more to foster regular dialog around race, diversity, and inclusion. Too often it is horrible and heart-wrenching tragedies that drive our response. What can we do to be more proactive? Should we have more forums led by students? Teach-ins? What are your thoughts?

Ensuring that all of us – students, faculty, and staff – feel part of a safe and inclusive environment is core to who we are as a University. I invite you to respond with your ideas about how we best foster that environment here at Suffolk and beyond.

 

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:40+05:00 September 28th, 2016|0 Comments

The Word You Long to Hear: Raises

It’s important that faculty and staff know how much this institution values your hard work. There are many ways that we can show that, from remembering to say a simple thank you to honoring individuals with recognition awards or events.

Those are all important. But equally important (some might argue more), we need to be sure that we’re recognizing your commitment to Suffolk and your hard work with a regular system of salary increases.

After a number of years where we were unable to raise salaries, we are in a position this fall to provide a general increase for faculty and staff members, with some exceptions as noted below.

Though it will not make up for the absence of general increases in the past few years, I consider this a first step in an ongoing commitment to more predictable compensation adjustments.

The raise will be a flat amount for all eligible employees, ranging from 1 percent for the highest earners to 5.7 percent for lower earners.  We have tried to structure the pay increase in a way that uses the pool of available funds to have the most impact on employees at the lower end of the pay scale. For someone earning $35,000, the pay increase would equate to a 5.7 percent raise. An employee earning $65,000 would see an increase of 3 percent. Rising transportation, food, and utilities costs affect everyone, but we are aware that higher costs each year have the greatest impact on those who make less.

Increases will be effective Oct. 31 for hourly workers and Nov. 1 for salaried workers. Human Resources will provide the relevant information to managers across campus who in turn will be asked to communicate specifics with each employee reporting to her or him.

Increases will not apply to those who:

  • have senior management roles and employment contracts approved by the Board of Trustees
  • have received a significant pay increase since January 1, 2016
  • were hired on or after January 1, 2016
  • are on a performance improvement plan
  • are covered by a collective bargaining agreement
  • are in time-limited or intermittent/seasonal jobs

I am also a strong proponent of rewarding people who regularly go above and beyond in their job performance. While we focused this time on general increases, I hope going forward to have a process that ties regular salary increases to performance. We paused work that was being done on a redesign of the University’s compensation program in 2014 when funds for raises were unavailable. That work will restart over the winter and will be the basis for future compensation adjustments, based on equity and performance.

I’m often struck by the tremendous dedication of Suffolk faculty and staff. I want to thank you for that ongoing commitment. I realize that even though we have chosen mission-driven careers that focus on supporting students, we also work to earn a living. As mentioned, this is a first step in what I hope will be predictable salary increases going forward.

As always, I welcome your feedback through email or in the blog comment section.

 

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:40+05:00 September 21st, 2016|2 Comments

Why A Strategic Plan Matters

This is my first blog entry in what will become a regular habit. I wanted to start a President’s Blog as a way to share information and thoughts with the Suffolk community, but also as a means to further open the lines of communication. My hope is that some of these blog entries will spark feedback, input, and dialog and that the result will be an important two-way communications channel. I am committed to reading and considering all of your comments and from time to time may respond to some of them directly on the blog.

As I said in my opening remarks at the start of the academic year, I hope to engage the campus this fall in a conversation about an extension of our current strategic plan, so I thought I’d launch this blog by sharing a few thoughts on why I think having a strategic plan matters.

If you look at the five-year strategic plan created in 2012, it’s really quite amazing to see how many of the imperatives laid out in that plan we have accomplished. In fact, despite a period of well-documented challenges at the highest levels of the University, we have managed to move forward in critical areas that were outlined in that plan. Just a few examples:

  • The plan called for us to develop an integrated undergraduate curriculum for the College and the Business School. We did it.
  • It called for supporting and encouraging professional development opportunities for faculty to improve teaching and scholarship. The Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence (CTSE) has done great work in this regard, providing faculty with resources, workshops, tools, and training to enhance their teaching and scholarly work.
  • It called for making things easier and more seamless for students by redesigning registration, student accounts, and financial aid processes. We did that too. It’s all right there on the sixth floor of 73 Tremont.
  • It called for stronger support for student success. We built an entire division around that. In fact, we’re building a whole culture around it.
  • It called for creating a more integrated and cohesive Suffolk University brand – heck, we did that twice. (I can’t remember if it called for keeping our sense of humor.)

These are just a few examples of the strategic plan goals that we have accomplished. A huge amount of the credit goes to all of you for the energy, thought, and hard work you put into helping the University achieve much of what it set out to do over a five-year period. But I have to give a bit of credit to the plan itself. To cite a paraphrased exchange from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

But we actually had a destination in mind. We wanted to become a more student-centered and cohesive institution with a commitment to a teacher-scholar model and a focus on developing experiential learning and career opportunities for our students. Because we had a plan, a roadmap, a blueprint, whatever you like to call it, we got somewhere. It is remarkable what we achieved, all moving in the same direction.

This in no way suggests we achieved everything in the plan. In fact, we have a great deal still to accomplish, and there are places where we have fallen short. But we have made important progress and changed the University for the better as a result. I want to continue to do that, even in a time of transition.

As I have mentioned to many of you at recent gatherings, we have not talked a lot about the strategic plan in the last couple of years, and I want to change that. I want to engage the campus community in a fast-moving process this fall to help us develop the next iteration of the strategic plan that can take us out about two years. The first step will be to inventory everything that we have and have not accomplished in the plan. This is information that we will need for our NEASC interim report due in just under a year from now, as well as to help us develop ideas for next steps. We’ll start with a survey of the campus community to get a better sense of what you believe we have accomplished thus far and your priorities for the next two years (again within the context of the existing plan and its seven strategic imperatives). We also have a lot of data that we can draw from, and we will ask the NEASC teams working on that report to help with the inventory and then help us develop some ideas about the next iteration of the plan, drawing on the feedback we receive from all of you in your survey responses. By the end of the fall semester, I would like to have an extension of the strategic plan that can carry us through the next 18 months to two years.

This is not intended to be a brand new plan, but rather an extension of the current plan that you all worked hard to develop. A well-informed strategic plan extension will keep us moving forward. We cannot afford to hit the pause button. To the contrary, we need to make progress on our goals and a strategic planning process will help us bring those goals into better focus. It’s also critical that our strategic plan be linked to budgeting so that we have the financial resources to accomplish our goals. This is not only best practice, it is also a priority for NEASC.

Ultimately, we can only make real progress if we are all rowing in the same direction — working in an inclusive, collaborative way toward shared goals with a shared sense of purpose. And to do that, it helps to start with a plan. So I look forward to talking with you in the coming weeks about what we can do collaboratively to move the University forward and how we can improve, tweak, and extend the strategic plan for the benefit of the University and its students over the next two years.

As mentioned at the top, I welcome your input and invite you to share any thoughts. You may email me directly. Or if you prefer, we have created a blog comment section where members of the Suffolk community may log in to respond to posts, exchange ideas, offer feedback, and join the conversation.

And in the next few weeks, watch for new blog posts on our salary plan for this fall and on the work of the diversity task force.

I’m looking forward to the conversation.

By | 2022-03-25T01:54:40+05:00 September 13th, 2016|0 Comments