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Highlights from Commencement and MTA Meetings


Dear Colleague,

Grades have been submitted, Commencement done and now we can think of warm days, sunshine, and beach reading.  

We want to send you off on summer break with some joy.  This past academic year has not been easy – masks on, masks off, student absences, late assignments and zoom meetings - through it all you persevered.   Somedays were harder than others.  

Last Friday we celebrated our students at Commencement.  Both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies were filled with joy – students celebrated as they walked across the stage and family members cheered (some with ear piercing whistles).  Smiles and hugs were everywhere.   We should be proud of our role in getting students to this day.  

The two student speakers gave personal and powerful speeches that embody the UMB student. The John F Kennedy award winner, MG Xiong, speech embraced community, inventing hope, and fostering belonging. The Philosophy and Public Policy major, a first-generation college student urged their classmates to remember they are human beings and not human doings and to at once be thankful but also to ask hard questions about what deserves a future. (1:39:00

Graduate student Courtney Humphries, PhD in Environmental Science, story is like many, she came to UMB for a career change and found a place that nurtured yet challenged her.  (1:32 ) 

In addition, the ceremony celebrated our colleagues who received the 2021 and 2022 teaching, scholarship, and service awards. Congratulations to Helen Poynton, Associate Professor of Molecular Ecotoxicology and Senior Lecturer Laurel Wainwright, Department of Psychology as the recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.  The Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Scholarship were awarded to Professor Christopher Fuchs, Department of Physics and Professor Mark Warren, Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs.   

Senior Lecturer II Tony Van Der Meer and Visiting Professor Keith Jones, both of Africana Studies jointly received the 2021 Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Service. The 2022 award winner was Associate Professor of French Pratima Prasad.   Each nominated and recognized by fellow faculty, exemplify commitment and dedication.  

(video 1:12 to 1:32  

While relaxing, take a moment to watch the Commencement video clips and relish in your role in such a meaningful day.  Celebrate your students and colleagues and know that even on our most challenging days, what we do is important, and shapes lives.  

In other news……..Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) update 

At the MTA Annual Meeting of Delegates, Max Page, professor of architecture at UMass Amherst was elected MTA president.  

The MTA is asking members to join in the June 11 March for Our Lives Rally.  Gather at 11:30AM at 20 Ashburton Place (MTA Boston Office) to walk together to the rally.  

The MTA is supporting the Fair Share Amendment which is a ballot question on the November 8th general election ballot.   For more information go to .   


Caroline Coscia                                 Jeff Melnick

FSU President                                   FSU Vice President

Senior Lecturer II                              Professor

Political Science                                American Studies

For information on the FSU, links to our contract and bargaining updates, and a calendar of events, see the FSU webpage