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Kumble Subbaswamy installed as UMass chancellor

  • President of UMass Robert L. Caret puts a medallion on new Chancellor of UMass Kumble Subbaswamy, Saturday, during Subbaswamy's inauguration at UMass.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    President of UMass Robert L. Caret puts a medallion on new Chancellor of UMass Kumble Subbaswamy, Saturday, during Subbaswamy's inauguration at UMass.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kumble Subbaswamy was inaugurated as Chancellor, Saturday, in the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Kumble Subbaswamy was inaugurated as Chancellor, Saturday, in the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mala Subbaswamy, left, and Apurva Subbaswamy, second from left, wife and daughter of Kumble Subbaswamy, attended the inauguration, Saturday, in the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Mala Subbaswamy, left, and Apurva Subbaswamy, second from left, wife and daughter of Kumble Subbaswamy, attended the inauguration, Saturday, in the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Stanley C. Rosenberg, Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate, speaks, Saturday, at the inauguration of Kumble Subbaswamy as Chancellor of UMass Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Stanley C. Rosenberg, Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate, speaks, Saturday, at the inauguration of Kumble Subbaswamy as Chancellor of UMass Amherst.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kumble Subbaswamy makes a speech, Saturday, during his inauguration as Chancellor of UMass Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Kumble Subbaswamy makes a speech, Saturday, during his inauguration as Chancellor of UMass Amherst.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Henry M. Thomas III, Chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, left, new Chancellor of UMass Kumble Subbaswamy and President of UMass Robert L. Caret pose for a portrait, Saturday, after Subbaswamy was sworn in.<br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Henry M. Thomas III, Chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, left, new Chancellor of UMass Kumble Subbaswamy and President of UMass Robert L. Caret pose for a portrait, Saturday, after Subbaswamy was sworn in.
    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Henry M. Thomas III, Chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, left, President of UMass Robert L. Caret and new Chancellor of UMass Kumble Subbaswamy walk into the Mullins Center, Saturday, during Subbaswamy's inauguration.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Henry M. Thomas III, Chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, left, President of UMass Robert L. Caret and new Chancellor of UMass Kumble Subbaswamy walk into the Mullins Center, Saturday, during Subbaswamy's inauguration.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • President of UMass Robert L. Caret puts a medallion on new Chancellor of UMass Kumble Subbaswamy, Saturday, during Subbaswamy's inauguration at UMass.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Kumble Subbaswamy was inaugurated as Chancellor, Saturday, in the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Mala Subbaswamy, left, and Apurva Subbaswamy, second from left, wife and daughter of Kumble Subbaswamy, attended the inauguration, Saturday, in the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Stanley C. Rosenberg, Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate, speaks, Saturday, at the inauguration of Kumble Subbaswamy as Chancellor of UMass Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Kumble Subbaswamy makes a speech, Saturday, during his inauguration as Chancellor of UMass Amherst.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Henry M. Thomas III, Chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, left, new Chancellor of UMass Kumble Subbaswamy and President of UMass Robert L. Caret pose for a portrait, Saturday, after Subbaswamy was sworn in.<br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Henry M. Thomas III, Chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, left, President of UMass Robert L. Caret and new Chancellor of UMass Kumble Subbaswamy walk into the Mullins Center, Saturday, during Subbaswamy's inauguration.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

The celebration was part of Founders Week, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the university’s flagship campus.

After the UMass band, seated in a soft glow of light to the left of the stage, played a number of introductory pieces, a lone trumpeter played as dozens of dignitaries from UMass and other schools filed in, bedecked in black scholarly gowns draped with purple, blue and red sashes and tasseled mortarboards. As they slowly filled the two long rows alongside the podium, colorful flags from each school at UMass followed like a procession of ship sails.

“It’s a great day for the campus, a day made more meaningful as the kickoff of the 150th anniversary,” said UMass President Robert L. Caret in his opening remarks to the approximately 175 spectators. He went on to praise the new chancellor, the 11th for the flagship campus and the 30th leader since the founding of the Massachusetts Agricultural College. Subbaswamy has held the position since last July 1.

“Swami came to the U.S. from India with little money in his pocket but obviously with hopes and dreams,” Caret said of the physics scholar who came to UMass after eight years as provost at the University of Kentucky.

“Instead of walling off the campus, he’s worked to strengthen relations both on and off campus. One of his first actions as chancellor was to meet with student leaders,” said Caret, referring as many speakers did to Subbaswamy’s humility and accessible leadership style.

Next to speak before the towering velvet drapes stitched with a gilded UMass logo was Henry M. Thomas III, chairman of the UMass board of trustees, who described Subbaswamy as “both cerebral and personal” with a “glittering” resume and a “genuine warmth that inspires others.”

“We jokingly said we wanted someone who could walk on water and who knew how to swim,” said Thomas. “We knew we had the right person. I’m proud to say everything — everything — we have seen since, has reinforced our choice that he’s the right one to move the flagship university forward.”

Students were represented through Ashkay Kapoor, the immediate past president of the Student Government Association, who described the new chancellor as “one of the most remarkable people I have met here at UMass.”

Speaking of his anxiety at his first meeting with the chancellor, Kapoor was quickly disarmed by the new leader’s warmth and openness. “He didn’t come off as a professor or an administrator,”said Kapoor. “He came off as a friend, someone I could relate to.”

Ron Grasso, president of the UMass Alumni Association, said he was impressed with Subbaswamy’s preparedness and commitment to his work. In his role on the search committee, Grasso remembered Subbaswamy walking into the room with a pad and paper in hand with a long list of his own questions about UMass.

“He flipped the switch. He was asking us the questions,” Grasso said. “It was a sign of things to come. He is always prepared in meetings with pen and paper. He is a tremendous listener because he cares.”

State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, the majority leader who graduated from UMass in 1977, shared a story about his meeting with Subbaswamy in Boston shortly after he began his work as chancellor last summer. As the chancellor was heading out the door, Rosenberg said to him, “Oh, one more thing.”

“I could see the tension come into his shoulder and back and I knew he’d been briefed about me,” said Rosenberg. “I asked him to raise his right hand and I said, ‘Please say after me: I promise I’ll stay here at least 10 years.’ ” Rosenberg said they shook on it and he ended his comments Saturday with “Stay Swami! Go UMass!”

There was some comic relief during the investiture ceremony when the official medallion — a large chain with 30 silver discs, each with a former chancellor’s name engraved on it — was lowered over the new chancellor’s head.

“We’re having a little trouble with the jewelry,” Thomas joked as he and Caret struggled with the clasp on the heavy chain. Subbaswamy, who stood patiently through the fuss, quipped, “We will stay here as long as it takes.”

Continuing to show his good humor, Subbaswamy opened with, “You said you were looking for someone who could walk on water and also swim. One out of two ain’t bad. I can’t swim!”

Subbaswamy thanked those who made his place here possible, including his mother who did not finish high school but who encouraged him to follow his dreams, and his wife, Mala, “who came into my life when I was adrift, became my anchor and supported my endeavors unconditionally.” He also thanked his children for “sharing your dad with his work.”

Subbaswamy went on to praise UMass as the “quintessential public research university” where teaching and public service come together, describing it as “clearly among the best public research universities in the nation.”

Despite this, he also acknowledged how in the past, UMass has not received the recognition that public research universities in other states have enjoyed.

“I am happy to report that is changing,” he said, citing 36,200 applicants for 4,600 freshman spots this year — “a record high.”

Subbaswamy outlined some of the goals of a strategic planning process he recently led, including an ambitious fundraising campaign to help meet them called “UMass Rising Campaign.” His confidence that those goals could be met in tough economic times rested in large part on the attitude of UMass and its students, referring to the saying that the “Ph.D.” awarded to UMass doctoral students refers to “prepared, hungry and driven. The same can be said about the institution as a whole.”

In his concluding remarks, Subbaswamy returned to his roots in India and the teachings of Hinduism that will guide him as he leads UMass. Quoting the Bhagavad Gita in Sanskrit, he translated for his English-speaking listeners, “It is only through unselfish action that we can fulfill our destiny.“ And then, “Thank you, and go UMass!”

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University of Massachusetts announces new capital campaign

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

AMHERST — A $300 million capital campaign timed to the 150th anniversary of the founding of the University of Massachusetts launched publicly Sunday. The initiative, dubbed “UMass Rising,” would be the largest in the history of the university, expected to easily outpace the $130 million campaign that concluded in 2001. Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said in a statement that the best …

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