UMass Boston’s 2020 virtual Convocation ceremony was held on Thursday, Sept. 17. At 11 a.m., the ceremony began streaming on the UMass Boston Convocation Website, the UMass Boston Facebook page and the UMass Boston YouTube channel.
Emily McDermott, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, welcomed viewers to the virtual ceremony with a video of her in ceremonial robes, standing at a “University of Massachusetts” podium. McDermott introduced a video of Ashley Villard, an undergraduate music major, singing the National Anthem.
Following the video of Villard singing the National Anthem, Undergraduate Student Government President and Vice President, Janrey Javier and Jaely Pereira respectively, and Graduate Student Assembly President Jenn Pletcher spoke briefly. They introduced themselves, and welcomed students and new Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco in a variety of languages.
Javier introduced former Coordinator of the Black Student Center and current Program Assistant of the Office of Social Justice Leadership and Service, Stephanie Beauvil. Beauvil spoke to the sense of community at UMass Boston, and a meeting she had with Chancellor Suárez-Orozco.
“I can happily and honestly say that Chancellor Marcelo is going to be a wonderful addition to our UMass Boston community,” said Beauvil.
A video of Chancellor Suárez-Orozco in ceremonial robes at the podium followed. He introduced President of the University of Massachusetts, Marty Meehan.
“To the students of UMass Boston, I want you to know that we are all rooting for you, this year more than ever,” said President Meehan. “We know how many of you have already overcome challenges just to get here, and that you will continue to face even more challenges in the pursuit of your college degree. We are here to support you, most of all because we are counting on you to lead the way to a more just, fair, and healthier nation and world.”
Next, Imari K. Paris Jeffries, a member of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees and three-time graduate of UMass Boston extended a message of welcome from the Board.
Interim Provost McDermott then introduced new faculty and newly promoted faculty. She also announced Aimi Maeda as the winner of the annual John W. Ryan Award, an honor that recognizes the junior with the highest GPA at the university. Finally, Interim Provost McDermott announced Professor Kristin Murphy as the winner of the UMass Boston Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
Following Interim Provost McDermott, Chancellor Suárez-Orozco gave his Chancellor’s Address.
“Moving forward, our responsibility—your responsibility, as new members of the beacon community is significant,” said Chancellor Suárez-Orozco in his speech. “In the age of ... hate, anti-science, and anti-rationality, higher education offers precious tools for science, logic, and facts based debate.”
“As scholars, scientists, artists, humanists, and practitioners who are committed to social justice, we must reflect on our privileges and act in all that we do against the systemic racism that impacts our community and the children and families who we serve,” said Chancellor Suárez-Orozco. “We must address racism and anti-blackness and its impact on the daily lives and opportunities of all individuals of color.”
“If you are an immigrant, documented, or undocumented ... UMass Boston es su casa,” said Chancellor Suárez-Orozco. “If you are a Muslim, UMass Boston is your house. If you’re a person of color, it is your house. If you’re LGBTQ, it is your house. If you’re a native person, we know we’re in your house. We acknowledge our indigenous communities with deep respect, and we honor you.”
“Even from behind a screen, I could really feel Chancellor Suárez-Orozco’s passion for the community,” said junior Shanarah Bargan via text message. “He was going through formalities, sure, but I can also tell that he really does care about this school and I’m honestly excited to see what he does here.”
Following Chancellor Suárez-Orozco’s speech, Dr. Danielle Allen, the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, gave her keynote address.
Dr. Allen spoke to the political state of the world, a commission regarding democracy on which she and Chancellor Suárez-Orozco worked, and a report the commission released called “Our Common Purpose.”
“My hope is that you will look at this report, consider its recommendations, and think about how you can contribute to rebuilding a healthy democracy on your campus at UMass Boston,” said Dr. Allen.
Following Dr. Allen’s remarks, the “The Bare Necessities” from Disney’s The Jungle Book was performed virtually by Wylsner Bastien, Val Marroquin, and Molly Halpin.
Throughout the ceremony, the Facebook livestream had about 30 viewers, while the Youtube livestream had over 150.
To view the convocation, visit https://www.umb.edu/convocation.