Photo Credit: Michael Calamonici
Amid the blue ambient lighting, jazz music, and clanking plates of Moloney Hall, students and staff alike got to experience what Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney enjoys the most: connecting directly with students.
Organized by UMass Lowell’s Student Government Association and interviewed by Vice President Jesse Kruszka, Moloney answered questions pitched by students on the school’s social media pages. Moloney, who says she has done many of these events already, said she saw the event as a “direct line to students.”
After graduating from UMass Lowell in 1975 with a Bachelor’s in Education, Moloney went on to do various forms of social work throughout greater Lowell, including college prep at Lawrence High School and the resettlement of refugees, before working in admissions at UMass Lowell. Moloney was named UMass Lowell Chancellor in August 2015, the first female chancellor in the school’s history, and was inaugurated Thursday. Over the course of an hour, the Chancellor answered questions about her college education, her work in Lowell and the surrounding towns, and her part in UMass Lowell’s community leading up to becoming Chancellor in August 2015. When asked about her role in the current state of the school, she says, “We’re making 30 year decisions. We’re trying to get it right.”
The main focus of the night was on the ever changing state of UMass Lowell. “We’re growing the University. We’ve grown over 50 percent,” said Moloney. Having realized the school had not added a new building to the campus since the 1980s, the school has completed the construction of 10 new buildings since 2010 under Moloney’s “2020 Plan” including the most recent Innovation Hub. She feels that, by improving the school’s facilities, infrastructure, and transportation, that we will “engage the community.”
Future construction, she said, will include a new student union building, a new dining building on South Campus, which is already underway, and the Pod Project on North Campus. Recent construction in the past decade, such as University Crossing, has shown buildings with more ecologically sound features, greater accessibility and, in the case of the Pod Project, an extension upon existing infrastructure.
Another pressing issue is a lack of financial aid. Moloney claimed that the state currently supports only 24 percent of the school’s funding, whereas in the past it was 80 percent. Despite this, the cost to attend UMass Lowell, which is adjusted based on inflation, has remained the same in the past 30 years. Moloney claims that in order to offset this she is working to increase auxiliary revenue the school makes from sources other than student tuition, to help offset prices for students.
Questions posed by members of the audience were predominately from heads and representatives of students clubs. Some asked about the lack of funding for international students, while others were concerned about the lack of campus accessibility for disabled students. After responding to the questions with more detail about infrastructure improvements and specific scholarships for international students, the Chancellor said, “We need you here…you enrich the campus.”
Kruszka joked that Moloney’s predecessor, Martin Meehan, coined the phrase, “We’re in an upward trajectory,” during his time as Chancellor. “What is your phrase, Chancellor Moloney?” Kruszka asked.
“The best years are yet to come,” said Moloney.