Accreditation Review for UMass Lowell

History of Self-Study

Since the submission of the 2008 NEASC five-year report, the University of Massachusetts Lowell has undergone a period of remarkable expansion and growth according to every index by which Universities are typically measured. In the fall of 2007 our total enrollment was 11,635; Today the enrollment exceeds 16,000 students. In the fall of 2007 the University employed 498 full-time equivalent faculty; today the University employs over 600 full-time equivalent faculty. In the fall of 2007 the University offered 52 graduate programs; Today the University offers 50 programs. In the last 5 years two new academic buildings have been completed; approximately 1100 beds have been added to our student housing, and extensive renovations have occurred throughout the physical campus. This self-study portrays a rapidly growing and changing University, a University that is working to transform long established structures, policies and procedures to better serve students, faculty and the community as it grows. 

The University’s roots can be traced back to the creation of two separate institutions in the late 1800’s, each focused on the need to prepare workers to meet the changes brought on by the industrial revolution. The Lowell Normal School, headquartered on what is now the South Campus, was formed to train teachers, while the Lowell Textile School, headquartered on what is now the North Campus, was formed to train technicians and managers for the textile industry. Over the next 75 years, both institutions evolved and transformed themselves to meet the growing needs of the region. The two schools merged in 1975 to form the University of Lowell. In 1991, led by Chancellor William T. Hogan, the University of Lowell, became the University of Massachusetts Lowell, a part of the University of Massachusetts system. In 2007 Chancellor Hogan was succeeded by the current Chancellor, Marty Meehan, who, after serving as the Commonwealth as an Assistant District Attorney, a Deputy Secretary of State, and as Representative for the 5th congressional district in the U.S. House, brought fresh energy and and a new vision to the University. In Chancellor Meehan’s words:  “Our new vision involves taking a strong research university to the next level toward wider opportunities for our students, increased engagement with our community, and heightened excellence in teaching, research and scholarship.”

In his first year, Chancellor Meehan began to implement his vision and established his leadership team. He called upon both seasoned members of UMass Lowell’s administration and faculty to provide continuity and deep understanding of the history and traditions of the University and he recruited proven leaders from other Universities to incorporate fresh approaches and ideas. Dr. Jacqueline Moloney, formerly Dean of Continuing Studies, Corporate and Distance Education, was appointed Executive Vice-Chancellor and Patricia McCafferty was appointed as Chief Public Affairs Officer. After a national search process that fully engaged the campus, the Chancellor announced the appointment of the new Provost, Dr. Ahmed Abdelal, who came to UMass Lowell from Northeastern University, where he served as Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. Since that time Joanne Yestramski, who served as as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of the University of Maine System, was appointed Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance and Edward Chiu, who served as Associate Vice President for institutional advancement at Providence College, was appointed Vice Chancellor for Advancement. In the ensuing four years, each Vice Chancellor has crafted leadership teams to build academic programs, expand facilities, and ensure secure stewardship of the university.  

In 2008 the campus leadership, led by Provost Ahmed Abdelal and Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Maloney, called the campus community together to craft a strategic plan to further articulate a vision of UMass Lowell in the year 2020 and to create a blueprint to achieve that vision. More than 200 faculty, staff and students engaged in a thoughtful and lengthy process, in which they examined all aspects of the University and identified indices and benchmarks that would allow the University to continuously measure its progress. Through this planning process, 25 strategic indicators were identified to track and evaluate success. These indicators, organized around five pillars of excellence, are known as the “report card,” and are published on the UMass Lowell website at http://www.uml.edu/2020/documents.aspx. The report card documents progress over the past five years, and identifies a five-year goal for each of the 25 indicators.