Dear Colleagues,

As we start another academic year, I wanted to take a moment to welcome everyone back. I have enjoyed meeting with many of you already this month and look forward to talking with many more of you as the year progresses.

It was a busy summer at Suffolk, and I want to pass along some news on things we’ve been doing and introduce you to some new people.

Commencement Plans

We are fine-tuning the commencement schedule this year to address a number of needs, including the demand for more tickets for graduating students’ guests. Some of the first emails I received after I was appointed, even before I arrived in February, were from graduating students and parents asking if we could accommodate more family members and friends at commencement ceremonies. That wasn’t always possible in the past, given limited venue options in Boston and our commencement structure. 

This year, though, we will hold separate ceremonies for the Sawyer Business School, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Law School, all at the Bank of America Pavilion. Ceremonies for the graduate programs will no longer be held separately from their respective schools. With this schedule, each graduating student will be able to receive at least five tickets for family and friends, and some will be able to request a sixth ticket. We hope this will make it possible for students to celebrate their achievements with all their family and close friends.

  • The ceremony for Business School undergraduates and graduate students will take place on the morning of Sunday, May 19
  • Commencement for College undergraduate and graduate students will take place that Sunday afternoon
  • The Law School ceremonies will be held on Monday, May 20

Counseling & Mental Health Services

In July I asked a task force of senior administrators to review all options to enhance counseling and mental health services available to our students. The task force spent the summer researching the best ways we can provide ready access to quality and comprehensive care. As a result, we are strengthening our existing programs and making some changes to better support students – personally as well as academically.

  • The Counseling Center now reports to Student Affairs, joining with Health and Wellness Services. We are in the process of creating a more integrated model of mental health and health and wellness services. Our goal is for our on-campus unit to serve as a source of referral for all specialized services needed by students. Some of you may know that the Health and Wellness Center has, for some time, had a strong and effective partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital, one that provides both strong referral and after-hours care. We are actively engaged in conversations to ensure that mental health services, provided through the Counseling Center, have equally powerful partnerships.
  • We have implemented 24-7 on-call coverage for mental health concerns so that our students are better served on evenings and weekends.
  • More specific language has been included in the syllabi for each of the schools alerting students to the services available to them on campus.
  • We are enhancing our outreach, awareness, and suicide prevention program – to supplement our existing Students of Concern program and the SUPERS peer-education group, as well as other outreach programs.
  • Later this semester Suffolk faculty and adjuncts will undergo proactive awareness training so they are better prepared to notice and report students in distress.

We are devoted to the total wellness of our students, and we are committed to strengthening programs that will support that wellness. Faculty, staff, and fellow students have a collective responsibility in this regard.

New Faces

I am pleased to be working with three new members of the administrative team, who are with us on an interim basis: As I mentioned in an email this summer, Michael J. Bell is serving as the interim provost while we conduct a nationwide search. Mary Pat Wohlford is interim director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and Robert Sabal, a 2012-13 American Council on Education Fellow, is visiting us this year from Emerson College.

Many of you already have met Michael, who joined Suffolk in July as interim provost after serving in a similar position at Merrimack College. We expect to have a provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs in place by the end of spring semester 2013. In the meantime, Michael has assumed the duties of chief academic officer, responsible for all academic and student services units.

With the beginning of the academic year, Mary Pat Wohlford became interim director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. She had been executive vice president for research and institutional effectiveness and professor of Health Policy and Management at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. I look forward to working with Mary Pat as she develops Suffolk’s organizational infrastructure to further support research activities and research centers.

We also welcome visiting fellow Robert Sabal, associate professor of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College, who requested that our university host him for a mentorship experience geared to academics transitioning into higher education leadership. He will work closely with Vice President Danielle Manning, Interim Provost Bell, and me on a variety of projects. The University believes in “learning by doing” not only for students, but also for leaders, so Rob will be engaged in important projects such as implementation of the strategic plan.

Scrambled Breakfasts

Beginning this fall and for the rest of the academic year, I will be holding simple, weekly breakfast gatherings on campus with faculty and staff to meet as many of you as possible and to hear from you directly about what we can do to make Suffolk a better place for those who work here, as well as for those who study here. We will be randomly scrambling names for invitations, and I hope to see as many of you as possible at one of these events. These will be continued next year to ensure we reach everyone. Stay tuned for further details.

It’s been gratifying to see the great enthusiasm among faculty, administrators and staff as we begin anew. My wish for you is that the coming year will be intellectually stimulating and academically rewarding as we all work together for the benefit of our students and the University as a whole.

It’s been gratifying to see the great enthusiasm among faculty, administrators, and staff as we begin anew. My wish for you is that the coming year will be intellectually stimulating and academically rewarding as we all work together for the benefit of our students and the University as a whole.


James McCarthy