Kumble Subbaswamy recalls that, when he arrived at the UMass Amherst campus a dozen years ago, his first priority was to bring some needed stability to a school that had seen a number of leadership changes over the previous decade.
After that, he said, his main goals were to bring the school to a higher level in terms of national rankings, prestige, and reputation — locally, nationally, and internationally.
As he prepares to step aside in a few months and move on to next challenges and opportunities in his career, Subbaswamy, the longest-serving chancellor in the modern era at the school, talked with BusinessWest about how he believes those broad goals have been accomplished — and the manner in which they’ve been accomplished.
In a wide-ranging interview, he talked about everything from the school’s climb in the rankings, and what it means, to the challenges facing UMass and all colleges and universities today and tomorrow, to the pandemic — what it was like to lead the school through that tumultuous time, and how that period changed higher education.
He said he has a rather unique way of measuring how he fared with all that and his legacy, if you will, on the campus — the number of students, and others, who want to stop and take a selfie with him.
It’s an official measuring stick, to be sure, but one that indicates just how far this campus has come during his tenure, and how his leadership helped generate and sustain the very palpable sense of momentum at the school.