Voices From Our Students, Alumni, and Supporters

RESD Students

  • “One of the meetings that I considered quite revealing was the one held on Thursday, February 25th. There have been several others both before and after that meeting. But I thought that one in particular gave students more than food-for-thought. At that meeting, the Chancellor, Provost, Vice Provost and Dean sat at the head table – as it were, and made their case for wanting to dismantle RESD. Even though that was supposed to be one of the elaborate student-inclusive meetings on the proposal to dismantle RESD, it was, in my opinion, very much an ‘information session’ of decision[s] that appeared already made and, as if to make it appear democratic, students were called, not so much to be heard from but rather to be told what would be.”
    • Soloman Babajide
  • “I first found out about the program from a professor I admired. He championed the program, convincing me that there was no other school in the country offering the same combination of a rich diversity of membership and scholarship.”
    • Matthew Hopkins, current student.
  • “I still think the research assistantship is a valuable experience, and more importantly, a core competitiveness of the RESD program over its numerous national competitors.”
    • Yin Li, current student. Yin is working as a Research Assistant at the research project Financial Institutions for Innovation and Development funded by the Ford Foundation.
  • “I hope future RESD students can enjoy the excellent learning and living atmosphere as me.”
    • Shan Lu, current student. Shan is a Research Assistant for Bill Mass, working on the Open Indicators Consortium Project.
  • “I would not have joined RESD ,if it was not for the Faculty. The uniqueness of the program is built on the human resources. It is faculty, their teachings, their experiences and their relationship with the students. The current structure is conducive to it. If you remove this structure, the cohesiveness- the glue that holds the faculty-student trust/relationship will be lost.”
    • Amit Mattoo, current student, Engineer for a global telecom company in MA.
  • “Our Department is unique in its ability to match student talent and interest with needs in the community. Our professors are engaged and connected throughout the community, and work very closely with the students…With the dismantling of RESD as a department, these connections within our community, between faculty and students, students and community, faculty and community, will be weakened and, I believe, eventually lost. Especially in this economic climate, this will be a great loss for the students and the community, and the University will lose a great deal of the unique social capital that the RESD Department has worked so hard to build.”
    • Chuck Melchin, current student, Community Development Fellow, Lawrence Community Works. Chuck is researching microfinance for rural farmers in Peru, his research interests are in community development in the US and developing nations, especially Latin America.
  • “The role of a strong department such as RESD in a public university should be recognized and reconsidered if University of Massachusetts Lowell really means to ‘support the development of sustainable communities through its teaching, research, scholarship and engagement’ as spelled out in its mission statement.”
    • Saisih Nawnkhar, current student.
  • “I believe the decision to eliminate the department that supports the degree will ultimately undermine the degree itself.  I believe the administration’s unwillingness to recognize the obvious downside associated with dismantling the department completely undermines their argument.  With a proper back-and-forth involving all parties, there was an opportunity to improve the program.  That opportunity was lost through the crude, dictatorial way in which the decision was made.”
    • Josh Sweeney, current student, Internet sales consultant.
  • “I realized that RESD had a very unique and harmonious atmosphere. I don’t know how RESD’s prestigious reputation abroad could continue without such a department.”
    • Yue Tang, current student.
  • “We have been told by the Provost, Vice Provost, and Dean of the school that RESD will be bigger and better and the students will be provided with more resources than ever. However, they have not been able to back up their claims with proof of these resources that we are promised. Their proposed plan lacks any structure designed to capture resources and tangible incentives to promote faculty retention. Instead we have been promised more computers and we have been told there are intrinsic rewards like ‘happiness’ that are enough incentive for faculty to want to juggle the responsibilities of teaching in and coordinating the RESD program and fulfilling the departmental responsibilities of their respective separate departments.”
    • Emily Vidrine, current student, Research Assistant at Center for Family, Work & Community. Emily helps build curriculum and teach an after school youth-based program designed to expose urban, low income middle-school youth to nanotechnology and ensure they develop the information technology skills required to be part of the nanotechnology revolution.
  • “I myself am an international student, and I came here specifically for this department, to work with the present faculty, within the existing structure. If our faculty loses its ability to define the vision and curriculum of the program in our department, I will consider coming to UMass-Lowell one of the worst decisions I have ever made.”
    • Anonymous RESD student.


  • “The dismantling of RESD as an independent and multidisciplinary department at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell would represent a tremendous setback in view of the enormous prestige gained by the institution over the last years. Its connections with other disciplines (not just the social sciences) make RESD a unique environment that is highly regarded in other academic institutions in places like Mexico or the United Kingdom”
    • Jose-Luis Alvarez-Galvan, RESD class of 2005, Doctoral Candidate at London School of Economics and Political Science. Jose has been a teaching assistant for the last three years in the Department of Sociology at the LSE and recently worked as a part-time lecturer at Brunel University (also in London).
  • “These changes will not result in a new and improved RESD program, RESD will be left a shell of its former self, and it will be gutted of everything that makes it the unique and powerful program that it is.”
    • Yovani Baez, RESD class of 2006, Real Estate Project Manager at Lawrence Community Works.
  • “To say the department will be stronger splintered throughout different University departments is mind-boggling and disingenuous.”
    • Danielle Banks, class of 2007, Financial Education Coordinator –Action for Boston Community Development, Department of Asset Development; Juris Doctor Candidate-Massachusetts School of Law 2013. Danielle teaches Metro-Boston residents under 200% of the federal poverty level how to budget, repair their credit, and try to help them become bankable.
  • “I have always considered the university as a place of integrity, diplomacy and as a community that fosters these in the quest for intellectual excellence and scholarship. The process to dismantle RESD and the university administration’s actions to date reflect none of these qualities.”
    • Christina Bermingham, RESD class of 2007, Ph.D. Candidate, Dublin City University & National University of Ireland Maynooth.
  • “A university that shuts down a thriving department, which successfully funds its own research, brings to my mind fears that decisions are made for political logic and not in accordance to academic standards.”
    • Shiri Breznitz, Assistant Professor, School of Public Policy at Georgia Institute of Technology
  • “The RESD M.A. education has served me exceptionally well in our New England region as the community has become more concerned about the health of the natural environment, and businesses and other organizations strive to adopt and highlight ‘Green’ practices.”
    • Isa B. Cann, RESD alumnus, Founder of MediaArchitects.org. Media Architects.org is a business that serves small and medium profit and non-profit organizations with an array of website design, and other marketing/business development services, founded in the theories and practices of Sustainable Development
  • “I have a high regard for what RESD has accomplished and know that in terms of time and effort the existence of the Department is critical to what RESD has achieved and what the program can continue to achieve. In order improve, focus and expand, I believe it must have autonomy..”
    • Jim Elliott, Director of Advanced Technology, Nypro Inc.
  • “In my opinion, the close cooperation among professors in designing the curriculum and doing the dynamic daily work of teaching, research, grant-writing and networking depends on there being a department, with its own decision-making structure, behind the program, and this essential ingredient will be lost if professors have scattered duties in far-flung departments and little daily contact with each other. The existence of this department has breathed life into, and provided focus and continuity in many of the University’s research and outreach ‘centers’, and if the department is converted into a center itself, it will no longer be able to serve as this kind of ‘glue’.”
    • Jim Giddings, RESD alumnus, UMass Lowell staff. Jim is on the staff of the Open Indicators Consortium, based at UML, where he works with numerous RESD students and faculty members on a regular basis.
  • “I went into the RESD program solely focusing on the social aspects of regional development, however through the unique interdisciplinary approaches implemented by RESD staff; I have become enlightened and developed new passions for areas of study that I would have otherwise dismissed.”
    • Marie Hovis, RESD class of 2009.
  • “The RESD program offers something that UML centers, however worthy, cannot: an integration between study and application, between teaching and research that is rare even in interdisciplinary studies programs. And it is this that has made RESD a magnet for faculty talent. When such factors are taken into consideration, RESD possesses an enviable ‘return on investment’.”
    • Eric Martin, RESD alumnus.
  • “I say this from my heart that the future dismantlement of RESD hurts me seriously, not only because of the break down of a mechanism I see working very well for students, but because of the process it has been carried out, in which, RESD students’ desires and concerns have hardly been taken into account in the decision making process.”
    • Minh Pham, RESD class of 2010, Reporter in Vietnam.
  • “I truly believe that the Regional, Economic and Social Development department is a facet to the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Graduates of the department, as well as current students, have a high rate of community engagement, are innovative and dynamic, all of which are not only encouraged by faculty, but activities that are often motivated by stellar group of individuals we have the honor of calling our professors.”
    • Amy Provencal, RESD class of 2009, Labor Market Analyst at the State of New Hampshire.
  • “RESD is about democracy. It provided students like me, who had high aspirations and little money, with the high-quality graduate education we needed to succeed in public policy and other career tracks. It’s unfortunate that future students will not have the opportunity I had.”
    • Barbara Rocha, RESD class of 2005, Foreign Affairs Officer at State Department, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
  • “The questions that RESD students are exploring using a multi-disciplinary framework are the very ones that companies, governments, and civil society globally are facing right now. What we actually need is more RESD research and more RESD graduates, not less.”
    • Susan Roe, RESD alumnus, Manager at Corporate Accountability Program, Ceres. Ceres (www.ceres.org) is an organization working on corporate sustainability issues.
  • “The proposal has more holes than Swiss cheese and is being pushed through so hastily that the strengths of RESD are at risk of being destroyed. Though members of the administration have met with students on a few occasions, none of our concerns have been seriously taken into account.”
    • Jennifer Russell, RESD class of 2010. During her first year at RESD, Jennifer worked on parent involvement with GEAR UP, igniting her interest in education. She later wrote her thesis on the barriers to parent involvement at Lowell High School. During her second year, Jennifer collaborated with faculty and students from Work Environment, Community and Social Psychology, and Nursing, on a study on the health of workers in select long term care facilities throughout New England.
  • “As many of us are research assistants, we not only gain but also apply the knowledge and relevant skills. This is a classic called ‘learning by doing’ but interestingly it is usually not the case, as organizational problems are always prevalent in any organization. RESD is a successful example to overcome this problem as an integrated department capable of instructing, orienting and motivating simultaneously.”
    • Mustafa Erdem Sakinc, RESD class of 2009, Doctoral Candidate at University Montesquieu Bordeaux IV, France.
  • “RESD helped to develop my researching abilities and my sensitivity to and compassion for the individuals I serve. It taught me the importance of understanding complex social issues through a variety of lenses – the importance of which cannot be overstated.”
    • Ruth Tarbox. Asst. Director of Planning and Program Development at the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council Inc.
  • “I only wish I had been able to avail myself of the RESD experience earlier in my lifetime of work. It clearly will address (would have addressed?) the real world, long-term, and most likely varied career needs of today’s grads. RESD provides that academic diversity more than any of the alternatives offered by the administration involved in this proposed change.”
    • Dan Toomey, Senior, Former State Legislator, State Labor Commissioner, Elected Union Official.
  • “I strongly believe that this decision will cause irreparable damages to the program and to the university’s prestige in various ways because the success of this program heavily relies on the fact that each and every single faculty remained independent from the main discipline of their study. This fact had contributed enormously to the innovative and effective thinking of “development” phenomenon in the regional context among researchers from various disciplines such as economics, geography, history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and many others at this department.”
    • Oner Tulum, RESD class of 2007. Research Fellow, National University of Ireland Galway
  • “Worked with young girls, partnering with UNICEF as a peer educator to teach about gender related issues, HIV risks and trying as much as I could to be as open and friendly as RESD had been to me.”
    • Mana Wambebe-Abah, RESD class of 2003, former employee of UNICEF.
  • “the research capability of the RESD faculty members was so superior that they were able to secure every student real-life research projects and funding to work as a Research Assistant. The rich experience in assisting these outstanding scholars in academic research further developed my analytical stills, leadership skills, and management skills in multi-cultural environments, and prepared for my later success in the world’s sixth largest company based on revenue.”
    • Hao Xie, RESD class of 2003, Manager at Chevron; Co-founder of ChinaAnalysis.com.
  • “The skills and theories I learned from RESD can be perfectly applied in my daily work life. And I am always very proud to introduce RESD to my coworkers and project founders.”
    • Yue Zhang, RESD alumnus, Florida International University
  • “RESD felt like a small company or an organization, not isolated, but agglomerated with others similar research institutes, and especially the city”
    • Anonymous RESD alumnus.

Friends of RESD

  • “As a professor of management and employment relations at the ILR School at Cornell, I have regularly relied on the research of the RESD faculty because they have provided a coherent approach to development that emphasizes the links between public and private resources, between government policies and the capabilities of firms to innovate and compete in the global economy. Business programs alone don’t do that…  In the current economic crisis, where creative solutions to development and employment have been slow to emerge, RESD stands out as the kind of program we need now more than ever.”
    • Rosemary Batt, Alice H. Cook Professor of Women and Work, ILR School, Cornell University.
  • “The investment being made in emerging technologies in engineering and science must be complemented by research and teaching strengths in the social sciences; RESD is the best instrument to achieve this goal”
    • Michael Best, Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Lowell and Fellow, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
  • “As the Commonwealth continues to work its way out of recession, focusing on regional economic development should be a high priority for all of our universities, but particularly our public institutions”
    • Barry Bluestone, Dean, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Director, Dukakis Centre for Urban and Regional Policy.
  • “RESD is a very successful regional development program, whose success is directly attributable to the community of scholars comprising the Department that currently runs it”
    • Robert Buchele, Professor of Economics, Smith College.
  • “RESD had been an integral part of my advising to students. It seemed the kind of graduate education that could lead these bright and dedicated students into solid jobs within New England in two short years of exciting learning—just right for people whose interest in economics is connected with a love of their community”
    • Marie Christine Duggan, Associate Professor of Economics Keene State College.
  • “…building on our ongoing relationship, we have had over the past year extensive discussion with Lazonick about funding opportunities for US-France academic exchanges for which GREThA and RESD could apply. Lazonick has assured us that he has every intention of continuing his collaborations with GREThA in one way or another. But he has also told us that with the loss of RESD he will lack the coherent academic base at UMass Lowell that can make these collaborations successful.”
    • Claude Dupuy and Yannick Lung’s joint letter. Claude Dupuy, Professor of Economics, Head of GREThA team “Space and Industry”. Yannick Lung, Professor of Economics and Director of GREThA, University of Bordeaux
  • “As a Dean at another public research university I know only too well the challenges of today’s difficult budget environment. But it is in just such difficult economic times when Department’s like RESD, which focus on creative applied research that helps stimulate new approaches to job creation and regional development, are so desperately needed”
    • David Finegold, Dean School of Management and Labor Relations, The State University of New Jersey.
  • “It is my opinion that RESD is a world leading research centre in its area and contains some of the world’s leading scholars on the differing aspects pertaining to the interdisciplinary nature of economic development phenomenon. I know that from an Irish context we have greatly valued the collaborative experience with RESD and I personally have learned a great deal from my experiences with RESD”
    • Will Geoghegan, Researcher, Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) and National University of Ireland, Galway.
  • “Our undergraduate economics program generates graduate school bound students who in many cases are looking to find the tools to help develop Maine. No other master’s program in New England does this better than RESD. I have had many students go to RESD, have a truly exciting experience, and get useful careers out of their education there.”
    • Michael Hillard, Professor of Economics, University of South Maine.
  • “I have read the evidence on the arguments for the closure of the department, and I can say that your decision makes no sense to me. It is a course of action that will damage the reputation of the University of Massachusetts, and will certainly make it very difficult for you to attract and retain international scholars like Lazonick.”
    • Ulrich Jürgens, Professor of Management, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin fuer Sozialforschung (WZB)
  • “Unfortunately, my judgment about Chancellor Meehan seems to have been incorrect. Apparently he does not understand the importance of RESD, the standard bearer for a Lowell model of regional sustainable development, and is intent on dismantling the department. UMass Lowell has been a pathsetter for what President Obama has indicated is essential for the country– green technologies, responsible social and economic strategies, community–‐university partnerships. It is a mystery to me why a former leader of the Congressional Caucus on Sustainable Development would take such action.”
    • Charles Levenstein, Professor Emeritus of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • “I cannot understand why you would eliminate a department that has been so successful, and in opposition to people like Prof. Lazonick and his colleagues who have given the University of Massachusetts Lowell a reputation for original and excellent research here in Germany..”
    • Inge Lippert, InterCase Innovationsforschung und Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB)
  • “RESD’s work contributes in important and significant ways to fundamental discussions about regional economic development, industrial change and transformation and competitiveness. Dissolving the department would destroy a well established and important institution and it will do great harm to the reputation and success of the University of Massachusetts.”
    • Heike Mayer, Professor of Economic Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • “I really cannot understand why you would want to alienate some of your most distinguished faculty members when you could be taking advantage of their hard work and dedication to enhance the reputation of your university.”
    • Tea Petrin, Professor of Economics and Entrepreneurship and Chair of the Entrepreneurship department and Senator, Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana
  • “At a time that regional development issues are coming to the forefront, this outstanding program needs to be maintained, not dissolved.”
    • Karen Polenske, Peter de Florez Professor of Regional Political Economy, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • “I am puzzled and dismayed by the direction the university has taken, especially the dismantling of a department that attracted interesting, smart students, had great faculty, and did inspiring and useful work.”
    • Beth Rosenberg, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health & Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine
  • “I understand that the Meehan administration is arguing that UMass Lowell’s regional development program will be bigger and better without RESD. As Dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Information and Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning, this argument does not make sense to me. I understand the type of organizational structure that it takes to enable a committed group of scholars to build an innovative interdisciplinary program. RESD is UMass Lowell’s regional development program. How can you expect to retain the vitality of this program without respecting the talent and dedication of RESD’s faculty?”
    • AnnaLee Saxenian, Dean & Professor, School of Information and Professor, Department of City & Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley
  • “With all due respect, what are you folks thinking!? RESD is a jewel in UMASS Lowell’s crown. Why would you want to eliminate it? RESD is an active, interdisciplinary, policy-focused program that engages with and contributes to the regional economy. It is led by internationally recognized faculty that are head and shoulders above their peers…their success winning awards from the NSF and from other external sources reflects this. RESD provides UMASS students with a unique opportunity to both learn from and contribute to their communities. The move to cut one of the best programs at the University is extremely puzzling and more than a little disturbing.”
    • Timothy Sturgeon, Senior Research Affiliate, Industrial Performance Center (IPC), MIT
  • “While the administration has stated that the Masters’ program will continue, the loss of a core of faculty members who have created a consistent curriculum, but equally important, a community for it students, will be a great loss for the quality of the program, and likely will impact its ability to attract students.”
    • Susan Willing, Director, Labor Extension Program, University of Massachusetts Lowell

RESD Student Life

  1. Marianne Pelletier
    June 12th, 2010 at 16:30 | #1

    Dismantling RESD is a step backwards. I especially valued the multi-disciplinary approach the department offered. When researching graduate schools, I looked at law schools, MSW programs, and women’s studies. When I found RESD, I discovered what I really wanted….a multi-disciplined approach of learning about the world. This department is sorely needed in our present precarious world.

  2. June 24th, 2010 at 11:48 | #2

    As a professor in the UMass system, I have valued the role RESD faculty have played in creating interdisciplinary workshops and seminars focused on technological change, regional development, and sustainability. It is important to respect and support the institution-building that makes interdisciplinarity possible and productive.

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