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Salem State: Looking Back on 2021

The year 2021 was filled with many important moments and special occasions at Salem State. We continued our mission to provide the best student-centered education while adapting to keep our students safe during the pandemic.

This year, we are grateful to our Viking community for their commitment to learning, inclusivity and student success. Take a look at some of the most popular stories from Salem State in 2021:

Freezing Undergraduate Tuition and Fees

At the beginning of 2021, Salem State announced that all tuition and mandatory fees, as well as single housing and dining fees, would remain the same for both in-state and out-of-state undergraduate residential and commuting students. Read more: Salem State University Freezes Undergraduate Tuition and Fees for 2021-22 Academic Year.

Salem State Hosts First Vaccinations

While we are now receiving our COVID-19 booster shots, not long ago we received our first vaccines. Our Counseling and Health Services team and the faculty and students in the Salem State School of Nursing, acted quickly to transform the O’Keefe Center into a vaccination site in April 2021. Viking Amanda Castagna '21, a student in our accelerated second-degree bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN) program, administered President Keenan’s COVID-19 vaccine.

A Special Proposal on Campus

Some moments from 2021 remind us of the lifelong, special relationships that develop right on our campus. Read this special story about music and dance alumna Angelina Benitez surprising her partner, fellow alumna Rebecca Lang, with an engagement proposal under the cherry blossom trees in front of Sullivan.

Commencement Celebrations

In May 2021, we hosted both virtual and in-person celebrations for both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021. View photos of the Class of 2020 celebrations and the Class of 2021 celebrations, and check out this fun story about a father and son who both graduated from Salem State in May 2021!

Celebrating Diversity and Solidarity

In 2021, Salem State held a series of events to recognize and celebrate the richness and diversity on our campus and community.

In January, the 31st Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation and Keynote hosted activist, author, scholar and leader Angela Davis. The keynote was followed by a series of talks, workshops, films and events for Black History Month, with the theme Black Lives STILL Matter.

Salem State also held celebrations and events to recognize Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with the theme Stop AAPI Hate, as well as Latinx Heritage Month in September and October.

The university also created the new Center for Justice and Liberation, home to LGBTQ+ and multicultural programs at Salem State.

Faculty Research

This year, our incredible faculty continued to produce scholarship, research and creative projects all while adapting to new ways and modes of teaching during the pandemic. Our Center for Research and Creative Activities (CRCA) supports and promotes the scholarly work of faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students. Read through the CRCA faculty scholarship spotlights in 2021.

Donations and Grants Support Salem State Students and Research

In 2021, Salem State received generous donations and grants to support future student success and research – including the largest cash donation in the history of the university. In February, alumna Kim Gassett-Schiller ’83, ’18H and her husband, Philip Schiller, contributed $6 million to the university. The amount represented the largest cash gift ever made to one of the Commonwealth’s nine state universities.

A philanthropic gift of $500,000 made by Jean ’71 and Rick Walsh of Harvard, Mass., in 2021 supports undergraduate student scholarships through the Walsh Family Award and provides unrestricted funds for emerging university priorities supporting student success. 

This fall, Salem State received a $3 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the creation of the Digital Ethnic Futures Consortium (DEFCon), a national network of regional public universities that traditionally serve underrepresented student populations.

In December 2021, Salem State received a grant of $300,000 from Mass General Brigham that will support students in healthcare studies, occupational therapy and social work programs who are completing behavioral health internships and fieldwork in Massachusetts.

Vikings Celebrate Athletic Milestones

The long-awaited return of Viking athletics yielded big wins in 2021, including two championships, six playoff appearances, two Vikings selected All-Region, three Vikings selected Conference Players of the Year, two Conference Rookies of the Year, 18 Vikings selected All-Conference, and two MASCAC Coaches of the Year! Catch up on this year's athletics news and find winter schedules on our athletics site.

Central Campus Becomes the Nancy D. Harrington Campus

In September, we honored President Emerita Nancy D. Harrington through the renaming of the former Central Campus. Thanks to the leadership of President Harrington and others, land used as an industrial site was transformed into the hub we now know as the Nancy D. Harrington Campus. President Emerita Harrington ’60, ’63G, ’10H was the first woman, first alumna and first Salem resident to serve as president of Salem State. Read more in the Boston Globe.

Salem State Leads in Sustainability

Over the past year, our university continued to create new opportunities for students to learn about sustainability and engage in sustainable practices.

The Salem State sustainability team held another successful Earth Days series this year, with panels, films and a research poster competition that engaged more than 1,400 people. Salem State also supported the growing interest in sustainability education on our campus: Over the past year, the Salem State geography and sustainability department saw an explosion of new offerings in climate-related classes.

More sustainable transportation options were introduced at Salem State in 2021, including the installation of two BlueBikes stations to make biking around our campus and city easier. Salem was also recently recognized as a bike-friendly city and extended the bike path that runs through our central Harrington Campus. Students can now walk or bike to Marblehead and downtown Salem on a newly-paved, off-road path.

This month, Salem State received the 2021 Lead by Example Award for our collaborative efforts to study strategies to eliminate fossil fuels on our campus by 2050 or sooner.

Civic Engagement 

In 2021, the Center for Civic Engagement at Salem State received another Gold Excellence rating in the Student Voter Engagement ALL IN Campus Challenge for our 2020 student voting rate of 68.1%.

CCE expanded the offerings of the Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics, providing scholarships to allow students to participate in internships and learn about civic engagement opportunities in the Greater Salem area. The center hosted “Advocacy Week” in the spring of 2021, with a series of advocacy education, exploration, and action. Later in the year, Salem State students also played a major role in organizing the Salem mayoral debates

We look forward to seeing what achievements and news the year 2022 will bring to Salem State!

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