NEW BEDFORD — If Wednesday’s Emerging Leaders event at the Whaling Museum demonstrated one thing, it is that skilled and determined leaders can find very fertile ground for establishing themselves in SouthCoast.

The proceedings were of two kinds: the ninth annual Emerging Leaders program and a tribute to another leader, retired UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Dr. Jean F. MacCormack, who five years after leaving office has as much civic involvement as she did when she held that job.

The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Award, named after the New Bedford native son and Qualcomm co-founder and his wife, went to MacCormack after a committee of The Standard-Times and the Community Foundation examined a strong set of candidates. MacCormack’s extensive resume and legacy of accomplishment demonstrated the depth of her involvement in the community, the kind of determination that is reflected in the career of the former chancellor.

In introducing MacCormack, Standard-Times Editor Beth Perdue remarked on how MacCormack’s tenure unfolded.

“When she came to Dartmouth, something extra wonderful happened. Here was a region that offered a rich environment ready for academic and economic growth, that combined beautiful natural settings, great creativity and drive, with longstanding poverty and educational achievement gaps.

“It was an environment that raised memories of her own upbringing in Dorchester and more than that, needed her and her skills," Perdue said.

MacCormack, for her part, paid tribute to the Emerging Leaders, five of whom received special recognition. She examined the qualities that make good leaders, and how they need to go about building collaborations to pursue a vision for the future.

“There are no Lone Ranger leaders,” she said.

MacCormack let others extol the success of the university during her time there, the community building and increased connectivity that has been so key in one project after another — the UMass Law School, the building of an arts campus in New Bedford, campus housing, community involvement and creation of a research campus of national importance.

Perdue said, MacCormack’s arrival “was the beginning of a relationship that led to university and regional economic growth, stronger connections between the academic institution and the community, and increased collaboration on meeting regional challenges.

“The SouthCoast became more than a place Jean worked. It became home.”

The capacity crowd in the Whaling Museum auditorium greeted her with standing ovations, and at times it seemed like she had never left the campus she ran for 13 years.

In her talk, MacCormack also reflected on the things a leader must have: confidence and competence, for example, and “a thick skin.” And, doing the right thing, she added.

Her upbringing in Dorchester formed an outlook that served her well as she ascended every ladder to the next level. “Don’t be afraid to think big,” she said. "Anything is possible.”

MacCormack took note that the field of Emerging Leaders included 10 men and 16 women. “Keep it up,” she told her audience.

A panel representing various players in SouthCoast convened a series of small group interviews to better evaluate the 26, who came from all sorts of backgrounds pursuing admirable and ambitious careers.

The five selected for special recognition were: Jeremiah Hernandez, 36, executive director, Entrepreneurship for All SouthCoast; Amy Ferreira, 30, co-owner and practice manager, Village Veterinary Hospital Inc.; Crystal Lister, 34, business owner/personal trainer at Healthy Bites Meal Prep; Jeffrey Pelletier, 30, president, Junior Achievement of Southern Massachusetts and Kherri-Lynn Rego, 28, program director at Spine Surgery and Orthopedic/Spine Nurse Navigator at Saint Anne’s Hospital.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT