A wonderful day for Springfield and UMass…the satellite campus has finally opened with over 300 students and 28 course offerings. In addition, the ‘Univ.Without Walls” and the UMass Urban Education Institute is located there as well. Further, we have a robust nursing program as part of the academic offerings.
This “only” took about 40 years to happen, and now it will be part of Springfield’s landscape for another 140 years, plus! Thanks to all who made it happen!!!
The opening of the University of Massachusetts satellite, heralded by Gov. Deval Patrick this week, is great news for Springfield.
In and of itself, the opening of the 26,000-square-foot UMassCenter downtown as an offshoot of the flagship Amherst campus, the educational opportunities and the economic boost it brings to Springfield all hold immediate and future promise and not just for the young people whose lives will be touched, changed and transformed by the presence of the downtown campus.
What’s even more exciting is the promise this presence holds for Springfield, for the University of Massachusetts and for the region as a whole – particularly if the university, the state Legislature, the city and the region’s financial heavy hitters can pull together around a common shared vision for the future.
Credit is due to UMass Board Chairman Henry Thomas III, under whose leadership this project comes to fruition. It’s no coincidence. Thomas has long been a champion of and for Springfield, a city he cares deeply about as the president and CEO of the Springfield Urban League and a lifetime city resident.
Thomas is a graduate of two private institutions of higher education in Springfield: American International College and Western New England School of Law. He was appointed by Patrick to chair the UMass board of trustees in 2012.
UMass has also achieved some impressive milestones in his tenure. Specifically:
- Two tuition and fee freezes made possible by a $100 million funding increase from the state; Student enrollment in the five-campus system reaching an all-time high: more than 73,000 students as of this fall;
- The university’s endowment reaching a record $757 million as of June 30, 2014 … total funds raised in fiscal year 2014 coming in just under $117 million, and UMass adding a record 21,360 new donors in 2013-2014;
- UMass-Amherst being named a “Top Producer of Fulbright Students” with a record 14 students recognized with scholarship grants from the 2014-2015 Fulbright U.S. Student Program;
- U.S. News and World Report ranking UMass Amherst among the nation’s top 30 public universities in 2015, moving up 10 spots up in rankings in a single year;
- And for a fifth consecutive year, UMass Amherst being among the 100 Best Values in Public Colleges compiled by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.
With UMass as part of the mix, Springfield’s downtown has the potential to elevate the level of learning, the vibrancy of the business community, the excitement level and enthusiasm for Main Street and the city.
Increased opportunities for young people will translate into a stepping stone out of the cycle of poverty for both the students and their families.
And the foothold for Springfield of UMass holds untold opportunities for partnerships in the future.
Today, UMass has a Springfield satellite; tomorrow, we hope UMass will become a major presence on Main Street and beyond.