Opening Enrollment At UMass Springfield Exceeds Officials' Expectations
University of Massachusetts officials say they are pleased with the initial enrollment at the system’s first satellite campus. They say it bodes well for the future of the new UMass Center at Springfield. Governor Deval Patrick led officials today at a grand opening ceremony.
Governor Patrick, who was a key supporter of establishing the first UMass satellite campus in downtown Springfield, described it as a sign of hope at a time when the gap between rich and poor in Massachusetts is widening.
" So you can imagine how my heart was lifted when I pulled up outside and saw the sign for UMass in downtown Springfield."
Patrick celebrated the grand opening of the new higher education center with about 200 people including UMass officials, faculty, students, and Springfield government and community leaders. Classes started three weeks ago.
Patrick, last May, announced $5.2 million of state funding to help build the new campus which consists of 10 classrooms occupying 26,000 square feet on the second floor of the Tower Square office building on Main Street. He said the center will bring vitality to downtown Springfield and open new educational opportunities.
"Having public higher ed along side private higher ed in downtown Springfield is both a tangable and symbolic sign of a hopeful future," said Patrick.
UMass President Robert Caret said the initial enrollment of 300 exceeded expectations.
" We are very pleased. I think it bodes well for the future."
Caret said a number of Springfield residents who had been enrolled at the flagship Amherst campus transferred to the new satellite campus to save commuting costs.
The UMass satellite campus partnered with Springfield Technical Community College and Holyoke Community College to offer students from the two-year schools a pathway to earning a four-year degree.
UMass board of trustees chairman and Springfield native Henry Thomas said the satellite center’s launch was successful because many of the courses being offered were tailored to meet the needs of local employers.
Nursing and business management are the most popular of the two dozen courses currently being offered. All five of the UMass campuses are contributing programs to the Springfield satellite campus.
UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said the new center shortens, figuratively, the distance between Springfield and Amherst.
" It makes it possible to use this new infrastructure to bring more of the benefits of the research university to Springfield, whether it is to help change the outcome of the public schools, or working more closely with the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Center, and various other initiatives we have going."
UMass has announced plans to open a second satellite campus in downtown Boston in January 2016.