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Amherst 250 Plan

[posted June 2, 2005]

The UMass Amherst 250 plan identifies the crucial investment required to maintain the campus as a nationally competitive public research university. This campus has traditionally found its place among the top American research universities, and while the competitiveness of its faculty remains at national levels, its competitors among public flagship institutions have grown larger and stronger. This problem becomes even more acute when we recognize the decline in the number of continuing faculty in Amherst over the past decade or so and, in addition, observe the reduced investment in facilities repair and renewal that has accompanied the decline in faculty.

These circumstances bring the campus to a significant decision point. Either we will find the support to grow back to competitive size or we will need to change our mission. We have a window of between three to five years to demonstrate significant progress before a major reevaluation of our role as a significant public research university becomes unavoidable.

Although the critical element in the Amherst 250 plan is clearly the restoration of faculty strength, success in achieving our goal has a number of interrelated elements that connect to the faculty or result from the faculty restoration.

Students, undergraduate and graduate, represent not only a commitment within our mission but also a key element in defining the competitive quality of the institution. The 250 Plan anticipates restoring our faculty so that the quality and breadth of our instructional offerings can reflect the quality of our students and faculty. Although the campus will also grow some in number of students, both in and out of state, the 250 plan focuses on restoring faculty strength relative to the number of full-time equivalent students currently enrolled. One of the benefits of this plan is the opportunity it provides to diversify our faculty and become more effective in recruiting an appropriately diverse student body.

In addition to its focus on faculty restoration to improve the quality and breadth of instruction for students, the Amherst 250 plan requires the completion of the current 5-year capital plan and the initiation of the second 5-year capital plan. The renovation and renewal of instructional, research, student activity, and support space and infrastructure must accompany the restoration of faculty numbers.

Finally, as faculty numbers return to full strength, their work will require some increase in the staff support essential for effective teaching and research.

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