Amherst 250 Plan
Achieving the Amherst 250 Plan
The plan summarized here represents a major challenge to everyone interested in the campus and recognizes that its achievement will test the commitment of faculty, students, staff, legislators, governor, alumni, and friends. These challenges are clear in the discussion that follows because the 250 Plan alone does not suffice to meet the competition that characterizes America’s top public research universities. To succeed, we will need not only the increased state revenue of the 250 Plan but also an exceptional focus by faculty and staff on helping increase revenue to the campus from all sources.
Revenue for all of the investments required by this plan will come from the same sources that every other major public research university identifies. The core investment comes from the state and the students. The state must commit to an additional investment in this campus that will allow an expansion of the faculty by 250 over the next three to five years. This commitment underlies the rest of the financial plan. The students have already made their commitment by accepting dramatically increased required fees imposed during the state financial crises of recent years. Our required fees now put us close to the top of the marketplace, and while some growth may be possible, our plan anticipates no more than inflationary increases in required fees. With the commitment of the state to faculty restoration and the continued commitment of the students, the Amherst 250 Plan has a foundation for success.
The achievement of this plan also requires growth in the campus’ externally funded portfolio of research and other activities. External funding expands the value of the investment in faculty. One of the key indicators of institutional competitiveness is the success of its faculty in securing federal research dollars and other funding for research and creative activity. Growth of the campus research base constitutes an essential part of the total revenue increase that will leverage the 250 Plan’s state investment. The campus capital plan includes an investment in new and renovated research facilities. The expectations for research performance depend on the specific disciplines involved, but the plan will identify appropriate comparators to ensure that the investment in faculty results in nationally competitive research performance.
The restoration of faculty positions will also have an impact on the teaching programs, although in this instance we anticipate a dramatic improvement in the quality of the instructional programs, currently under great stress from the budget declines of recent years. Improvement will take several forms: better access to regular faculty; greater availability of smaller classes; and increased opportunities for undergraduate students to participate directly in research programs, one of the unique strengths of a flagship research university. We will measure our progress as an institution in improving instructional quality through comparisons with other public research universities across several dimensions: student “engagement” with faculty and curriculum; distribution of class sizes, and course contact with regular faculty; and student success in moving through the curriculum. We will also monitor the post graduation performance of students in standardized tests for law, medicine, business, or graduate school to assess the value added by a UMass Amherst education.
No major public research university succeeds without a professional, volunteer driven, fundraising organization. Annual giving, capital gifts, and endowment earnings provide another essential element that leverages the state investment in the Amherst 250 plan. The financial structure for our success requires a fundraising campaign in the $350 million dollar range over the next seven years. The campaign total will depend in part on the state's continuation of matching programs for capital construction and endowments, but most of all it will depend on the commitment of alumni and friends to this plan.
The campus also earns significant income by extending its expertise into new markets through continuing education, outreach, and the commercialization of intellectual property. This 250 Plan anticipates sustained growth of net revenue from these sources for investment in achieving its goals.