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Welcome to UMass Amherst! You probably have lots of questions. Here are answers to many questions that have come up in previous years, but please let us know if we can help you with additional things that arise. We are here to make your transition to UMass faculty as smooth and seamless as possible. Feel free to contact us at

Three things you will want to make sure that you’ve taken care of are:

  • RSVP to the New Faculty Orientation Program – this year’s NFO will be held on Monday, August 29. New Faculty Orientation will introduce you to UMass and various campus resources that are intended to support your teaching, research, and life-work balance. The Institute for Teaching Excellence & Faculty Development) hosts this event (TEFD; pronounced as “tef-dee'). You should expect to receive your invitation by email in mid-June. See below for more information.

  • Activate your NetID. Your NetID allows you to access many campus resources, including email, Moodle and Blackboard Learn (our Course Management Systems), the Libraries, and SPIRE (our Student Information System), which includes your course rosters, allows you to request a Moodle course Web site, and many other services). See below for more information.

  • Confirm that you are signed up for the New Employee Orientation. The New Employee orientation, sponsored by the Office of Human Resources, focuses on payroll and benefits. You’ll be provided with information about your benefits, and given time to complete all paperwork to ensure that you’ll be paid in a timely manner as well access your benefits. Your department's personnel coordinator will register you for the orientation. Check with your department to confirm when you are scheduled to attend orientation. See below for more information. See below for more information.


  • The 2016 New Faculty Orientation will be held Monday, August 29 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

  • NFO is co-sponsored by the Provost’s Office and TEFD, and is open to new tenure-system faculty members and full-time (100%) lecturers/instructors. We will send you an invitation with complete instructions in mid-to-late June. If you have any questions, please contact us at

  • In addition to the campus-wide orientation, many departments and some schools/colleges sponsor orientation events for their new faculty. Ask your department chair or departmental administrator if such programming exists.


The Technology Checklist for New Faculty provides an introduction to Information Technology on campus.

Your NetID and password give you access to SPIRE (Student Information System), Moodle and Blackboard Learn (Learning Management Systems), email, library resources, free and discounted software, Internet access, and much more. If you have not yet received your NetID, please contact the IT Help Center (413-545-9400, or in person at A109 LGRC (Lederle Graduate Research Center low-rise).

If your official hiring paperwork has not been processed yet, your department personnel coordinator can arrange for a NENS (Non-Employee, Non-Student) account which will provide you earlier access.

Once You Have your NetID

Log in to SPIRE, the University's Student Information System. You will use SPIRE to manage your personal information, post basic course information (e.g., required textbooks), access class rosters, and submit grades. You can also request a Moodle course website or a class email list. If you are teaching in the upcoming semester, check to be sure that your courses are listed in your Faculty Center.

Once you have your NetID you can also:

  • Get your UCard (campus ID). The UCard Office is in 168 Whitmore Administrative Building (M-F, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.) UCard Information


New Employee Orientations are held every Tuesday, and additional sessions are offered throughout August and September. Once you’ve been registered, Human Resources will send a confirmation including the location of the session. The Human Resources website has additional information, or you can reach them at 413-545-4549.

Parking for New Employee Orientation
If you do not already have parking on campus (see information on parking below), you can park at a meter or in the parking garage. Metered parking is available at the Visitor’s Center and in Haggis Mall (the “horseshoe” next to Whitmore, the main administration building where the orientation sessions are usually held). Metered parking is $0.25 per 10 minutes. Make sure that you allow plenty of time to get to your orientation session – the spots listed above could be as much as a 15-minute walk to Whitmore. Campus Parking Map

What to Bring to New Employee Orientation In order for you to be entered into the human resources system (and get paid!) you’ll need to fill out a number of forms. Make sure that you bring the appropriate documents to your New Employee Orientation session. 

INS I-9 form 

U.S. Citizens and Residents

  • U.S. Passport or 
  • Driver’s license AND social security card or U.S. birth certificate 

International Citizens

  • Unexpired passport with I-94 card and I-20 or DS-2019 AND
  • Visa and a list of dates of entry to and exit from the United States

Social Security Card (current)
The Human Resources Office is required to match an employee’s name with what appears is on the employee’s social security card. If you don’t have a current card you will need to get a new one. A list of local Social Security offices is available at the Human Resources Employee Service Counter (325 Whitmore Administration Building) or on-line through the Social Security Administration.

Voided Check or Deposit Slip
UMass has direct deposit for all employees. To set up direct deposit you’ll need to provide a bank routing number and an account number (most easily found on a voided check or deposit slip.) The direct deposit form is available at orientation or at the Human Resources Information Counter.

Health & Life Insurance 
The Commonwealth offers a number of health insurance plans through the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission (“GIC”). More information about each plan is available at GIC Employee Benefit Decision Guide.

  • Adding your spouse to your health and/or dental insurance plan. Bring a copy of your marriage certificate. You will also need your spouse’s social security number, address, and telephone number.
  • Adding dependent children to your health and/or dental insurance plan.
    A birth certificate or adoption certificate will be required for each dependent child. Please bring the social security number (if applicable), address, and telephone number(s) for each dependent.

Health insurance is effective the first day of the month following 60 days of benefited employment. Dental insurance is effective the first day of the month following 6 months of benefited employment. If you have coverage through your current place of employment, you may wish to consider temporarily extending it through COBRA until your coverage with UMass Amherst becomes effective.

Newly benefited employees may apply to the GIC in order to purchase health insurance coverage during the waiting period if the cost of the premium (100% of the GIC premium, not the lower employee rate) is less than the medical expenses that will be covered and incurred during the waiting period. For example, new employees might elect to do this if they (or a family member) are diagnosed with a severe illness during the waiting period.

New employees may also wish to purchase an individual policy (e.g., a policy with a high deductible and lower premium) in order to protect themselves and their families in the case of severe illness/injury during the waiting period. Insurance is a state-regulated industry in Massachusetts, and lists of providers are available online.

Bring the name, address, and telephone numbers of your emergency contacts. Also, consider bringing your cell phone, in the event you need to consult with your spouse, partner, accountant, and/or physician.

Submit completed paperwork at the Human Resources Employee Service Center in the Whitmore Administration Building, Room 325, which is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Questions About Your Benefits

Incoming faculty with questions about their benefits are encouraged to contact one of the benefits specialists listed below in the Human Resources Office.

Employee Assistance Program / ComPsych

UMass Amherst has contracted with ComPsych, a provider of employee assistance services. ComPsych provides free, confidential support in many areas, including areas that may be of interest to new faculty such as: qualified referrals for child and elder care, moving and relocation, real estate transactions, and more. For more information Employee Assistance Program / ComPsych Guidance Resources



For International Scholars

The International Programs Office serves as a resource to all international students and scholars. They offer advice on immigration matters and issue visa documents. They also provide information and guidance on issues such as employment, health insurance, language courses, programs for spouses, and general information about UMass and the Amherst area.

Choosing Where to Live

Many UMass faculty live in Amherst itself; others choose to live in nearby towns. Some tools that you can use to find housing:

  • Off Campus Student Services provides a searchable database of house, condo, and apartment rentals and sales
  • Other possibilities include rentals through and, a listing of short- and long-term rentals and housing swap opportunities.

Registering to Vote

Welcome to Massachusetts: A Primer on Bay State Basics has information for new residents, including establishing residency in the state, registering to vote, and learning about state taxes.



Public Transportation

The Pioneer Valley has a well-developed public transportation system; PVTA (Pioneer Valley Transit Authority), services the UMass Amherst campus and several nearby communities.

Getting a Massachusetts Drivers' License

If you’ve moved from out-of-state, contact a branch office of the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles (the closest branch offices are in Easthampton, Greenfield, Holyoke, & Springfield) for instructions on obtaining a Massachusetts driver’s license. When you visit your local branch office, be sure to bring (1) your Social Security Card or a current U.S. or non-U.S. passport; and (2) your out-of-state license.

Registering your Car

Instructions on registering your car can be found on the State web page. Prior to registering your car in Massachusetts, you’ll need to secure a Massachusetts auto insurance policy. Because auto insurance is regulated differently in Massachusetts than in many states, you may find that your current insurance carrier does not service this area. Local insurance agencies can be found in the paper or online Yellow Pages and the State maintains an auto insurance premium comparison file for carriers in Massachusetts.

Parking On Campus

The Parking Office is open Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., and has two locations: 51 Forestry Way and Level Two of the Campus Center Parking Garage.

You must bring your driver’s license and car registration.

Prior to visiting the office, you may wish to view the online interactive parking guide (viewed by scrolling down to the bottom of the Parking Office’s homepage) to familiarize yourself with parking on campus. Be prepared; many lots, particularly small or centrally located lots, are full. If this happens, the Parking staff will most likely put you on a waiting list and give you short-term status elsewhere.

UMass Commuter Options

Visit UMass Amherst Commuter Options for details on carpool and rideshare options, clean vehicle permits, emergency ride home, and the bicycle commute program.



Office Keys

In order to get keys for your building and/or office, make sure your department administrative staff has completed and submitted a Physical Plant key request for you. You’ll be notified when the key is ready to be picked up, which you must do in person (i.e., you can’t send someone on your behalf). Bring your driver’s license or UCard for identification.

Resources to Support Life/Work Balance

For a list of personal and family resources, including information about tuition waivers, adoption, stopping the "tenure clock," dual-career couples, and more, visit our Work/Life page

Resources to Support and Promote Diversity

UMass Amherst is committed to building a diverse campus community of faculty, staff, and students. Below are some of the many programs, initiatives, and organizations that support and encourage our diverse community.

You can also read the University’s Diversity Strategic Plan submitted in Spring 2015.

Faculty Governance

The Faculty Senate is a representative body that is responsible for faculty participation in university planning and governance. The Senate has numerous standing and ad hoc councils and committees whose members include faculty members, staff, and administrators, as well as undergraduate and graduate students. Faculty membership on councils and committees is open to all faculty members, not only elected Senators, and full Senate meetings are open to the public.

The Massachusetts Society of Professors (“MSP”) is a local union affiliated with the Massachusetts Teachers Association (“MTA”) at the state level and with the National Education Association at the national level. The labor union provides security and stability for faculty and librarians, and assures them a voice in the operation of the University. All faculty and librarians are covered by the contract negotiated between the MSP and the University, and MSP members are available to answer questions about the benefits of membership.

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