SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Deval L. Patrick on Thursday, May 1 announced $5.2 million in funding to complete the construction and furnishings for the new UMass Center at Springfield.
The grant, which is funded through the current fiscal year capital plan, will help UMass ensure completion of construction in time for the fall 2014 semester.
"Today's announcement of funding is great news for Springfield and the entire University of Massachusetts system,” Patrick said. "This new Center will provide vital education and skills training resources in downtown Springfield, and open up new educational and job opportunities for the residents of Springfield and beyond."
"The funding that Governor Patrick announced today dramatically strengthens the new UMass Center at Springfield, which is not only an educational collaboration but also an economic initiative, a downtown revitalization initiative, while at its core an investment in people's lives and their futures,'' said UMass President Robert L. Caret. "It is consistent with what Governor Patrick has always been about and what the University of Massachusetts is about, which is providing opportunities for the citizens of the Commonwealth to realize their potential.''
In November, Patrick announced that UMass selected Tower Square, an office tower owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., to house the center. The 26,000 square-foot facility is at the heart of Springfield's downtown district and is two blocks from City Hall and the MassMutual Center. The new center will significantly expand the university's presence in western Massachusetts and unlock a range of degree opportunities to students of all ages that will be tailored to the meet the region's workforce needs.
“Skilled workers, especially in growing industries like IT and advanced manufacturing, are critical to Springfield’s economic development,” said state Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki. “The new UMass Center at Springfield will partner with MassMutual, Baystate Health Systems and Springfield residents to expand opportunity in the city.”
The center will be comprised of 10 large, instructional rooms, including three nursing classrooms, one computer lab, two conference rooms, seven small meeting rooms, and space for student counseling and public events and meetings.
Caret and Chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees Henry Thomas committed to open the center with classes offered by faculty from the four undergraduate UMass campuses, in partnership with Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College, among other institutions.
"We're thrilled to be part of helping to make the UMass Center at Springfield a reality, as we view it as a key contributor to economic growth in the region," said Chairman, President and CEO of MassMutual Roger Crandall. "Having such a renowned institution as UMass establish a presence in the city is a great way for businesses to tap into potential future talent, which will enable both the city and business community to grow and become stronger together."
The UMass Center at Springfield is scheduled to fully open at the end of August, in time for the fall 2014 semester. There will be 40 course offerings across 10 academic programs, including: nursing, education, liberal arts, masters of business administration, cyber security/network security, landscape architecture and planning, architecture, addiction counseling, University Without Walls (a bachelor's degree program for nontraditional learners) and seven training programs offered by the community colleges. The university has already opened a Welcome Center on the first floor of Tower Square where prospective students can find information about the fall courses.