The social upheaval of the 1960s ushered in lasting change across the country, prompted, in part, by major civil rights and anti-poverty legislation, a record number of students seeking college degrees, and the expansion of land-grant public universities into urban centers. Guided by an idealism and ambition characteristic of the time, the University of Massachusetts Boston held its first classes in 1965. In a city that prided itself on being the birthplace of American public education but remained the exclusive preserve of private universities, UMass Boston’s founders set their sights on creating “a great public urban university” that would “stand with the city” and provide students of all ethnicities, ages, and social classes with opportunities “equal to the best.”
Richly illustrated and enlivened by reminiscences and profiles, UMass Boston at 50 tells the remarkable coming-of-age story of an institution that has consistently defied the odds, risen to the occasion, and served tens of thousands of students, from Vietnam veterans to students with roots in more than 150 countries. The university that opened in a half-renovated gas company building in downtown Boston now enjoys a reputation for wide-ranging, innovative research and service and holds steadfastly to its mission and its teaching soul. UMass Boston at 50 also tells of the university’s ambitious plans to become the preeminent student-centered urban public university of the twenty-first century.