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2020 Wrapped: UMass in the News

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Gradient background with pink text that reads "2020 Wrapped: UMass in the News;" UMass Amherst logo at the bottom

On March 13th, 2020, an email was sent to inform University of Massachussets students that they would not be invited to return to campus after spring break. This would mark the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the quarantine, and the abrupt transition to remote learning. While this past year has come with many challenges and setbacks, it can be worthwhile to reflect on the good things that have happened. Let’s wrap the year up with a look at UMass Amherst’s wins of the year! 

  • UMass Amherst placed 26th among the 146 public universites  ranked by U.S. News and World Report last year. Various factors were considered for this placement, including graduation rate, academic reputation, faculty and financial resources, alumni giving and student selectivity. The university’s overall U.S. News score went up, including an improved graduation rate performance.

  • In October, the university was recognized as one of the top 40 LGBTQ-friendly campuses in the country for the 10th year in a row. I actually had the opportunity to learn the history of the UMass Amherst Stonewall Center and talk to director Genny Beemyn about the resources they provide for the LGBTQ community. You can read more about it here

  • For the 6th year in a row, UMass Amherst made The Princeton Review’s Green College List for its environmental commitment. The Princeton Review cited the university’s 25 sustainability-related undergraduate majors, as well as the campus shuttle and bike-share programs.

  • Now for perhaps the most popular bragging point among UMass Amherst students: We are #1 in Best Campus Food, once again according to The Princeton Review. This is our fifth year ranked #1 dining, so you can bet that the meals really are that good! 

  • Juneteenth (June 19) is considered by many to be the end of slavery, as that is when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas in 1865. UMass Amherst professor Amilcar Shabazz led the push to make this day an official holiday in Massachusetts. On July 24, 2020, the holiday was signed into law. 

  • Two UMass Amherst authors won top honors in the 20th Annual Massachusetts Book Awards: Ocean Vuong, associate professor in the MFA for Poets & Writers program, won the Fiction Award for his debut novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, which details his Vietnamese-American immigrant experience. Karen Skolfield, a writing lecturer in the College of Engineering, won the Poetry Award for Battledress: Poems — a piece that addresses her experience as a female U.S. Army Veteran. 

  • Lastly, October 19, 2020 marked the official opening of the new Worcester Dining Commons. Located in the same Northeast Residential Area, the new Worcester now features lounges, meeting rooms, a fitness center, and music practice rooms! 

Even through these difficult times, there are still some feats to celebrate. I’m looking forward to see what the university, its students and its faculty accomplish by the end of  2021!



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