Steve Goodwin is the “point person” enthusiastically overseeing the Mount Ida Campus transition into the UMass Amherst community. Here, he answers some of the stakeholder questions he hears most often.
Why did UMass Amherst make the decision to acquire the Mount Ida campus?
It’s a responsibility of the flagship to give back to all the cities and townships of the Commonwealth; 85 percent of economic activity is in this part of the state, so it’s important for Amherst to be plugged in here. Having a presence in the greater Boston area has been a priority for Chancellor Subbaswamy since he came to UMass in 2012. So the purchase of Mount Ida College is a beneficial opportunity to retain the integrity of the Mount Ida campus and for us to have a physical presence in the eastern part of the state. We’re really happy to be here in this area.
What are the goals for the student experience of Mount Ida?
Our utmost priority is to provide the best education we can for our students. Part of that involves experiential learning. Now that we have this physical space, students who live in Western Mass or who are from out of state have a base of operations from which they can take advantage of internship opportunities in the greater Boston area and sustain those for longer. As we know, this part of the state can be prohibitively expensive to live in, especially if you are a student. There will be coursework available on campus, as well as online coursework.
The model for higher education is changing, and the Mount Ida campus gives us many more options for professional development, executive education, and lifelong learning. We have the opportunity to reinvent what higher education could look like here, so we will be very deliberate about building our programming, because we want it to be of the very highest quality.
We will have two to three new programs up for spring 2019, involving between 200 to 300 students. By fall 2019, we’ll have 10 to 15 programs running in various capacities, up to maybe 30 in five years.
What about the relationship with businesses in this sector of the state?
Since our students will have a home base for longer internships and co-ops—and therefore a richer educational experience—this is also of benefit to companies, because it allows businesses to try qualified students on “for size” in a more involved working relationship.
Being in such close proximity to Boston allows us to draw businesses to the Mount Ida campus, where they can represent themselves to the students here. We intend to become very active with businesses in the area. In addition to working with entrepreneurships and start-ups, we want to find innovative ways to help established businesses. Incubator and accelerator spaces are real possibilities, as well as developing a conference center in the near future. Chancellor Subbaswamy wants to be creative and different about how we use the spaces on the campus.