CICS groundbreaking event
University News

Governor Baker Joins UMass Officials to Break Ground for New $125 Million Building for Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences

State Commitment of $75 Million Plays Key Role in Funding World-class Facility

AMHERST, Mass. – With Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on hand to celebrate a major state capital investment in the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS), the university broke ground today for a new $125 million facility that will serve as a world-class hub for education, research and outreach.

governor charlie baker
Governor Charlie Baker

The new building is substantially funded by a $75 million state capital commitment from the Baker-Polito administration. It will expand facilities by creating approximately 90,000 gross square feet of new space, designed to respond to enormous growth in the college’s enrollment over the past five years, and provide talent to fuel business growth and research collaborations that benefit the entire state. The facility is expected to open in spring 2025.

Today’s celebration follows an historic gift of $18 million made in 2021 by UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Manning and his wife, Donna Manning, for what is now the Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences.

Governor Baker said, “This new, state-of-the-art academic building will equip students with the resources and skills they need to achieve in the classroom and beyond. Our administration is proud to support the University of Massachusetts and the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences as the next generation of scientific leaders learn, succeed and drive innovation.”

Baker noted that “everything going digital” today is both “exciting and terrifying.” He emphasized the importance of understanding the consequences of the digital revolution and assessing how it can be harnessed for the common good. Given that UMass Amherst is a “place of doers,” Baker said, he’s confident the state’s $75 million state investment in CICS will deliver results. “This is a really special place,” he said. “This is a place that is doing great things. I know you will do great things with it.”

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy noted, “The Mannings and the Baker-Polito Administration know a wise investment when they see one. The college is a leader in computer science research, with $22.9 million in new grant awards in FY 2021 alone, including $4.1 million from industry partners. Moving forward, CICS will continue to provide a high return on investment, advancing the commonwealth’s key innovation areas and driving scientific discovery in vital areas such as healthcare, sustainable computing, cybersecurity and human-centered technology.

“Thank you, Dean Laura Haas and your entire team, for the work you do to move the commonwealth forward in producing talent and-cutting edge research. Your work really is ‘computing for the common good’ and the campus is thrilled you will be able to continue this work in the showcase facility our students deserve.” 

CICS offers a world-class education, with over 280 Ph.D. students, nearly 400 master’s students, and over 1,700 undergraduate computer science and informatics students. CICS currently has 74 faculty, including 40 new faculty hired in the past five years. Research funding from industry and government exceeded $21 million in the past year. The new space will facilitate a significant increase of faculty — 40 new lines plus associated students, staff and researchers —– and increased student and community spaces.  

Lieutenant Governor Polito said, “A robust pipeline of talent to the Massachusetts STEM workforce and economy is critical to the commonwealth’s continued leadership in key industries like information and computer sciences. The Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences will support students and faculty as they research and develop exciting new advancements in cutting-edge fields and industry sectors.”

UMass President Meehan said, “Today, we take a major step in advancing the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences’ mission as a world-class hub for education, research and innovation. Thanks to the capital support from the Baker-Polito administration and a transformational gift from UMass alumni Rob and Donna Manning, we are building the future of the Massachusetts innovation economy.”

CICS Dean Laura Haas observed, “In the five years I have been privileged to be dean, CICS has almost doubled its number of students and faculty, bolstered by investment from the university, from corporate friends like MassMutual and Adobe, and through generous support from our alumni and friends, including, of course, Robert and Donna Manning. While we are the flagship’s newest college, we have engaged in cross-disciplinary research since our beginning, and we currently engage in research and educational collaborations with every school and college at UMass Amherst, as with our new initiative around public interest technology. Our students are among the most accomplished in the commonwealth; upon graduation, more than 68% of our graduates choose to work and live in Massachusetts.”

Features of the New Facility

The new building will connect to the east side of the existing Computer Science building, physically linking each existing floor to an open, light-filled commons for graduate and undergraduate students. The commons will both connect undergraduate and graduate students to the college’s larger community of resources and showcase visually interesting research in makerspaces and special purpose labs, such as robotics.   

As an energy efficient and sustainable facility, the building will meet the minimum certification level of LEED Silver®, prioritize low energy use, minimize the use of fossil fuels, and serve as a model for the UMass Carbon Zero initiative to create a net zero carbon emissions campus. The project will incorporate ground-source heat exchange and a high-performance envelope.  

The building will also feature:

  • Research lab modules
  • 240-seat auditorium 
  • Interactive teaching classrooms 
  • Meeting spaces 
  • Conference rooms 
  • Huddle rooms 

Additional speakers at the groundbreaking included Board of Trustees Chair Manning; Trustee Steve Karam, chair of the administration and finance committee; Trustee Mary Burns; Provost Tricia Serio; Distinguished Professor Prashant Shenoy; and Student Trustee Adam Lechowicz ’22 (a graduate student in the computer science Ph.D. program).