The expanded University Without Walls (UWW) at UMass Amherst officially unveiled its new physical location on campus Oct. 22, where staff will provide support for students at every stage in their educational and professional lives.
Fennick McCredie Architecture of Boston, led by project architect Katherine Brekka, designed the new, open space at 350 Campus Center Way, which includes exterior windows all around and skylights. The site is the former location of the university’s Textbook Annex.
The expansion of UWW, which is one of the oldest and most well-regarded adult bachelor’s degree completion programs in the United States, anticipates a future where universities must evolve into integrated academic service providers capable of offering full-fledged degree programs, stackable credentials and professional career development. In this model, courses will be offered in a number of modes including face-to-face immersive, online and hybrid. The new UWW will elevate the student experience by introducing adaptable multi-modal pedagogies and comprehensive student support services, which will significantly expand access to a high-quality UMass Amherst education.
Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, observed that higher education today is facing unprecedented demographic, fiscal and technological challenges. UMass Amherst, he said, is not immune from these trends and must seek bold, innovative solutions to remain competitive.
“So, we have an opportunity here,” Subbaswamy said. “We will expand access to the university by strategically expanding UWW. By leveraging the pedagogical and technological developments now available to us, we will offer life-long learners the ongoing academic excellence they seek. By bringing together an array of learning modalities, UWW will provide the infrastructure to offer all students lifelong access to the UMass Amherst experience, regardless of their location or stage of life.
The strategic expansion of UWW, he noted, is aligned with the university’s strategic plan and will advance its core mission. “By extending our academic programs and expertise to a broader, life-long learning community,” he said, “we will generate additional revenue, allowing us to invest in our traditional programs, our research enterprise, and our commitment to engagement.