By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – The University of Massachusetts (UMass) has completed the first step of its new presence in downtown Springfield with the opening of its welcome center for its satellite campus at Tower Square on March 31.
UMass President Robert Caret described the new education initiative as fulfilling the mission of Land Grant College by bringing educational opportunities to the people.
He predicted having the center here as well as the classroom complex now under construction would “transform lives.”
Mayor Domenic Sarno described the new effort, “This is economic development. This is an important catalyst.”
Caret said the new campus would include classes from all five UMass campuses and would be working closely with Holyoke Community College (HCC) and Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), both of which are major feeder colleges for the Amherst campus.
There will be 40 initial course offerings that will allow people with an associates degree earn a bachelor’s degree in advanced manufacturing, management, cyber security, information technology and casino management.
Other educational opportunities include UMass Boston offering an Addiction Counselor Education Program including a focus on gambling addiction and UMass Amherst offering programs in elementary and secondary education, a master of business administration, nursing, regional planning and landscape architecture, and architecture and design.
Also, HCC Students will be able to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies through a partnership between HCC and UMass Dartmouth that includes a two-year associate degree program leading to a bachelor’s degree. STCC and HCC will provide seven non-credit training programs through their Training & Workforce Options program. UMass Amherst’s University Without Walls, a program to help adults finish their first bachelor’s degree, will also be part of the UMass Center at Springfield. Finally, UMassOnline will be at the Springfield facility and will provide access to the full array of online courses and degrees offered by the five campuses.
UMass Trustee Edward Collins Jr. said the center provides “significant expanded access for local residents.”
UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy noted that education is “pivotal” to continued economic development in the region.