Governor Deval Patrick today announced $5.2 million in funding to complete the construction and furnishings for the University of Massachusetts’ new UMass Center at Springfield, located at Tower Square, downtown Springfield. The grant – funded through the FY2014 capital plan – will help UMass ensure completion of construction in time for the fall 2014 semester.
“This new Center will provide vital education and skills training resources in downtown Springfield, and open up new educational and job opportunities for the residents of Springfield and beyond,” Governor Patrick said.
UMass President Robert L. Caret said the new Center “is not only an educational collaboration but also an economic initiative, a downtown revitalization initiative, while at its core an investment in people’s lives and their futures.”
The project is part of Governor Patrick’s core strategy of long-term investments in education, innovation and infrastructure as the way to grow the Massachusetts economy and create opportunities for all of its citizens. That strategy is outlined in the economic development plan, Choosing to Compete in the 21st Century.
Located in the heart of Springfield’s downtown district, the 26,000 square-foot facility is two blocks from City Hall and the MassMutual Center. It will significantly expand the University’s presence in western Massachusetts and introduce degree opportunities to students of all ages that will be tailored to the meet the region’s workforce needs.
“Skilled workers, especially in growing industries like IT and advanced manufacturing, are critical to Springfield’s economic development,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki. “The new UMass Center at Springfield will partner with MassMutual, Baystate Health Systems and Springfield residents to expand opportunity in the city.” The Center will also give access to students who are taking UMass courses online.
The center is comprised of ten large, instructional rooms, including three nursing classrooms, one computer lab, two conference rooms, seven small meeting rooms, and space for student counseling and public events and meetings. UMass plans to open the Center with classes by faculty from the four undergrad UMass campuses, in partnership with Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College.
The Center is scheduled to fully open at the end of August, in time for the fall 2014 semester, but the university has already opened a Welcome Center on the first floor of Tower Square where prospective students can find information about the fall courses.