Details to be determined for UMass Springfield
By G. Michael Dobbsnews@thereminder.com
SPRINGFIELD – Reaction to the announcement that that University of Massachusetts (UMass) will open a satellite campus at Tower Square in the fall of next year was mixed from the three private schools that make the city their home.
Few details about what programs would be offered, the number of administrators and faculty members at the new facility or a target number for students were offered at the announcement on Nov. 26.
UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said the initial space to be leased would be 25,000 square-feet on the mezzanine level of Tower Square. Depending on the number of students, that area could be increased to 50,000 square feet.
The decision to increase the UMass presence will be due to “organic growth,” he added.
Subbaswamy said that university officials must “figure out what needs exist” to plan the academic offerings. He explained that both BayState Health System and MassMutual will be consulted about educational developments those companies might have.
Although UMass officials have not spoken directly to the three private colleges, Subbaswamy said, “Our intention is to be good partners.”
What was announced is the office of the university’s online program will be in Springfield and that all of the current UMass programs currently in the city, such as the UMass Design Center, will be moved to Tower Square.
WFCR is now in the construction phase of building new offices and studios on Main Street. When completed next spring, it will move most of its operations to the city.
UMass President Robert Caret said that while UMass has been a presence in the city, “as we all knew we can always do more.”
The Tower Square property was one of four offers the university received. UMass will have a five-year lease, with two, five-year renewal options that could extend the lease for another 10 years.
The university will be able to put signage on the outside of the building and was offered first floor retail space. Reminder Publications
contacted representatives of American International College (AIC), Springfield College and Western New England University (WNE).
AIC declined to make any comment, but Steve Roulier, director of Marketing and Communications of Springfield College stated, “We welcome UMass to our downtown area. Springfield College has been a committed partner with the city of Springfield bringing educational and job opportunities for more than 125 years. We look forward to partnering with UMass to help make Springfield a better place.”
Barbara Moffat, vice president for marketing and External Affairs at WNE, said the university “is welcoming to anyone who will add to the vitality of the Springfield area.”
Moffat said that WNE officials had spoken to Mayor Domenic Sarno about the concern that the UMass course offerings wouldn’t duplicate classes already being offered.
“Taxpayers should not be asked to finance unnecessary competition,” she explained.
While Moffat said WNE is “not afraid of competition,” she added, “We really welcome the opportunity to collaborate …The needs are so great I think everyone should be working together.”
Cambridge College already has a satellite campus at Tower Square ands Moffat noted that WNE maintained a campus there itself in the 1990s.