The University of Massachusetts plans to open its first-ever satellite campus next fall in downtown Springfield. University and city officials believe the venture will be mutually beneficial.
The UMass satellite campus will be situated in the 30-story Tower Square office building on Main Street in downtown Springfield. Officials say the expanded presence of the state’s land grant university in the largest city in western Massachusetts will afford students more degree opportunities while infusing downtown Springfield with vitality.
UMass President Robert Caret said the choice of location for the Springfield satellite campus capped more than a year of research to determine if there was sufficient demand for such a center and where it should be.
Governor Deval Patrick was joined by university leaders, city officials, and Congressman Richard Neal for the announcement Tuesday in the center of the shopping mall in Tower Square.
Patrick said UMass campuses have helped grow the economies of both Worcester and Lowell.
UMass Amherst, the flagship campus located 25 miles from Springfield, has offered a number of programs and been involved in joint research and business development ventures in the city for many years. But Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, and others, lobbied for a UMass Springfield “brand” as part of a downtown revitalization push.
UMass Amherst will administer the new satellite campus and there will be academic programs offered there by all five of the system’s campuses and UMass Online. The degree programs will be tailored to the region’s workforce development needs.
Caret said he could not predict how many students might enroll at the satellite campus. He said the expectation is that it will attract community college students looking to transfer to a four-year school but who find it a hardship to travel to Amherst for classes.
No budget has been set for the satellite center.
The university, which reviewed bids from the owners of four downtown buildings in Springfield, has agreed to lease 27,000 square feet on the second floor of Tower Square and 1,600 square feet on the ground floor in the retail part of the building.
There will also be exterior signage on the building advertizing the presence of UMass.