The University of Massachusetts is preparing to open its first satellite campus. The UMass Center at Springfield will welcome its first students two weeks from today.
The newest UMass campus is on the second floor of a Main Street office tower, where ten large classrooms have been constructed at a cost more than $5 million. UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy predicts students will be excited about the course offerings.
" It will be a slow start, but I am sure it will ramp up very quickly once we get operational there."
UMass officials have not announced the initial enrollment. The capacity is about 900 students. A welcome center to provide information about courses and financial aid and to register students has been open since March 31st.
There are high hopes for the newest UMass facility. Eric Nakajima, Assistant Secretary for Innovation Policy in the Patrick administration, said it is seen as a catalyst in the revitalization of the city of Springfield. He said careful planning went into the creation of the satellite campus.
"This is something we are very proud of because it represents a real partnership through out the region. Springfield is leveraging all the assets of the region in its revitalization."
The campus will bring foot traffic to downtown Springfield with the expectation that students, faculty and staff will spend money in stores and restaurants. The campus will also connect the people of Springfield with new job opportunities that Nakajima expects in the long run will have the greatest economic impact.
"What they did was reach out to the community, companies, and partners in higher education to understand what the market dynamics and needs of the workforce are and then tailored the programs accordingly."
There are 40 courses being offered initially including nursing, cyber security, addiction counseling, education, and landscape architecture. Classes will be taught by faculty from the four undergraduate UMass campuses.
A study released in the spring said UMass Amherst contributed almost $2 billion to the state’s economy last year. It was the largest share of a $6.1 billion annual economic impact from the five-campus UMass system, as determined by economists working for the university’s Donahue Institute.
The biggest influence on the economy comes from direct spending by students and faculty, according to UMass Amherst spokesman Ed Blaguszewski.
"There are more than 24,000 students here whose spending is spread across the community. There are more than 5,000 faculty and staff and their paychecks connect to the community."
There is also the impact of construction projects on the campuses. According to the report,$1 billion in new construction took place last year at all five campuses that resulted in 1,357 jobs.
Blaguszewski said UMass Amherst had $140 million in sponsored research projects that supported faculty salaries and paid graduate students.
"You have to work hard to achieve these results. You have to prove every year that it is a good place for kids to go to school, a good place for corporate partnerships, and a good place to work with researchers."
The economic impact of the flagship campus has grown since a study in 2010 measured the impact at $1.4 billion.