University of Massachusetts Amherst

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
Uma seal.png
Seal of the University of Massachusetts
MottoEnse petit placidam sub libertate quietem
Motto in EnglishBy the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty
EstablishedApril 29, 1863[1]
Land Grant
EndowmentUS$ 230.6 million (2012)
ChancellorKumble Subbaswamy
ProvostJames Staros
Admin. staff1,121 full-time[2]
LocationAmherst, Massachusetts, US
Coordinates: 42°23′20″N 72°31′40″W / 42.38889°N 72.52778°W / 42.38889; -72.52778
Campus1,463 acres (5.87 km2) Urban/Suburban
Former namesMassachusetts Agricultural College (1863–1931)[3]
Massachusetts State College (1931–1947)
NewspapersThe Massachusetts Daily Collegian, The Minuteman[4]
ColorsMaroon and White
AthleticsNCAA Division I FBS Atlantic 10 Conference
Hockey East, Mid-American Conference
Sports21 Varsity Teams [5]
NicknameMinutemen and Minutewomen[6]
MascotSam the Minuteman[7]
UMassAmherst logo.png
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Not to be confused with Amherst College.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Uma seal.png
Seal of the University of Massachusetts
MottoEnse petit placidam sub libertate quietem
Motto in EnglishBy the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty
EstablishedApril 29, 1863[1]
Land Grant
EndowmentUS$ 230.6 million (2012)
ChancellorKumble Subbaswamy
ProvostJames Staros
Admin. staff1,121 full-time[2]
LocationAmherst, Massachusetts, US
Coordinates: 42°23′20″N 72°31′40″W / 42.38889°N 72.52778°W / 42.38889; -72.52778
Campus1,463 acres (5.87 km2) Urban/Suburban
Former namesMassachusetts Agricultural College (1863–1931)[3]
Massachusetts State College (1931–1947)
NewspapersThe Massachusetts Daily Collegian, The Minuteman[4]
ColorsMaroon and White
AthleticsNCAA Division I FBS Atlantic 10 Conference
Hockey East, Mid-American Conference
Sports21 Varsity Teams [5]
NicknameMinutemen and Minutewomen[6]
MascotSam the Minuteman[7]
UMassAmherst logo.png

The University of Massachusetts Amherst (otherwise known as Massachusetts, UMass, or UMass Amherst) is a public research and land-grant university in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States, and the flagship of the University of Massachusetts system. With 1,174 faculty members and more than 27,000 students, UMass Amherst is the largest public university in New England.[8]

The university offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees in 88 undergraduate and 72 graduate areas of study, through eight schools and colleges.[9] The main campus is situated north of downtown Amherst. In a 2009 article for, Amherst was ranked first in Best College Towns in the United States.[10] In 2012, U.S. News and World Report ranked Amherst amongst the Top 10 Great College Towns in America.[11]

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is categorized as a Research University with Very High research activity by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.[12] In 2011, UMass Amherst had research expenditures of $181.3 million.[13] It is also a member of the Five College Consortium.

UMass Amherst sports teams are called the Minutemen and Minutewomen, the colors being maroon and white; the school mascot is Sam the Minuteman. All teams participate in NCAA Division I. The university is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, while playing ice hockey in Hockey East. In football, UMass has completed their last season in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) at the FCS level, and in 2012 they upgraded to the FBS level and transition to the Mid-American Conference (MAC).


Foundation and early years[edit]

Massachusetts Agricultural College as it appeared in 1879, with students and faculty standing in front of Old South College, North College, and the college's first chapel.

The university was founded in 1863 under the provisions of the Federal Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to provide instruction to Massachusetts citizens in the "agricultural, mechanical, and military arts." Accordingly, the university was initially named the Massachusetts Agricultural College, popularly referred to as "Mass Aggie" or "M.A.C." In 1867, the college had yet to admit any students, had been through two Presidents, and still had not completed any college buildings. In that year, William S. Clark was appointed President of the college and Professor of Botany. He quickly appointed a faculty, completed the construction plan, and in the fall of 1867 admitted the first class of approximately 50 students. Clark became the first functioning President and arguably the primary founding father of the college.[14]

The University's Centennial Seal
Old Chapel constructed in 1884 at the campus

The original buildings consisted of Old South College (a dormitory located on the site of the present South College), North College (a second dormitory once located just south of today's Machmer Hall), the Chemistry Laboratory, also known as College Hall (once located on the present site of Machmer Hall), the Boarding House (a small dining hall located just north of the present Campus Parking Garage), the Botanic Museum (located on the north side of the intersection of Stockbridge Road and Chancellor's Hill Drive) and the Durfee Plant House (located on the site of the new Durfee Conservatory).[15]

Although enrollment was slow during the 1870s, the fledgling college built momentum under the leadership of President Henry Hill Goodell. In the 1880s, Goodell implemented an expansion plan, adding the College Drill Hall in 1883 (the first gymnasium), the Old Chapel Library in 1885 (one of the oldest extant buildings on campus and an important symbol of the University), and the East and West Experiment Stations in 1886 and 1890. The Campus Pond, now the central focus of the University Campus, was created in 1893 by damming a small brook.

The early 20th century saw great expansion in terms of enrollment and the scope of the curriculum. The first female student was admitted in 1875 on a part-time basis and the first full-time female student was admitted in 1892. In 1903, Draper Hall was constructed for the dual purpose of a dining hall and female housing. The first female students graduated with the class of 1905. The first dedicated female dormitory, the Abigail Adams House (on the site of today's Lederle Tower) was built in 1920.[16]

By the start of the 20th century, the college was thriving and quickly expanded its curriculum to include the liberal arts. In recognition of the higher enrollment and broader curriculum, the college was renamed Massachusetts State College in 1931.

Following World War II, the G.I. Bill, facilitating financial aid for veterans, led to an explosion of applicants. The college population soared and Presidents Hugh Potter Baker and Ralph Van Meter labored to push through major construction projects in the 1940s and 1950s, particularly with regard to dormitories (now Northeast and Central Residential Areas). Accordingly, the name of the college was changed in 1947 to the "University of Massachusetts."

Modern era[edit]

Welcome sign at the university
From the W.E.B. DuBois Library, a northward view. The Lederle Graduate Research Tower can be seen in the background with the Campus Center and Hotel in the foreground.

By the 1970s, the University continued to grow and gave rise to a shuttle bus service on campus as well as many other architectural additions; this included the Murray D. Lincoln Campus Center complete with a hotel, office space, fine dining restaurant, campus store, and passage way to the parking garage, the W. E. B. Du Bois Library, and the Fine Arts Center.

Over the course of the next two decades, the John W. Lederle Graduate Research Center and the Conte National Polymer Research Center were built and UMass Amherst emerged as a major research facility. The Robsham Memorial Center for Visitors welcomed thousands of guests to campus after its dedication in 1989. For athletic and other large events, the Mullins Center was opened in 1993, hosting capacity crowds as the Minutemen basketball team ranked at number one for many weeks in the mid-1990s, and reached the Final Four in 1996.

21st Century[edit]

UMass Amherst entered the 21st century with close to 24,000 students enrolled.[citation needed] In 2003, for the first time, the Massachusetts State Legislature legally designated UMass Amherst as a Research University and the "flagship campus of the UMass system."[17] UMass Faculty members are top performers in terms of the numbers of awards and recognitions they receive, and their supported research activities total more than $140 million per year.[2] Its current student body is the most high-achieving in UMass Amherst history (in terms of admissions test scores and grades) and the university was named a top producer of Fulbright Award winners in the 2008–2009 academic year.[18] Additionally, in 2010 UMass Amherst was named one of the "Top Colleges and Universities Contributing to Teach For America's 2010 Teaching Corps."[19]

Organization and administration[edit]

College/school founding
Year founded
Stockbridge School of Agriculture
Public Health and Health Sciences
Humanities and Fine Arts
Isenberg School of Management
Natural Sciences
Social and Behavioral Sciences

Since the University of Massachusetts Amherst was founded as the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863, 25 individuals have been at the helm of the institution.[20] The office, originally known as "President," was changed to "Chancellor" in 1970. The title "President of the University of Massachusetts" now refers to the president of the entire five-campus University of Massachusetts system. The current Chancellor of the Amherst campus is Dr. Kumble R. Subbaswamy.[21] The Chancellor resides in Hillside, the campus residence for chancellors.[22]

There are 1,121 permanent faculty at the university.[citation needed] In 2010 the state budgeted $465 million for the UMass system. State funding is 25% of revenue.[23] UMass offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees in over 90 undergraduate and 65 graduate areas of study. The university is organized into eight schools and colleges:[9]

Students interested in studying outside of a particular major can apply to enroll in the Bachelor's Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC) program. This is a unique program which allows students to design their own area of study. A BDIC concentration must be interdisciplinary, drawing from at least three fields or disciplines, and it may not duplicate an existing major. Courses can be selected from any department within the university as well as the campuses in the Five College Consortium. Course selection is guided by the students chosen faculty sponsor and a BDIC faculty supervisor. BDIC students are assigned to one of five academic clusters- Arts and Cultural studies; Business and Law; Communication; Education and Human Development; Natural Health, Computer Sciences and Engineering.

Additionally, the university offers two programs designed for adult and continuing education students, known as University Without Walls[24] and Continuing and Professional Education.[25]


University of Massachusetts Amherst financial endowment (the "University Endowment Fund") was valued at $210.1 million in 2012. In 2013, the university launched $300 million fund-raising campaign which will end in 2016.[26]


The University's campus is situated on 1,450 acres, mainly in the town Amherst, but also partly in the neighboring town of Hadley. The campus extends about 1 mile (1.6 km) from the Campus Center in all directions and may be thought of as a series of concentric rings, with innermost ring harboring academic buildings and research labs, surrounded by a ring of the seven residential areas and two University owned apartment complexes. These include North Apartments, Sylvan, Northeast, Central, Orchard Hill, Southwest, Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex, as well as the two University owned apartment complexes, North Village and Lincoln Apartments) These are in turn is surrounded by a ring of athletic facilities, smaller administration buildings, and parking lots.

The campus has its own Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generation facility. The plant, which was dedicated in 2009 after ten years of planning, replaced a coal burning power plant dating back to 1918 and has reduced the campus' greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 75%. In 2011, the CHP was recognized as the cleanest plant of its size in New England and has been recognized for maintaining 80% efficiency over six consecutive quarters. In 2008, the CHP received the Combined Cycle Journal Pacesetter Award for the best Combined Heat and Power plant project in the US that year. The award refers to its innovative design, efficiency, reliability, system redundancy, and environmental benefits.In 2009, the CHP received the Sustainable Campus Leadership Award from the International District Energy Association. The award states it was given "In recognition of exemplary public leadership in advancing energy efficiency and global environmental stewardship through investment in an innovative district energy system." The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented the University of Massachusetts with the 2011 Combined Heat and Power Energy Star Award[dead link] in an effort to recognize the reduced emissions and increased efficiency of the plant.

The W. E. B. Du Bois Library is the 2nd tallest library in the world[27] and it is the tallest university library in the world.[28]

The W.E.B. Du Bois Library is the main library on campus and the tallest library in the United States, after consisting of 26 stories and 296 feet (90.32 m) tall.[29] Before, the Goodell Hall was built to house the University library, which had outgrown its space in the 1885 Chapel building. Originally known as Goodell Library, the building was named for Henry H. Goodell, who had served as College Librarian, Professor of Modern Languages and English Literature, and eighth President of the Massachusetts Agricultural College. The W.E.B. Du Bois Library is well regarded for its innovative architectural design, which incorporates the bookshelves into the structural support of the building.[30] It is home of the memoirs and papers of the distinguished African-American activist and Massachusetts native W. E. B. Du Bois, as well as being the depository for other important collections, such as the papers of the late Congressman Silvio O. Conte. The library's special collections include works on movements for social change, African American history and culture, labor and industry, literature and the arts, agriculture, and the history of the surrounding region.[31]

Stockbridge Hall, Stockbridge School of Agriculture.

The Science and Engineering Library is the other main library on campus. It is located on the second floor of the Lederle Graduate Research Center (occasionally referred to as the Lederle "low rise"). UMass is also home to the DEFA Film Library, the only archive and study collection of East German films outside of Europe, the Shirley Graham Du Bois Library in New Africa House, the Biological Sciences Library in Morrill Hall, the UMass Science Fiction Society (UMSFS) Library in the Campus Center, and the Music Reserve Lab in the Fine Arts Center.

The university has several buildings (constructed in the 1960s and 70s) of importance in the modernist style, including the Murray D. Lincoln Campus Center and Hotel designed by Marcel Breuer, the Southwest Residential Area designed by Hugh Stubbins Jr. of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, The Fine Arts Center by Kevin Roche, the W.E.B. Du Bois Library by Edward Durell Stone, and Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium by Gordon Bunshaft. Many of the older dorms and lecture halls are built in a Georgian Revival style such as French Hall, Fernald Hall,Stockbridge Hall and Flint Laboratory.

The campus facilities have undergone extensive renovations in recent years. New and newly renovated facilities include student apartment complexes, Berkshire Dining Commons, library Learning Commons, School of Management, Integrated Science Building, Nursing Building, Studio Arts Building, Heating Plant, track facility, and Recreation Center. Newly completed construction projects on campus include a new Campus Police Station and the George N. Parks Minuteman Marching Band Building.

Arnold House, part of Northeast Residential Area, the oldest residential area at UMass Amherst.

Residential life[edit]

Residential Life at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of the largest on campus housing systems in the United States. Over 14,000 students live in 52 residence halls, while families, staff, and graduate students live in 345 units in two apartment complexes (North Village and Lincoln). The fifty-two residence halls and four undergraduate apartment buildings are grouped into seven separate and very different residential areas: Central, Northeast, Orchard Hill, Southwest, Sylvan, North Apartments, and the newly constructed Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex. Each possesses its own distinctive characteristics, inspired in part by location, in part by architecture, and in part by the different cultural or academic living/learning programs housed within. Each residential area houses classrooms, recreational and social centers, kitchenettes, and cultural centers - in addition to the bedrooms, study areas, laundries, television rooms, and dining facilities you might expect. Each also has its own student governing body and is,in effect, a community unto itself. Located in the central corridor of campus, the Honors College Complex houses undergraduate students enrolled within the campus' Commonwealth Honors College program. In this style of complex, undergraduates as well as select staff, share an interwoven mix of double, single, suite, and apartment style living options spread across seven distinct halls. This area features a 24-hour full-service Cafe, assembly and workshop rooms, as well as select Honors College programming offices.

Major campus expansion[edit]

$160m Life Science Laboratories Building on the campus.[32]

The University of Massachusetts Amherst campus embarked on a 10-year, US$1 billion[33] capital improvement program in 2004, setting the stage for re-visioning the campus’s future.[34][35] This includes construction of $156 million New Science Laboratory Building, $30 million Champions Basketball Center, an $85 million academic building, and $30 million in renovations to the football stadium.[36]

By year 2017, a new Integrated Design Building costing approximately $50 million will be opened.[37]

By 2015 the university and the local utility company WMECO will construct a new electrical substation for the campus near Tilson farm. The total project will cost $40 million and complements the new central heating plant that was completed in 2009.

Student body[edit]

Mather House, the admissions office at the university.
Demographics of student body[38][39][40]
UndergraduateGraduateU.S. Census
African American12.0%
Asian American4.7%
White American63.7%
Hispanic American16.3%
Native American0.7%
International studentN/A

Freshmen First Time in College Statistics[41][42][43]

 % Admitted62.562.565.667.666.964.365.6
Average SAT1208119711891167116911551142
HS GPA3.733.663.643.613.603.563.48

This table does not account deferred, transfer
applications or other unique situations.

The number of applications to UMass Amherst has more than doubled since fall of 2003.[44] In 2009, 64% percent of applicants were accepted to the university, and 2% to the Commonwealth College (14% of those accepted). For fall 2010, 31,300 applications were received. In 2011, the record high 32,500 applications were received which has doubled since fall 2003.[45] The incoming class of 2016 had an average high school GPA of 3.66 out of 4, up from average GPA of 3.62 the year before. The class of 2015 was the school's biggest at 4,700, which is 200 more than the class of 2014 and is the largest first-year class since the school was founded in 1863.[46] SAT score of the class of 2015 increased by 20 points to 1187 compared to previous year and on average the students were in top 20 percent of their high school class.[45] Acceptance to the Commonwealth College honors program of UMass Amherst is more selective with an average SAT score of 1390 (math and critical reading) and an average high school class rank of top 6%.[47]


Goodell Hall

Ranking and reputation[edit]

University rankings
ARWU[48]55 - 69
U.S. News & World Report[50]91
Washington Monthly[51]181
ARWU[52]101 - 150
UMass Amherst Rankings
USNWR National University[55]91
USNWR Education[56]
USNWR Engineering[57]
USNWR Public Affairs[58]
USNWR Fine Arts[59]
USNWR Business[60]
USNWR Chemistry[61]
USNWR Computer Science[62]
USNWR Political Science[63]
USNWR Mathematics[64]
USNWR Physics[65]
USNWR Sociology[66]
Forbes National[67]180
ARWU Global[68]101-150
ARWU Social Sciences[69]
ARWU Physics[68]
ARWU Economics/Business[68]
Washington Monthly National[70]181
Wuhan International ESI[71]Top-200
CMUP Research Universities[72]Top-100
Webometrics World[73]91

U.S. News and World Report's 2013 edition of America's Best Colleges ranked UMass Amherst 91st on their list of "Best National Universities", and 40th among public universities.[74] According to the Boston Business Journal, UMass tuition is now the tenth most expensive of all US public universities.[75] The computer science program is ranked 20th, tied with Brown, Purdue, Rice, UNC Chapel Hill, USC, and Yale.[76] The artificial intelligence program is ranked 8th, computer systems is ranked at 18th[77] while electrical and communications engineering is ranked 51st.[78] The philosophy department is ranked 26th in the US and 33rd in the world.[79] U.S. News and World Report ranks UMass Amherst 57th among graduate engineering schools, 47th among graduate education schools, 54th among nursing programs, and in the graduate arts and sciences, 30th for speech-language pathology, 31st for sociology, 1st for food science, 46th for English, 48th for physics, 49th for earth sciences, 50th for psychology, 50th for chemistry, 64th for history, 64th for math, 28th for biology, 72nd for public affairs, and 81st for fine arts.[11]

Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranks the university as the 64th best university in the world in its World University Rankings 2012.[80] It also ranks the university as the 19th in the world for its reputation in Top Universities By Reputation 2011.[81] UMass Amherst is ranked 26th among Engineering and Technology Universities.[82] The University is ranked 48th in the world among Physical Sciences Universities.[83] The University is further ranked 33rd in the world among Arts and Humanities Universities,[84] 31st in the world among Pre-Clinical, Clinical and Health Universities[85] and 32nd in the world among Life Sciences Universities.[86]

The undergraduate engineering program is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as tied for 56th in the country among schools whose highest degree is a doctorate, ranked higher than other area schools, such as, Tufts University, Wentworth Institute of Technology and Northeastern University.[87]

The Isenberg School of Management is an internationally recognized business school, with undergraduate and MBA programs ranked in the top 50 and top 25 respectively. Their undergraduate business program was ranked by BusinessWeek in 2013 as the 45th best program in the country, and the 20th best among public universities. Notably, they were rated 23rd overall on BusinessWeek's Employer Survey which measured recruiter perceptions of which programs turned out the best graduates. At the MBA level, in 2014 U.S. News and World Report ranked the full-time program 51st overall, and 25th among publics; the part-time MBA 22nd overall, and 13th among publics; and the online MBA 22nd overall, and 18th among publics. It also houses the first Sport Management program ever in the country, and constantly ranks among the top.

The National Research Council ranked computer science at UMass Amherst 18th in quality of PhD education and polymer science 2nd, in quality of PhD education and 7th in quality of scholarship among all US materials departments. Where the Institute for Scientific Information ranked the Chemical Engineering program 5th, Computer Science Department 9th and Geosciences Department recognized for producing most cited paper on Global Warming.[11]

Polymer Science and Engineering department is ranked #1 by U.S. News and World Report (#2 among all ranked materials department in nation; U.S. News and World Report, 2001). The department is affiliated to MRSEC (Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers) by NSF. The department has only PhD program for graduate studies and has highly selective admission criteria.[88]

In 2009, the Master of Fine Arts Program for Poets and Writers was rated 4th nationally among graduate creative writing programs by Poets & Writers Magazine.[89]

In 2009, the undergraduate Writing Program was awarded the Conference on College Composition and Communication's (CCCC) 2008–09 Certificate of Excellence, the highest award given to writing programs in the United States.[90] In 1982, the University instituted a two-part writing requirement for all undergraduate students that included First Year Writing, and Junior Year Writing. First Year Writing is satisfied by a general academic writing course, College Writing 112. Junior Year Writing is satisfied by an advanced upper level course that focuses on writing in the particular field of a student's major.[91]

In 2010, ranked UMass #18 in the "College Rankings of Rock", which is a top 20 countdown that "evaluated universities near and far, ordering them according to their matriculation of musicians"[5]. Notable musicians and bands that attended UMass include Natalie Cole, The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Buffalo Tom, John Linnell from They Might Be Giants, Joe Pernice of the Pernice Brothers, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Taj Mahal (musician).

Founded in 1971, the University Without Walls was one of the first adult bachelor's degree completion programs in the country.

Commonwealth Honors College[edit]

$182 million new Commonwealth Honors College complex being constructed at the university.[92]
The Old Chapel and W.E.B. DuBois Library at UMass Amherst.

Commonwealth Honors College is the honors college at UMass. The honors college provides students the opportunity to intensify their UMass academic curriculum. The requirements of the college are to complete an honors college writing course, a seminar called "Ideas That Changed the World," two honors gen ed courses, an honors seminar called "Topics," and for advanced scholarship honors, several upper-level honors courses, including an honors thesis or project. Membership in the honors college is not required in order to graduate the University with higher Latin honors designations, such as magna or summa cum laude. Commonwealth Honors College provides honors students an additional community of students to interact with outside of their academic department and holds many social and academic events during the school year. In 2013, the University completed the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community (CHCRC) on campus to serve the College, including classrooms, faculty housing, an administration area, and residence areas that houses 1,500 students.[93]

Five College consortium[edit]

UMass Amherst is part of the Five Colleges consortium, which allows its students to attend classes, borrow books, work with professors, etc., at four other Pioneer Valley institutions: Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges.

All five colleges are located within 10 miles of Amherst center, and are accessible by public bus. The five share an astronomy department and some other undergraduate and graduate departments.

UMass Amherst holds the license for WFCR, the National Public Radio affiliate for Western Massachusetts. Its studios are located in Hampshire House on campus. (In 2013, the station announced that it will move its main operations to the Fuller Building on Main Street in Springfield, but retain some offices in Hampshire House.[94])

Community service[edit]

UMass Amherst emphasizes community service as part of its academic programs. The Community Engagement Program (CEP) offers courses that combine classroom learning and community service, and sponsors programs such as the first year IMPACT learning community and the Citizen Scholars Program. Co-curricular service programs include the Alternative Spring Break, Engineers without Borders, the Legal Studies Civil Rights Clinical Project, the Medical Reserve Corps, Alpha Phi Omega, the Red Cross Club, the Rotaract Club, UCAN Volunteer, and the Veterans and Service Members Association (VSMA).

The White House has named UMass Amherst to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for four consecutive years, in recognition of its commitment to volunteering, service learning, and civic engagement.[95] They have also been named a "Community-Engaged University" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.[96] The Princeton Review included UMass Amherst in its Colleges with a Conscience: 81 Great Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement.


Researchers at the university made several high-profile achievements in recent years. In a bi-national collaboration, National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst came together and built Large Millimeter Telescope.[97][98] It was inaugurated in Mexico in 2006 (on top of Sierra Negra).

A team of scientists at UMass, led by Vincent Rotello, have developed a molecular nose that can detect and identify various proteins. The research appeared in the May 2007 issue of Nature Nanotechnology, and the team is currently focusing on sensors which will detect the malformed proteins made by cancer cells.[99] Also, UMass Amherst scientists Richard Farris, Todd Emrick, and Bryan Coughlin lead a research team that developed a synthetic polymer that does not burn. This polymer is a building block of plastic, and the new flame-retardant plastics won't need to have flame-retarding chemicals added to their composition. These chemicals have recently been found in many different areas from homes and offices to fish, and there are environmental and health concerns regarding the additives. The newly developed polymers would not require the addition of these potentially hazardous chemicals.[100]

Environmental research UMass Amherst researchers have positioned the campus as a national leader in sustainability.[citation needed]

Economics professor Robert Pollin has influenced the national discussion about how best to stimulate the US economy and promote sustainability. He and colleagues at the Political Economy Research Institute have developed a plan for national recovery that shows, for example, that investing in clean energy (wind power, solar, and biofuels) will create about three times as many good-paying jobs than conventional projects will, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil.[citation needed]

Since September 2009, the campus has won more than $36 million in competitive stimulus grants. These include:[citation needed]

Other significant research in environmentally safe technology among UMass Amherst faculty includes:

Student life[edit]

Arts on Campus[edit]

Main article: Museums10
The University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst.

The UMass Amherst campus offers a variety of artistic venues, both for performance and visual art. The most prominent is the Fine Arts Center (FAC), built in 1975. The FAC brings nationally known theater, music, and dance performances to campus throughout the year to its performance spaces (the Concert Hall, Bezanson Recital Hall, and Bowker Auditorium). These include several popular performance series: Jazz in July Summer Music Program, The Asian Arts & Culture Program, the Center Series,and the Magic Triangle Series presenting music, dance, and theater performances, cultural arts events, films, talks, workshops, masterclasses and special family events. The University Museum of Contemporary Art in the FAC has a permanent contemporary art collection of about 2,600 works and hosts numerous visual arts exhibitions each year, as well as workshops, master classes, and artist residencies.[101]

The 9,000-seat Mullins Center, the multi-purpose arena of UMass Amherst hosts a wide variety of performances including speakers, rock concerts, and Broadway shows. In addition, the Music, Dance, and Theater Departments, the Renaissance Center, and multiple student groups dedicated to the arts provide an eclectic menu of performances throughout the year.

Besides the University Museum of Contemporary Art in the FAC, there are four additional art galleries on the UMass Amherst campus that exhibit the work of faculty, students, and artists from around the world. These are the Augusta Savage Gallery in New Africa House (a multicultural and multiarts facility), Herter Gallery in Herter Hall, the Hamden and Central Galleries, located in the residential areas on campus, and the Student Union Art Gallery.

The Interdepartmental Program for Film Studies has been organizing the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival on campus since 1991.[102]

Students also have access to performance venues and galleries in the towns of Amherst and Northampton, and at Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, Smith, and Amherst Colleges.

Groups and activities[edit]

Red brick building with large windows, tall central tower, and green ivy growing on the facade
Student Union.
U. Mass Amherst looking southeast from the air.
Campus scene.
Coolidge Hall and Kennedy Hall, dormitories at the university.
Fine Arts Center at the campus.

UMass Amherst has a history of protest and activism among the undergraduate and graduate population[103] and is home to over 200 registered student organizations (RSOs).


The Student Government Association (SGA) is the undergraduate student governmental body, and provides funding for the many registered student organizations (RSOs) and agencies, including the Student Legal Services Office (SLSO) and the Center for Student Business (CSB). The SGA also makes formal recommendations on matters of campus policy and advocates for undergraduate students to the Administration, non-student organizations, and local and state government. The SGA has a budget of approximately 3 million dollars per year which is collected for students in the form of the Student Activities Fee. The student activities fee is currently $125 per year (Spring 2013). It is used to fund RSOs, Agencies and the SGA itself.

The SGA has three branches: the President and Executive Cabinet, the Undergraduate Student Senate, and the Student Judiciary.

Area governments

There are a total of seven area governments. Each of the campus's six residential areas has an area government, and there is also a Commuter Area Government to serve commuter students. Area governments provide social programming for their areas, and are in charge of the house councils for the dorms in their area. They also represent the needs and interests of students in their areas to the Administration, Housing and Residence Life and the SGA.

Area Governments have a tradition of sponsoring large events, generally in the Spring, such as Fill the Hill, Bowl Weekend and Southwest Week.

Each residence hall or residential "cluster" (a group of residence halls) at UMass Amherst has a house council. House councils report to their respective area governments. Its budget comes from voluntary dues collected in return for access to common supplies (access to the kitchenette, rental access to vacuums, brooms, games, etc.). House councils also engage in social programming for their halls or clusters, and advocate to housing staff in regards to concerns of students in their hall/cluster.

Student businesses

The Center for Student Business provides consultation and resources to seven self-sustaining, student-run workers' collectives. Among them are a natural foods nonprofit, a vegetarian café, a bicycle shop, and a print and design shop– all located in the Student Union building– as well as a restaurant and two snack bars, situated in various residential areas.[104] The businesses employ a horizontal structure of governance, with all students participating in decision making processes. Responsibilities such as purchasing, bookkeeping, and hiring are delegated to committees whose members are elected to their positions based on availability and interest. Student businesses at the University of Massachusetts employ more than 130 undergraduate students and generate nearly a million dollars in annual revenue.[105]

UMass Permaculture

UMass Permaculture is one the first university permaculture initiatives in the nation that transforms marginalized landscapes on the campus into diverse, educational, low-maintenance and edible gardens according to UMass officials.[106] One of the most important aspects of UMass Permaculture is that it comes from the students and is ecologically and socially responsible. Rather than tilling the soil, a more sustainable landscaping method known as sheet mulching is employed. During November, 2010, "about a quarter of a million pounds of organic matter was moved by hand",[107] using all student and community volunteer labor and no fossil fuels on-site. The process took about two weeks to complete. Now, the Franklin Permaculture Garden includes a diverse mixture of "vegetables, fruit trees, berry bushes, culinary herbs and a lot of flowers that will attract beneficial insects."[107]

The Franklin and Berkshire permaculture gardens are part of a small closed loop system. Food waste from the dining commons is turned into rich organic compost at NESFI. The compost is then used to sheet mulch the sites and build up the soil. The food produced in this soil goes back into the dining commons to be eaten and again the food waste will be composted. Food waste is typically an externality which ends up in landfills. There is creates methane, a greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.[108]

In the gardens “over 1,500 fruit trees, berry bushes, herbs, flowers, and vegetables” [109] have been planted. The biodiversity mimics natural ecosystems, and different plants fill complimentary biological niches. Biodiversity helps create a stable and sturdy environment. The gardens provide ecosystem services such as water infiltration with planned garden beds. Perennial polycultures are another feature of the gardens which create a low-maintenance, high yield food source.

The Franklin Permaculture Garden does not use fossil fuels on site. The garden is instead maintained through human labor. The use of fossil fuels in industrial agriculture maximizes the possible profits per unit of land but create an externality of greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere and air.[110] The choice to use human labor rather than fossil fuels addresses the issues of resource scarcity and climate change as well as to build community.[109]

UMass permaculture fosters social wealth through community involvement. There have been over 1,000 volunteers since the gardens creation. Student volunteers gain hands on permaculture experience while giving back to the campus. A number of community groups, such as “Big Brother, Big Sister” have also partaken in creating the gardens. The social capitol created has given UMass permaculture economic paybacks. Their campus popularity won them the UMass senior class gift of $25,000 to start the new Berkshire Permaculture Garden.[111] Plants have been donated from community members as well.


The Minuteman Battalion is the institution's Army ROTC battalion. Active on the Amherst campus, the program's Scabbard and Blade community service club is very active and represents UMass well throughout the year with food drives, assistance to local veteran's groups and assistance with the Medical Readiness Corps at UMass in preparing for large-scale medical disasters. Most students are on a full tuition scholarship. UMass-Amherst is the host program for the Pioneer Valley and Five Colleges Army ROTC programs including: Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, Hampshire College, Western New England College (WNEC), Springfield College, Westfield State College and American International College (AIC).

Minuteman Marching Band

The University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band during a pre-game show.

UMass Amherst has the largest marching band in New England. The Minuteman Marching Band consists of over 390 members and regularly plays at football games. The band was led by John Jenkins from 1963 to 1977. In 1977 George N. Parks took over until his death in September 2010. Timothy Todd Anderson became the director in 2011. The Minuteman Band also won the prestigious Sudler Trophy in 1998 for excellence. The band is well known across the nation for its style and excellence, particularly for its battery and pit ensemble. The band also performs in various other places and events like the Collegiate Marching Band Festival in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Bands of America in Indianapolis, Symphony Hall, Boston, and on occasion Montreal.

Greek Life

UMass is home to numerous fraternities and sororities, organized under four councils: IFC, NPC, NPHC, and the MGC. Currently several sororities & fraternities have officially recognized housing in the area including national fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa, whose first chapter was founded at UMass in 1873, Theta Chi, Sigma Delta Tau, Iota Gamma Upsilon and Pi Kappa Alpha. Behind North Pleasant Street there are more fraternity and sorority houses such as Alpha Tau Gamma, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Sigma Kappa, and Alpha Pi Upsilon. Two other houses Sigma Phi Epsilon and Chi Omega are situated on Olympia Drive, on the northern outskirts of the campus. Alpha Delta Phi is also situated on North Pleasant Street just past Lederle and Totman.

The Greek community has several annual traditions, including fundraisers such as UDance, and Relay for Life as well as the annual Greek Week, during which the recognized fraternities and sororities are divided into teams. These teams compete with each other throughout a week of challenges.

Several Greek Life organizations had houses on North Pleasant Street until Alpha Tau Gamma, Inc., which owned a total of nine properties at one point, did not renew the leases at the request of the University. The North Pleasant Street houses were colloquially known as 'Frat Row'. Most of Alpha Tau Gamma's Properties houses were out of code and were razed in November 2006. Alpha Tau Gamma sold the land to the University for $2,500,000 in 2007.[112] ATG, which is the Fraternity of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, then donated $500,001 to endow a new Director of Stockbridge.

Cannabis Reform Coalition

The UMass Amherst Cannabis Reform Coalition (CRC) is the oldest student-run drug reform organization in the United States.[113] The CRC works towards ending cannabis prohibition for both medicinal and recreational uses on a local, state, and national level.[114] Each spring, the CRC puts on the political rally/music festival Extravaganja on the Amherst Town Common. The event brings thousands of people together to support marijuana legalization with a variety of bands, political speakers, and art and food vendors. Extravaganja 2012 was on April 28.[115]


The Massachusetts Daily Collegian[edit]

The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, the official newspaper of UMass Amherst, is published Monday through Thursday during the calendar semester. The Collegian is a non-profit student run organization which receives no funding from the University or from student fees. The Collegian operates entirely on advertising revenues. Founded in 1890, the paper began as Aggie Life, became the College Signal in 1901, the Weekly Collegian in 1914 and the Tri-Weekly Collegian in 1956. Published daily since 1967, the Collegian has been broadsheet since January 1994. The Daily Collegian is one of the largest daily college newspaper in New England and the country.

UVC-TV 19[edit]

The Union Video Center is the University of Massachusetts' student-run television station, located in the basement of the Student Union. UVC-TV 19 is part of the University's Housing Cable Services Network and airs on channel 19 to over 11,000 viewers on campus via a closed circuit system. UVC began as the Student Video Project in 1974, and was renamed the Union Video Center in 1978 after growing into a full-fledged television station. Today, UVC-TV 19 serves as an educational training facility on campus for full-time undergraduate students interested in learning about any aspect of television, video production, or cablecasting by providing access to audio and video equipment, studio, and editing workstations. Student employees/members cover campus events and guest lectures, produce original shows, films and documentaries, and air their work on UVC. Membership to UVC gives students access to check out cameras/other video equipment. It also allows each student the opportunity to learn advanced skills for the production field such as training on editing systems and other high quality film equipment. As a Registered Student Organization (RSO), UVC-TV19 allows undergraduate members to participate in the decision-making and day-to-day operations of managing the facility.

WMUA 91.1 FM[edit]

The student-operated radio station, WMUA, is a federally licensed, non-commercial broadcast facility serving the Connecticut River Valley of Western Massachusetts, Northern Connecticut, and Southern Vermont. Although the station is managed by full-time undergraduate students of the University of Massachusetts, station members can consist of various members of the University (undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff), as well as people of the surrounding communities. WMUA began as an AM station in 1949, and today broadcasts music, news, sports, and public affairs programming. The station is located in the basement of the Lincoln Campus Center.


Main article: UMass Minutemen

UMass is a member of Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The university is a member of the Atlantic Ten Conference, while playing ice hockey in the Hockey East Association. The football team joined the Mid-American Conference (MAC), in order to play at Football Bowl Subdivision (the sport's highest level) with games played at Gillette Stadium in 2012.[116] In March 2014, the MAC and UMass announced an agreement for the Minutemen football team to leave the conference after the 2015 season due to UMass declining an offer to become a full member of the conference. In the agreement between the MAC and the university, there was a contractual clause that had UMass playing in the MAC as a football-only member for two more seasons if UMass declined a full membership offer. UMass announced that it would look for a "more suitable conference" for the team.[117] UMass Amherst has played its last home game at the 17,000-seat McGuirk Stadium on campus while renovations take place to the stadium. The football team may return to the stadium to play some games beginning in 2014.

UMass originally was known as the Aggies, later the Statesmen, then the Redmen. In a response to changing attitudes regarding the use of Native American–themed mascots, they changed their mascot in 1972 to the Minuteman, based on the historical "minuteman" relationship with Massachusetts; women's teams and athletes are known as Minutewomen.

Some journalists[118] consider Boston College, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Rhode Island their biggest sports rivals. Temple University has also been a strong rival in the Atlantic 10, but the rivalry came to an end when Temple moved all of its sports programs to the Big East Conference in 2013.[citation needed]

The UMass Amherst Department of Athletics currently sponsors Men's Intercollegiate Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Ice Hockey, Football, Lacrosse, Soccer, Swimming, and Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field. They also sponsor Women's Intercollegiate Basketball, Softball, Cross Country, Rowing, Lacrosse, Soccer, Swimming, Field Hockey, Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field, and Tennis. Club sports offered which are not also offered at the varsity level are Men's Wrestling, Men's Rowing, Men's Tennis, Women's Ice Hockey, Men's and Women's Rugby, Men's and Women's Bicycle Racing, and Men's and Women's Fencing. Men's and Women's Downhill Skiing have been re-certified as club sports following the April 2, 2009 announcement of their discontinuation as varsity sports.[119]

2010 UMass Football Team at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

Notable people[edit]


There are 243,628 University of Massachusetts alumni worldwide.[120] UMass Amherst graduates include 1 Nobel prize winner,[121] 1 National Humanities Medal winner,[122] numerous Fulbright,[123] Goldwater, Churchill,[124] Truman[125] and Gates Scholars[126] as well as several Pulitzer prize winners, Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Award winners. Well-known UMass Amherst alumni include, Greg Landry, Jeff Corwin, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Taj Mahal, Bill Pullman, William Monahan, Kenneth Feinberg, Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation, Bill Cosby, Hina Rabbani Khar, Natalie Cole, Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Rick Pitino, Betty Shabazz, Jack Welch, Victor Cruz, Alex Marcoux, Jonathan Quick, Jeff Reardon, Jorge Vargas, Mike Flanagan, Bruce Berkowitz, Ben Cherington, Frank Black, Ethan Sullivan and Richard Gere.


Notable faculty have included Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr., a Nobel Prize in Physics laureate, Sheila Bair, the former Chairman of the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Chuck Close, a celebrated photorealist, Vincent Dethier, a pioneer physiologist, Ted Hughes, a British poet laureate, Max Roach, considered one of the most important jazz drummers in history, and entomologist, Lynn Margulis, a famed biologist, and Stephen Resnick, a heterodox economist. Current faculty of note include poet Peter Gizzi, Pulitzer Prize-winning James Tate, media critic Sut Jhally, and feminist economist Nancy Folbre.

Alumni Association[edit]

The slogan of the Alumni Association, "You were. You are. UMASS."[127] The University is campaigning[128] to get Alumni to purchase specialty Massachusetts license plates with the UMass Amherst logo. The proceeds from sales of the plates would go to help fund student scholarships. The University Alumni Association operates out of Memorial Hall.

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Greider, Katharine. (2013). UMass Rising: The University of Massachusetts Amherst at 150. Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Amherst Press. ISBN 978-1-55849-989-8. 

External links[edit]