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UMass approves $546 million in construction projects

BOSTON -- The University's ambitious building program shifted into a higher gear today when a University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees committee approved a borrowing plan that will fund $546 million in construction projects on all five campuses.

The projects to be funded under the plan include:

  • 1,500 beds of new student housing at UMass Amherst, $182 million
  • A new academic building for UMass Boston, $100 million
  • A marine science building at UMass Dartmouth, $25 million
  • A new campus garage for UMass Lowell, $20 million

UMass Medical School does not have a project covered under the upcoming debt issuance, but emerging projects at the Medical School include the $330 million Albert Sherman Center, a state-of-the-art biomedical research and academic center. Work on the Sherman Center is now under way.

$2 billion spent over the past decade

These new projects come on the heels of the largest building program in the University's history, which has seen UMass spend $2 billion on construction and renovation projects over the past decade.

"The University of Massachusetts has been building world-class facilities in keeping with its recent designation as one of the best universities in the world," said President Jack M. Wilson, referring to the recent World University Rankings that list the UMass system as the 56th best university in the world, the only public university in New England even to make the list.

"These are facilities that our students need to have a world-class learning experience and that allow UMass to play a critical role in shaping and fueling the Commonwealth's innovation economy. Investing in academic facilities provides a superior experience for our 66,000 students. Laboratories and other science facilities enable our faculty to generate nearly $500 million in annual research funding and make discoveries that advance our understanding of the world and pay economic dividends by creating new companies and new jobs," President Wilson added.

"New facilities are key to the University's growth strategy - a strategy that we intend to pursue with great energy in the coming years," said Robert J. Manning, chairman of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees.

Economic benefit

James J. Karam, chairman of the Committee on Administration and Finance, noted that an ambitious UMass building program provides short-term and long-term economic benefits.

"At a time when the economy is still recovering, our projects bolster the construction industry and create jobs all across the state. Because we are building academic and research facilities, these projects provide a permanent economic dividend for a state that relies on innovation and brainpower," Karam said.

The new projects will be funded by a bond offering the University of Massachusetts Building Authority (UMBA) plans to go forward with next month. Pointing to historically low interest rates, the academic and economic benefits of the projects and the University's overall financial strength, UMass Building Authority members this week approved the building plan as well. The University, drawing on various revenue sources, pays the debt service on the bonds. The projects to be undertaken are based on campus planning and priorities.

Robert K. Sheridan, chairman of the UMass Building Authority, said the projects to be funded, "Will have an immediate impact on the University of Massachusetts and will bring what has been a historic rebuilding effort to an even higher level. Students, faculty and staff will reap the benefit of these projects for generations to come."

Established in 1960, the University of Massachusetts Building Authority borrows money on the University's behalf to fund construction and renovation projects on all five campuses.

In addition to approving the $546 million building plan, the Board of Trustees' Committee on Administration and Finance today also approved a five-year, $2.5 billion capital plan for the five-campus UMass system.

The capital plan notes that the University has completed $2 billion in construction and renovation projects over the past decade. Projects begun or completed during the past decade include:

  • UMass Amherst, Integrated Sciences Building, $108 million
  • UMass Boston, Integrated Sciences Complex, $152 million
  • UMass Dartmouth, Carney Library renovation, $44 million
  • UMass Lowell, Emerging Technologies Innovation Center, $70 million
  • UMass Medical School, Ambulatory Care Building, $120 million

The past decade's $2 billion in projects were funded by UMass and the state, with UMass paying for 85 percent and the state funding 15 percent.

 "The campuses of the UMass system look far different today than they did a decade ago," President Wilson said. "Over the past decade, we have built classrooms, dormitories, science centers and student recreation facilities. We have upgraded our libraries, our heating plants and our student dining facilities. This has been an award-winning building program - one that elevates UMass and serves as a point of pride for the University and the Commonwealth.  I want to thank the Chancellors and their teams for moving these projects forward. I want to thank our Trustees and Building Authority members for their support and their vision. And I want to thank the Governor, the Legislature and all of the state officials who have served as our partners in this important effort."

Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073


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