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University of Massachusetts receives credit rating upgrade

Stronger rating will reduce borrowing costs

BOSTON -- The University of Massachusetts has received a credit-rating upgrade, UMass President Jack M. Wilson announced today.

With the University of Massachusetts Building Authority about to borrow $567.6 million to finance construction and renovation projects, Fitch Ratings has informed UMass that the University's credit rating has been upgraded to AA from its previous AA-.

Fitch said the bond-rating upgrade was based on a number of factors, including the University's: prudent management, diverse revenue base and position as "the premier public higher education provider in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

Responding to the rating upgrade, President Wilson said: "This strong credit rating is very good news and represents an endorsement of the financial stewardship of the University. It will also reduce borrowing costs as we move forward in our ongoing effort to provide our students, faculty and staff with world-class facilities in keeping with our recent designation as one of the best universities in the world."

Robert J. Manning, chairman of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, said the upgrade was "very welcome news and a tribute to the sound management we see on all five campuses and in our central office."

"President Wilson and the Chancellors should be very proud given that their prudent management is reducing borrowing costs, which benefits students and their families and the Commonwealth as a whole. In these challenging times, this is a very strong endorsement," Chairman Manning said.

David Gray, senior vice president for Administration, Finance, and Technology & Treasurer, said the upgrade was "gratifying and reflective of the hard work that is occurring on the campuses." Gray noted that another rating agency, Moody's Investors Service, recently reaffirmed the Aa2 rating that it had previously assigned to UMass, also citing the University's diverse revenue base and its "strong annual operating performance."

With the University of Massachusetts having completed $2.2 billion in new construction and renovation projects over the past decade, the University's capital-projects arm, the University of Massachusetts Building Authority, is set to go forward with a bond offering next week.

The projects to be funded 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.

The University's Board of Trustees also recently approved a five-year, $2.5 billion capital plan for the five-campus UMass system.

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

10/14/10

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Communications Staff Directory

Robert P. Connolly
Vice President for Strategic Communications and University Spokesperson
617.548.0238 (cell)
617.287.7073 (office)
rconnolly@umassp.edu

Ann Scales
Director of Communications
617.838.3963 (cell)
617.287.4084 (office)
ascales@umassp.edu

JoAnn Conley
Communications Coordinator/Writer
617.287.5538 (Office)
jconley@umassp.edu

Jan Brogan
Senior Writer
617.287.4027 (Office)
jbrogan@umassp.edu

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