News: Featured Stories

December 18, 2017

President’s Report: Record-breaking growth, impact for UMass in 2017


  • The UMass System

​As 2017 draws to a close, I’m proud to report that we experienced a year of record-breaking growth and impact at UMass, marked by milestones across our five campuses that signal we are fulfilling our mission to advance knowledge and transform lives in the Commonwealth and beyond. With 2018 fast approaching, I wanted to look back and recap some of our top achievements from the past year:  

A world-class university 

Students in a UMass lecture hall

For the second year in a row, UMass was one of the only public university systems in the nation to have all of its undergraduate campuses ranked as National Universities in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges list, solidifying our position as one of the nation’s leading public university systems:

  • UMass Amherst maintained its spot among the elite Top 30 Public Universities and the top 75 among all National Universities, public or private.
  • After making the list for the first time last year, UMass Boston and UMass Dartmouth made rapid gains, both nearly cracking the Top 200.
  • UMass Lowell continues to knock on the door of the Top 150 overall and remains in the Top 80 public universities.
  • UMass Medical School was ranked No. 1 in New England for primary care education and 14th nationally.

I’m incredibly proud of these rankings, which validate our commitment to excellence and to ensuring that the citizens of the Commonwealth have access to world-class public higher education.

Record funding for financial aid

UMass Amherst students

This fiscal year, UMass will dedicate a record $347 million to financial aid to ensure that qualified students — regardless of their means — have access to a transformative UMass education. At a time when federal tax policy is threatening college affordability, keeping UMass accessible and affordable for all students is a top priority, and we’re committed to doing everything in our power to ease the financial burden of higher education on students and their families.

Growing research and development impact

Kyle Swainamer '18 conducts research at UMass Amherst

In June, the National Academy of Inventors ranked UMass No. 36 among universities worldwide for patents awarded, with 58 patents in 2016 stemming from research in areas ranging from vaccines to prosthetic limbs — 32 from UMass Medical School alone. This is the second year in a row that UMass has placed in the top 40 on this prestigious list, an incredible achievement that highlights the ingenuity of our faculty and our growing research enterprise, with the five campuses now conducting more than $632 million dollars of R&D annually — second in the state only to Harvard and MIT.  

The largest graduating class in history

Students at UMass Amherst commencement

This past spring, we graduated our largest class in history, with more than 17,700 graduates earning degrees, a tremendous milestone that reflects that more and more students and their families are recognizing the value of a UMass education. In light of the fact that the majority of our graduates stay to live and work in the Commonwealth, I consider this an important achievement not just for UMass, but for Massachusetts as a whole.

A new leader for UMass Dartmouth

Dr. Robert Johnson speaking with students

In July, UMass Dartmouth began an exciting new chapter when Dr. Robert E. Johnson took the helm as chancellor of the SouthCoast campus. Dr. Johnson is a visionary, entrepreneurial leader who previously served as president of Becker College and increased enrollment there to record levels, improved student success and significantly elevated the reputation of the college. In fact, under his leadership, Becker College was named one of the “best institutions for undergraduate education” by The Princeton Review for five consecutive years. I was proud to recommend Dr. Johnson as chancellor, and I know that he will help usher UMass Dartmouth into a new era.

Record growth, new leadership for UMassOnline

A student works on her laptop

This year, UMassOnline achieved record-high enrollment and revenue, with course enrollments reaching 75,565 for FY17, up 6.6 percent from the previous year, and revenues surpassing $100 million for the first time ever, up 9.2 percent from Fiscal Year 2016. This is an important milestone that highlights our commitment to providing innovative, flexible offerings to our students through online education. We’re also excited to welcome Don Kilburn, former president of Pearson North America, who becomes CEO of UMassOnline in January. Don is an expert and an innovator in online education who has successfully run the largest division of the largest educational company in the world, and I’m confident he will help make a UMass education even more affordable and accessible for a diverse community of learners across the Commonwealth and around the globe.

Launching the search for UMass Boston’s next leader

Students on the UMass Boston campus

In October, we launched a global search for a new UMass Boston chancellor, assembling the most diverse chancellor search committee in UMass history and bringing on Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), as a consultant to the search. I am deeply passionate about UMass Boston’s critical mission of access, opportunity and transformation, and I believe that with the right leadership, UMass Boston is uniquely positioned to achieve unprecedented success, so I’m committed to doing everything in my power to ensure that happens. I am also deeply grateful to Interim Chancellor Barry Mills for his hard work in creating a strong foundation of financial stability on which the new chancellor will be able to build.

Tirelessly advocating for our students

President Meehan speaks at a news conference
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Though 2017 was a tremendous year for UMass, it certainly was not without its challenges, many of them stemming from new federal policies that impacted our students, faculty and staff. But I'm proud to report that no matter what challenge we faced, we stood united across the five campuses and in collaboration with local leaders to advocate on behalf of our students, faculty and staff — and will continue to do so any time their best interests are threatened.

Over the course of the past year, we worked with Attorney General Maura Healey to challenge President Trump’s executive orders on immigration; we opposed a federal tax reform package that unfairly targets college students and threatens college affordability; we stood in solidary with Dreamers in opposing the Trump administration’s decision to sunset the DACA program; and we reaffirmed our commitment to inclusion, equality and justice in the wake of violent events at the University of Virginia in August. Through it all, one message was clear: At UMass, we will do everything in our power to fight for our students, faculty and staff and create an atmosphere where people of all backgrounds feel safe and valued.

Thank you

Lastly, I want to thank you for all you did in support of UMass in 2017. Without your help, none of these achievements would have been possible. While there’s plenty of work to do in 2018 and beyond, I’m proud of what we accomplished as a team in 2017. The past year has solidified that we are all united in a single cause — to provide a world-class education that is affordable and accessible for all people, and to transform lives across the Commonwealth and around the world. I believe we are achieving that goal, and I’m honored to work with the five chancellors and on behalf of our incredible students, faculty and staff to help this great university reach even greater heights.

President Meehan's digital signature

Martin T. Meehan
President, University of Massachusetts