Springfield celebrating opening of UMass downtown center

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In the heart of Springfield is a promise of hope to students and businesses. There is now a permanent University of Massachusetts Springfield satellite campus downtown.

The UMass Center at Springfield, as it is known, occupies a 26,000 square foot space at Tower Square. It’s been open since the beginning of the semester for students, but Wednesday was the celebration of its permanent place in the City.

It allows students to take classes in fields including management, health care, and education. It also will offer programs in conjunction with the Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Boston campuses of UMass, as well as Holyoke Community College, Springfield Technical Community College, and UMass online.

“Throughout the Commonwealth, the investments we’ve made in education in innovation and in infrastructure have been a winning strategy, but they have to be tailored for the conditions in particular regions,” said Governor Deval Patrick, who also got a tour of the facility and watched a demonstration from students in the nursing program.

In this region, the goal is to provide an education to students who can then contribute to the Greater Springfield economy.

“There are thousands of middle jobs that go unfilled in the Commonwealth and what we’re doing here…is basically creating a healthy pool of talent,” UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Henry Thomas III told 22News.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said that will reduce crime and poverty in the City.

There are 300 students already enrolled at this Springfield facility. The most popular majors are nursing and management. We spoke with some nursing students about the opportunities they’re now able to have.

“Well Springfield living in Hartford is definitely a lot closer for me…A lot of them are definitely from this area, there’s some from Chicopee, some from Springfield, so it’s definitely been easier for them too, especially rather than them going to Amherst,” said nursing student Julie Pereira of Hartford, CT.

“The distance between Amherst and Springfield just got a lot shorter,” UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said.

“A lot of people in Amherst have, for a long time, have really wanted to help make a difference here in Springfield, but it’s been sort of a start and stop efforts and things, and having this permanent presence is going to make a big difference,” said Steve Goodwin, Dean of Natural Sciences at UMass Amherst.

UMass leaders hope to double the Springfield facility’s size in the near future. Right now, the UMass Center in Springfield offers 24 programs to get certificates, Bachelors and Masters Degrees.

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