UMASS Lowell Part of the Economic Boom
In today’s Globe Rob Gavin (formerly a Lowell SUN staffer) gives us an account of the many projects the UMass system is undertaking across its five campuses. He calls them “another sign of its growing impact on regional economies.” The projects bring federal and private dollars into the Commonwealth and importantly it impacts the job market. UMASS Lowell under the direction of Chancellor Marty Meehan is an extremely important part of this initiative especially in the areas of science and research and community life.
In Lowell, UMass snapped up a struggling 252-room hotel for $15 million, about one-third of its appraised value, and invested another $5 million to renovate the building into an inn, conference center, and much-needed housing for its growing student population. Student housing fees and income generated from inn operations and conferences — which have already attracted some 23,000 visitors to downtown Lowell — are paying off the bonds that financed the acquisition and renovations.
“Years ago, the attitude was the state would provide,’’ UMass president Jack M. Wilson said. “Now, we’re taking a very business-like approach, and looking for people to come in with an entrepreneurial outlook, not an entitlement culture.’’
Read Gavin’s full article here – it includes video comments from UMASS Presdient Jack Wilson.
One Response to UMASS Lowell Part of the Economic Boom
All well and good but the state legislature needs to do everything it can to continue to make this an affordable publc university system and not one where increasingly budgets are balanced by raising fees to students while claiming the ‘tuition’ has not gone up. I wonder now what the percentage of the costs of operating the UMass system are covered by the state budget as opposed to running the PUBLIC university more like a private enterprise. UMass should leave no rock unturned in its search for research dollars and donations but this effort should not result in a zero sum budget whereby the state can continuously reduce its percentage of funds designated to higher education. We need growth not water-treading!
Finally, while I applaud the increases in research dollars attracted, I am more interested in seeing how the research translates into jobs for residents in the high unemployment areas of the Commonwealth. This requires a purposeful approach to sustainable innovation and long-term employment creation, historically things the UMass system has not been so good at. I know it is being worked on but it must take center stage or all of this building will simply result in future students’ debt burden going up and an increase in a host of hidden fees to pay later for the current building boom.
Full disclosure – I teach at UMass Lowell.