University of Massachusetts Amherst

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UMass Amherst Seal

Size 1,450 acres (5.9 km²)
Established 1863
School type Public
Location Amherst, Mass., USA
Enrollment 1 17,644 undergraduate
5,493 graduate
Faculty 2 1,120 full-time
304 part-time
Campus Rural
Colors Maroon and White

The University of Massachusetts Amherst (otherwise known as UMass Amherst or simply UMass) is a university in Amherst, Massachusetts. It is the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system. The other campuses are the UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, and the UMass Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is classified as a Doctoral/Research Universities—Extensive by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, reflecting the breadth of the University's programs, including offerings of over 90 undergraduate and 65 graduate areas of study. The University has distinguished itself in several areas, offering nationally recognized programs in, among other areas, linguistics, computer science, polymer science, creative writing, Latin paedagogy, social thought and political economy (STPEC), and labor studies. The University's library is the tallest library in the world, and is home of the memoirs and papers of the distinguished African-American activist W.E.B. DuBois as well as being the depository for other important collections, such as the papers of the late Congressman Silvio O. Conte.

UMass Amherst is nationally recognized as having one of the most active student bodies. The Resident Assistants at UMass became the first undergraduate body to organize into a labor union. Students used to stage building take-overs and sit-ins in order to force the University administration to change their policies.

The University is home to its own newspaper (The Daily Collegian), radio station (WMUA), and television station (UVC-TV 19)—all are almost totally student-run.

Mission Statement

The University's mission is to provide an affordable and accessible education of high quality and to conduct programs of research and public service that advance knowledge and improve the lives of the people of the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

Trustee Document T05-024


Skyline of the University from the South Athletic Fields

The University was founded in 1863 under the provisions of the Federal Morrill Land Grant University Act to provide instruction to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the "agricultural, mechanical, and military arts". Accordingly, the University was initially named the Massachusetts Agricultural College (or M.A.C.). It was known as this until 1931, due to an increase in enrollment and support from the Commonwealth, it was renamed the Massachusetts State College.

In 1947, the State College filed to become a University, and became the University Of Massachusetts. Like most schools at the time, it was relatively small, enrolling ~5,000 students annually. Some expansion occurred in the 1950's, but the bulk of its transition to the present size occurred in the 1960's. The new president set a goal of expansion to 20,000 by the end of the decade, and the University entered a program of intense building. Many prominent structures rose during this time, including the Southwest Complex, Student Union, Campus Center hotel, Fine Arts Center and famous 26-story library tower. UMass growth drastically altered the regional economy, prompting the commercial development of Route 9 in Hadley, the extension and redirection of several highways (including Routes 9 and 116 in Amherst and 5 in Northampton, aside from the Federal Government's building a 91 addition through to Canada) and the transformation of the town of Amherst from its old Republican order to its progressive activist reputation today. As an old saying goes, "the gown overwhelmed the town."

Five Colleges

UMass Amherst is a part of what is known as the Five Colleges, along with Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges. All Five Colleges are located within a 10 mile radius of Amherst center, and are accessible by public bus. Students attending any of the Five Colleges have access to the facilities of all five, for example they may borrow books from any of the libraries and can take courses at all five schools. Some undergraduate or graduate departments are shared among the five, including the astronomy department ([1]) and students have the opportunity to work with professors from any of the schools.

Buildings and Layout

Home to over 25,000 students, faculty and staff, the campus extends about a mile from the Campus Center in all directions. The University owns significant amounts of land in the nearby town of Sunderland.

The campus may be thought of as a series of concentric rings. In the outermost ring are parking lots, the admissions center, playing fields and barns for the animal science program. In the middle ring there are the five residential areas and dining commons. The innermost ring had most of the classroom buildings and research labs.

The Isenberg School of Management has its buildings in the southernmost part of campus near the Visitors Center and the Newman Center, the Catholic student center. In addition to being the site of the main administration building, Whitmore, the southeast side of campus has buildings mainly dedicated to the humanities and fine arts. Buildings include Herter, Bartlett, Mahar and the Fine Arts Center (Abbreviated "FAC"). Between Whitmore, the FAC and Isenberg lies the Haigis Mall, a local stop on both the PVTA and Peter Pan bus lines. The buildings on the southwest side of campus house the college of social and behavioral science. These include Totman, Dickinson and Tobin.

File:Umass night.jpg
The center of the UMass Amherst campus. To the left is the Old Chapel, and to the right the W.E.B. DuBois Library.

The 26 story WEB Dubois library and the Old Chapel are the notable buildings in the center of campus. The buildings in the center of campus, Goodell and Machmer are mainly used by the Commonwealth Honors College. The Campus Center Hotel is the training ground for the University's Hospitality and Tourism Management students.

The Student Union Building houses most of the student-run businesses and co-ops, and is the home of the Student Government Association. Additionally, the Physical Plant and parking garage are in the center of campus. South College, the home of UMass' world renowned linguistics department, is the oldest building on campus. The library was intended to be an annex to South College.

The north side of campus is mostly dedicated to science and engineering, and many buildings there are newer than their counterparts in the humanities. The Physics Department primarily uses Hasbrouck Lab, located at 666 North Pleasant Street. The Lederle Graduate Research Tower is the largest building on the north side, housing the Math department on its sixteenth floor. As the Math Department headquarters, the sixteenth floor is prominently labeled 4^2.

The Computer Science department recently moved into an airy new building built for them on the edge of campus, though classes are usually taught elsewhere. Between the imposing concrete LGRT, the second-story walkway from it to its sister structure the LGRC, the glass-and-aluminum Computer Science building, and other new buildings for the Engineering and Polymer Science departments, North Campus looks more "high-tech" than the rest of campus.

On campus there are two major gyms, the Totman Center near Northeast and Sylvan and the Boyden Gym to the south. Major sporting events, such as UMass's hockey and basketball team games, are held in the Mullins Center, amidst the fields to the west.

The UMass campus is large, and it takes approximately twenty minutes to walk from one end to the other. Even so, there isn't much space for cars. Some students choose to take the PVTA bus around campus.

Campus Expansion

In 2004, Governor Mitt Romney proposed an ambitious expansion project in which the size and population of the University would almost double as it took over the role of the state's community college system which Romney has begun to consolidate and dismantle. While this proposal received the support of the student government, town residents are exceedingly resistant to any such plan as it would increase the already critical traffic congestion in the center of town. The university also owns land throughout the Pioneer Valley for agricultural and ecological research.

Mitt Romney's stance that an expanded University would take over the role of the state's community college system is contrasted by Vice Chancellor Mike Gargano's comment that those students who could not afford to go to UMass/Amherst should go to community college, and his later comments that UMass/Amherst should be a place for people who wear Abercrombie and Fitch, not Sean John and GAP- a reference to the gentrification of what was once a land-grant state institution.

Following Mitt Romney's mandate, the UMass/Amherst administration (headed up by Chancellor Lombardi and Vice Chancellor Gargano) has pushed for admission of more students than there are residences for and thus, in Fall, 2005, over a thousand students who had been promised housing (with the implicit understanding that it would be a normal 2-person dorm room) were instead placed in hotels and study lounges.

Classrooms are often filled to capacity, and past capacity in some cases.

As the size of incoming classes is constantly increasing, the lack of diversity amongst the student body has become a contentious issue. When the Student Government suspected foul play on part of the campus administration, they sued the school under the Freedom of Information Act, and won. However, Vice Chancellor Gargano has 'refused' to comply with court orders, and Attorney General Thomas Reilly, who is campaigning to become the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has refused to press the issue.

Residential areas

UMass/Amherst Housing Website

There are approximately 10,000 students living on-campus. Because of over-enrollment, over a thousand students do not have normal rooms. They are being lodged in hotels in and around campus, or in the study lounges in the dorms.

Students living on the UMass campus live in one of the five residential areas: Southwest, Central, Orchard Hill, Northeast and Sylvan.

The University is in the process of constructing new residence halls next to Sylvan. These will be apartment-style residences. "New Dirt"


Southwest is the largest residential area, and it houses two of the four campus dining commons. It is composed of five identical 22-story towers (Kennedy, Coolidge, John Quincy Adams, John Adams and Washington) and many smaller buildings, holding a total of around 5,500 students. Southwest houses over 50% of the students living on campus. Longtime residents of Southwest state that living in SW is like living in an entirely separate city -- this high-density, high-volume population is possibly the most diverse region of campus; socially, ethnically, anyone can find a niche. Perhaps because there are so many students in so little space, Southwest is prone to having uncontrolled parties. In recent years, during victories by the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox, the courtyard was filled with students celebrating. Some of them took to flipping cars; others the police beat up and arrested. However, this behavior is not always the norm in Southwest, even if it's most prominent there. Southwest is also home to James Hall, which is a Wellness dorm that prohibits drug and alcohol use. All dorms in Southwest have designated quiet hours. In addition several TAPs (Talent Advancement Programs) for incoming freshman are located in Southwest, particularly in Washington Hall. These programs are designed for incoming students who show particular academic promise in their chosen major to live on one or more floors with other similar majors. Students in a TAP will usually sign up for many of the same classes, so studying is made easier by the close proximity of others in the same classes. Each TAP program has weekly seminars and occasional field trips designed to orient students to the university and get them interested in the diversity of subjects offered at UMass. TAP programs, which are by invite-only, as well as RAPs (Residential Academic Programs), are also common in Orchard Hill Residential Area. Southwest has a convenience store, a small art gallery as well as the Hampshire Snack Bar.


As the name suggests, Northeast is located on the opposite side of campus from Southwest. The residential area consists of nine buildings assembled in a rectangle surrounding a grassy quad. With smaller buildings, Northeast tends to be one of the quieter areas.

Buildings of note in Northeast include Knowlton, an all female dorm, Hamlin, an all male dorm, and Lewis, a dorm which allows students to live there for 9 months out of the year.

Thatcher House is also of note. Housing so called "foreign-language" students, the residents are expected to speak the language they are studying at all times. The dorm is extremely difficult to get into, only foreign language students with high GPAs can expect to get housing there.

Northeast's proximity to the engineering department have given it the reputation as being one of the more low-key residential areas on campus, but also one where students under the stress of difficult studies enjoy letting off steam. For many years, on one night each spring during finals week, an impromptu gathering of students takes place in the field between the halls - The Quad. Once the students have been outside for a short time, loosely organized streaking takes place.


Sylvan is in the woods a short way up the road from Northeast. Rooms in Sylvan are arranged into 6 to 8-person suites. It was originally built to be Graduate Housing where five graduate students would share a suite. Then, due to the large influx of new undergraduates, the dorm was changed to an undergraduate housing area. It is considered the smallest living area on campus due to the fact that the dorm rooms usually have 2 occupants (although they were originally designed to house one student) and has a reputation for being relatively quiet and rather boring. However, many students choose to live in suites with their friends and have parties in the common room, breaking the myth that "Sylvanites" are unsociable and non-partiers. Residents in Sylvan enjoy a private bathroom in each suite containing two or three toilets, two sinks, and one shower.


Central has nine residence halls located along a hill on the east side of campus. Central is also home to the Central Art Gallery in Wheeler and Greeno Sub Shop in Greenough.

Central also has several non-residential buildings, making it unique amongst living areas. Fernald Hall, also known as "the Bug Lab", Hills, and New Africa House are all academic and office buildings. Hills houses the Study Abroad office, the Mental Health resource center, the architecture/landscaping department, and several graduate classrooms. New Africa House was renovated in 2004 and early 2005, and contains the African American Studies Department.

Central is organized into 4 clusters of buildings: Gorman-Wheeler and Brett-Brooks at the bottom of the hill, Baker, Chadbourne and Greenough ("BCG") organized in a quad halfway up the hill, and Van Meter-Butterfield ("Butter-meter") at the top of the hill.

Gorman Hall is a building-wide Living Learning Community called NUANCE. Founded in 1989, it is a diversity awareness LLC. Wheeler is home to the Central Art Gallery.

Brett is where the Pixies met, and besides being home to hockey team, it is completely wheelchair-accessible dorm. Brooks is substance-free housing.

Baker is the Area Office. Chadbourne houses the Josephine White Eagle Native American Cultural Center. Greenough has the Area's student-run business, Greeno Sub Shop.

Butterfield Hall is now an all freshman dorm, but it once housed upperclassmen and was known for its parties and drug use. After a few mishaps from the junior and senior residents, the interior was practically rebuilt and designated for incoming freshman.

Orchard Hill

The Orchard Hill residence area is north of Central, and has four residence halls: Dickinson, Webster, Grayson and Field (the latter two are connected and share offices). Orchard Hill is known for its yearly spring event, Bowl Weekend. Many students from the Commonwealth College honors program live in Orchard Hill as part of the Talent Advancement Program TAP Program.

Orchard Hill (in Field) is the location of the student-run business Sweets n’ More, opening during evenings that sells treats and snacks.

Orchard Hill also refers to the hill on which the Orchard Hill Observatory and a cell phone tower are located. The cell phone tower also supports a microwave relay system for internet and land phone service at the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory, located on a peninsula within the Quabbin Reservoir (according to Dr. Ronald Snell, UMass Amherst Astronomy Department chair, circa 2003).


UMass Amherst is a member of Internet 2.

At UMass, SPIRE is a web-based system used to register for courses, as well as a variety of other tasks. In the winter of 2003, the Office of Information Technologies (OIT) rolled out the SPIRE system, which is based on PeopleSoft's student information system. Reactions were initially favorable, but over the next year people began criticizing it for its confusing user interface (UI), among other issues. An attempt at resolving some of the UI complaints over the summer caused more serious problems. SPIRE was unavailable for most of the first week of the Fall 2004 semester, although other components of the PeopleSoft system functioned normally. Some have claimed that the university purchased PeopleSoft as the result of an executive conflict of interest. PeopleSoft is currently being sued by Cleveland State University for fraud.

Some classes have OWL (Online Web-based Learning) assignments. Giving homework through the OWL system allows students to see whether and where they failed and gives them an opportunity to fix their work faster than traditional paper-based homework assignments. Some students believe that it has little educational value or that using OWL is a waste of time. Since OWL assignments are graded by a computer and usually don't require students to show intermediate steps, students try to complete their assignments with the least amount of effort. Another criticism of owl is its inflexibility: the professor needs to write in every possible answer OWL will accept, allowing for the possibility that a student would get the right answer, but leave it in the wrong format. Indeed this inputting of the correct answer in the wrong format occurs frequently and students have reported that they find it very frustrating.

Some classes, particularly online, use a Blackboard Prometheus based system, to organize and track classes, and provide a portal to information.

Some computer science classes use TWiki as their course web page.

For some lectures, students are required to purchase a PRS transmitter from the campus store or certain locations in Amherst. A PRS transmitter, similar to a TV remote control, allows students to answer multiple-choice questions during lectures, providing a level of feedback.

OIT supports Mac OS and Windows, but not Linux or other operating systems. However, most OIT employees are sympathetic to Linux users.

On October 21, 2005 UMass Amherst was designated as the first-in-the-nation Microsoft IT Showcase School by CEO Steve Ballmer, recognizing the university’s innovative leadership in applying information technology to teaching and learning.

Campus Life

Greek Life

This is a UMass-related stub. Information available at

UMass Athletics

According to the UMass Athletics website

"Uniquely linked with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, UMass Amherst's mascot was selected in 1972. Once known as Aggies and later Redmen, Massachusetts athletic teams became Minutemen and Minutewomen in the early 1970s. More than a mascot, the name reflects the Commonwealth’s historic role in the American Revolution when colonial militia (armed citizens) turned out to fight the British at a minute's notice." <-- this is copied straight from the website, please rewrite.

This is a UMass-related stub. Information available at UMass Amherst is part of the so-called "A-10".

Registered Student Organizations

This is a UMass-related stub. Information available at

Student Government

This is a UMass-related stub. Information available at At UMass, student government is a large, active, and very visible part of campus life.


Located on the 2nd floor of the Student Union building, the SGA is the head of student government

The Area Governments

There are a total of 6 area governments. Each of the campus's 5 residential areas have an Area Government, and there is a so-called "Commuter Area Government" to serve the needs and express the interests of the commuter students.

House Councils

Each residential House at UMass Amherst has a House Council. The House Council reports to the Area Government. Its budget comes from voluntary dues collected in return for access to common supplies (access to the kitchenette, rental access to vacuums, brooms, games, etc).

Academic Departments


School/College of______
Majors available

Undergraduate Program

  • College of Engineering

Chemical Engineering; Civil & Environmental Engineering; Electrical & Computer Engineering; Mechanical & Industrial Engineering

  • College of Humanities and Fine Arts

Afro-American Studies; Art; Classics; English; History; Judaic & Near Eastern Studies; Languages, Literatures, & Cultures; Linguistics; Music & Dance; Philosophy; Slavic & East European Studies; Theater; Women's Studies

  • Isenberg School of Management

Accounting & Information Systems; Finance & Operations Management; Hospitality & Tourism Management; Management; Marketing; Sport Management

  • College of Natural Resources and the Environment

Environmental Sciences; Food Science; Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning; Microbiology; Natural Resources Conservation; Plant, Soil & Insect Sciences; Resource Economics; Veterinary & Animal Sciences

  • College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Astronomy; Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Biology; Chemistry; Computer Science; Geosciences; Mathematics & Statistics; Physics; Polymer Science & Engineering

  • School of Public Health and Health Sciences

Communication Disorders; Exercise Science; Public Health; Nutrition

  • College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Anthropology; Communication; Economics; Legal Studies; Political Science; Psychology; Social Thought and Political Economy; Sociology

  • Stockbridge School of Agriculture

Arboriculture and Community Forest Management; Equine Industries; Fruit and Vegetable Crops; Horticulture; Landscape Contracting; Turfgrass Management

Design an interdisciplinary major

Graduate Program

Doctor of Education, Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Education, Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study

Master's Programs Master of Science in Accounting Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management Master of Science in Sport Management Master of Business Administration Professional Master of Business Administration

Notable alumni

See also

External links

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