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The University of Massachusetts Amherst (otherwise known as UMass Amherst or simply UMass) is a public research and land-grant university in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States, and the flagship of the University of Massachusetts system. With approximately 1,300 faculty members and more than 29,000 students, UMass Amherst is the largest public university in New England and is ranked the 29th best public university in the nation.
The university offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees in 111 undergraduate, 75 master's and 47 doctoral programs in nine schools and colleges. The main campus is situated north of downtown Amherst. In a 2009 article for MSN.com, Amherst was ranked first in Best College Towns in the United States. In 2012, U.S. News and World Report ranked Amherst among the Top 10 Great College Towns in America. It is also a member of the Five College Consortium.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is categorized as a Research University with Very High research activity by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In fiscal year 2014, UMass Amherst had research expenditures exceeding $200 million.
UMass Amherst sports teams are called the Minutemen and Minutewomen, the colors being maroon, black, and white; the school mascot is Sam the Minuteman. All teams participate in NCAA Division I. The university is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, while playing ice hockey in Hockey East and football in the FBS level Mid-American Conference (MAC).
The university was founded in 1863 under the provisions of the Federal Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to provide instruction to Massachusetts citizens in the "agricultural, mechanical, and military arts." Accordingly, the university was initially named the Massachusetts Agricultural College, popularly referred to as "Mass Aggie" or "M.A.C." In 1867, the college had yet to admit any students, had been through two Presidents, and still had not completed any college buildings. In that year, William S. Clark was appointed President of the college and Professor of Botany. He quickly appointed a faculty, completed the construction plan, and in the fall of 1867 admitted the first class of approximately 50 students. Clark became the first functioning President and arguably the primary founding father of the college.
The original buildings consisted of Old South College (a dormitory located on the site of the present South College), North College (a second dormitory once located just south of today's Machmer Hall), the Chemistry Laboratory, also known as College Hall (once located on the present site of Machmer Hall), the Boarding House (a small dining hall located just north of the present Campus Parking Garage), the Botanic Museum (located on the north side of the intersection of Stockbridge Road and Chancellor's Hill Drive) and the Durfee Plant House (located on the site of the new Durfee Conservatory).
Although enrollment was slow during the 1870s, the fledgling college built momentum under the leadership of President Henry Hill Goodell. In the 1880s, Goodell implemented an expansion plan, adding the College Drill Hall in 1883 (the first gymnasium), the Old Chapel Library in 1885 (one of the oldest extant buildings on campus and an important symbol of the University), and the East and West Experiment Stations in 1886 and 1890. The Campus Pond, now the central focus of the University Campus, was created in 1893 by damming a small brook. The early 20th century saw great expansion in terms of enrollment and the scope of the curriculum. The first female student was admitted in 1875 on a part-time basis and the first full-time female student was admitted in 1892. In 1903, Draper Hall was constructed for the dual purpose of a dining hall and female housing. The first female students graduated with the class of 1905. The first dedicated female dormitory, the Abigail Adams House (on the site of today's Lederle Tower) was built in 1920.
By the start of the 20th century, the college was thriving and quickly expanded its curriculum to include the liberal arts. In recognition of the higher enrollment and broader curriculum, the college was renamed Massachusetts State College in 1931.
Following World War II, the G.I. Bill, facilitating financial aid for veterans, led to an explosion of applicants. The college population soared and Presidents Hugh Potter Baker and Ralph Van Meter labored to push through major construction projects in the 1940s and 1950s, particularly with regard to dormitories (now Northeast and Central Residential Areas). Accordingly, the name of the college was changed in 1947 to the "University of Massachusetts."
- In the U.S. News & World Report’s annual college guide we rank 29th among the nation’s top public universities.
- UMass Amherst was rated the 25th most efficient among top-rated national universities in a new U.S. News & World Report ranking category.
- For a fifth consecutive year, UMass Amherst is among the 100 Best Values in Public Colleges compiled by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.
- The Bloomberg Businessweek undergraduate school rankings for 2014 rated the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst at No. 36, an impressive jump of nine places in the survey compared to the previous year.
- Money magazine ranks UMass Amherst among the nation’s best colleges based on most bang for the tuition buck.
- We rank among the top 200 programs worldwide in 17 academic disciplines, according to the 2014 QS World University Subject Ratings.
- We are ranked among the top 10 research universities nationwide for our commitment to leadership in sustainability by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
UMass is home to numerous fraternities and sororities, organized under four councils: IFC, NPC, NPHC, and the MGC. Currently several sororities & fraternities have officially recognized housing in the area including national fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa, whose first chapter was founded at UMass in 1873, Theta Chi, Sigma Delta Tau, Iota Gamma Upsilon and Pi Kappa Alpha. Behind North Pleasant Street there are more fraternity and sorority houses such as Alpha Tau Gamma, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Sigma Kappa, and Pi Kappa Phi. Two other houses Sigma Phi Epsilon and Chi Omega are situated on Olympia Drive, on the northern outskirts of the campus. Kappa Sigma is also situated on North Pleasant Street just past Lederle and Totman. The university is also home to a chapter of Zeta Beta Tau and Tau Kappa Epsilon. Sororities without houses include Alpha Chi Omega and Alpha Epsilon Phi.
Several Greek Life organizations had houses on North Pleasant Street until Alpha Tau Gamma, Inc., which owned a total of nine properties at one point, did not renew the leases at the request of the University. The North Pleasant Street houses were colloquially known as 'Frat Row'. Most of Alpha Tau Gamma's Properties houses were out of code and were razed in November 2006. Alpha Tau Gamma sold the land to the University for $2,500,000 in 2007. ATG, which is the Fraternity of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, then donated $500,001 to endow a new Director of Stockbridge.
Academic Quality and Student Success
- Our students are bright, bold, unconventional thinkers. Applications doubled during the past decade, and more than 40,000 students applied for 4,685 seats in the Class of 2019. Academic quality stands at an all-time high with average combined SATs at 1226 and high school average GPAs at 3.83.
Our Commonwealth Honors College recruits the best and the brightest, with average SATs at 1357 and average GPAs at 4.21. In 2013 we opened one of the nation’s premier residential honors colleges, a $188 million, six-building complex for living and learning.
- The range and quality of UMass Amherst’s academic offerings are nationally recognized. More than 28,000 students are enrolled, including nearly 21,000 undergraduates from 68 countries and 49 states.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education has recognized UMass Amherst as one of the nation’s top-producing research universities for student Fulbright scholarships during 2014–15. The current 14 Fulbright scholarships are a campus record.
- Our students benefit from state-of-the-art facilities. Over the past decade, we have transformed the Commonwealth’s flagship campus through $1.4 billion in new construction and renovations; another $1.4 billion in improvements is in the works.