UMass gets science money
AMHERST — Gov. Deval Patrick announced $607 million in capital investments across the University of Massachusetts system on Tuesday, a funding package that includes $85 million for a new physical science building at UMass Amherst.
The announcement was made to coincide with the university system’s 150th anniversary. Patrick said the move would help high-quality instructional and research facility projects move forward at all of the system’s five campuses, and leave the state better placed to compete in the global economy.
“Education is Massachusetts’ calling card around the world and central to our competitiveness in the global economy,” Patrick said in a statement. “We invest in education because we believe that it is the single most important investment government can make in our collective future.”
The projects announced by Patrick Tuesday, which also include a $10 million business school at UMass Lowell and a new $100 million academic building at UMass Boston, are funded by a $607 million bond.
In 2007, the state passed a $2 billion higher education bond bill. Funding for that bill has paid for the $160 million Life Sciences Laboratory, due to be completed in the spring, and a $91 million academic classroom building, which is expected to be finished by the spring of 2014.
Some of the funding from the 2007 bond bill has not been spent, according to UMass officials.
Patrick’s comments marked the second major funding announcement for UMass Amherst in as many weeks. Last week, the university announced it had been awarded a $308,000 planning grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Board.
The grant is intended to pave the way for a $95 million expansion of UMass Amherst’s life sciences program. That expansion remains at least two years away, according to university officials.
UMass Amherst spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said the new physical science building will be designed to accommodate the university’s physics and chemistry programs.
“Investments like the ones the governor is announcing today give us our edge and help us expand economic opportunity throughout the state and to the next generation of leaders,” UMass President Robert Caret said in a statement.
The school has yet to decide where the new building will be located, but it will likely be built in the northern part of campus near the other science buildings, he said. A decision on its location will likely be made in the “coming months,” Blaguszewski said.
UMass Amherst is currently conducting a study to determine what type of classrooms, laboratories and support space are needed in the new building.
Once that study is completed, the school will begin designing the building. Construction is likely four to five years away, Blaguszewski said.
The physical sciences building was included on the university’s 2013 capital plan, he said.
The $607 million funding announced by Patrick Tuesday also includes $112,501 to expand UMass Amherst’s Service-Learning Faculty Fellows program.