In most states, private colleges live in the shadow of giant state public universities. Around here, University of Massachusetts lives in a state where those private colleges are named Harvard, MIT, BU, BC, Emerson, and Amherst, to name a few. Casting a shadow over that crowd isn’t easy.
But a funny thing happened on the way to commencement day the last few decades. UMass emerged to become a lot more than a cheap ‘safety school’ for high school seniors. Stricter admissions standards, exploding tuitions at private schools, and expanded campuses have made it so that the students being admitted to UMass are brighter than ever, and that means it’s more competitive to get in, and, yes, more expensive.
What started as a small agricultural college in Amherst 150 years ago is now a five-campus university, with a medical school, and locations to the north, the south, and one perched right on the Boston waterfront.
When MIT celebrated its 150th anniversary last year we acknowledged it with a magazine like this. This year it’s UMass’s turn, and for good reason. As we point out with letter “P”, nearly nine out of every 10UMass grads typically stay in state after graduating and help drive the local economy.
As funnyman Bill Cosby told me last month, “I am today who I am, largely because of UMass.” Hey, hey, hey, Fat Albert wasn’t kidding.
Doug Most, Deputy Managing Editor, Features, Dmost@globe.com