For its first century, University of Massachusetts had one home. Amherst. Then in the first quarter of its second century, it added four new homes. In 1965 a second campus opened in Park Square in downtown Boston. Six years later, UMass Medical School enrolled its first class in Worcester (a year after that UMass Boston moved from downtown to its sprawling campus in Dorchester overlooking the water). Finally, in 1991, campuses in Dartmouth and Lowell were added, and, just like that, the state’s flagship university was everywhere.
The moment was capped by Governor William Weld signing legislation creating the official five-campus UMass, with one board of trustees, and one president (the interim president named at the time was Elbert K. Fretwell Jr.).
That expansion is why today UMass’s five campuses dwarf its competition around the state in current students (a record 70,874 total) and alumni (259,000 in-state UMass alums, double the number of Boston University).
Each campus has carved out its own niche, built largely on location. To the south, Dartmouth’s proximity to Fall River, New Bedford, and the ocean play out at the School of Marine Science and Technology. To the north, in the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, what was once a teaching college and a textile school for training technicians is now UMass Lowell, still focused aggressively on entrepreneurship and innovation.