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BOSTON — New technologies aimed at improving prostate-cancer diagnosis, enhancing employment services for job seekers with disabilities, and optimizing clinical-use treatments for melanoma patients could get closer to market thanks to $250,000 in seed funding announced by the University of Massachusetts.

Ten faculty research projects will each receive up to $25,000 from the Technology Development Fund, an initiative which helps to commercialize scientific breakthroughs throughout the five-campus UMass system. The fund is overseen by the Office of Technology Commercialization and Ventures (OTCV) at the UMass President’s Office in Boston.

The Technology Development Fund awards provide supplemental funding to help close the gap between UMass research discoveries and proven technology that address local, national, and global challenges.

“These faculty innovations showcase how UMass continues to realize long-term growth and achievement in its commercialization enterprise,” said Carl Rust, executive director of Industry Engagement and Business Development, who oversees the OTCV initiative.

Click here for more information about the awards and this year’s recipients.

Daily News

BOSTON — The five-campus University of Massachusetts system research enterprise grew to $752 million in fiscal year 2021, compared to a previous high of $687 million set in 2020.  

“Research is a critical component of the UMass mission,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “The discoveries being made on each of our campuses today will power the Massachusetts innovation economy of tomorrow while confronting challenges ranging from public health to climate change.”  

Support from federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), makes up the largest share of UMass research funding. Federal support grew by 16% in the 2021 fiscal year, and has grown by 26% over the past six years to its current total of $446 million. The largest increases came at UMass Chan Medical School, where total research and development expenditures reached $347 million, 24.5% higher than the previous year.  

The University of Massachusetts is positioning itself for increased federal support of its research and development activity.  

“We’ve been very intentional about aligning our research portfolio with the needs of Massachusetts, the nation and the expertise of the world-class faculty at UMass,” said System Chancellor Katherine Newman. “This continued growth in our research and development enterprise demonstrates the soundness of our strategy and the excellence of our people.”  

Daily News

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts announced it will receive a cash gift of $50 million from Robert and Donna Manning. The gift, the largest of any kind in the university’s history, is aimed at increasing access and opportunity across the five-campus university system.

The first distribution of the $50 million will be $15 million to endow the UMass Boston Nursing program, which will become the Robert and Donna Manning College of Nursing and Health Sciences. The funds will be focused on supporting student diversity and ensuring that the new cohort of nursing professionals are champions of equitable patient care.

Donna Manning’s 35-year career as an oncology nurse at Boston Medical Center inspired the decision to focus the gift on nursing at UMass Boston. Known for her dedication to patients, Manning donated her salary to the hospital each year.

“For the majority of my career in Boston, I was struck by the fact that most of the nurses looked like me while most of the patients didn’t,” she said. “UMass Boston plays a critical role in supporting diversity in Boston, and I have seen firsthand how diversity in the nursing workforce can improve patient care and address health inequities. We look forward to actively working with the college on these important goals.”

The College of Nursing and Health Sciences is the fastest-growing college at UMass Boston and offers the only four-year public programs in Nursing and Exercise and Health Sciences in the Greater Boston area. The undergraduate and graduate population of approximately 2,100 students in the college is 19% black, 12% Latinx, and 11% Asian-American Pacific Islander.

“This transformational gift from Rob and Donna comes at the right time and the right place and for a beautiful cause: to foster a culture of healing and health equity in Boston and beyond. It will enable UMass Boston to take the education of the next generation of nurses nobly serving as caregivers to the next level of excellence and engagement,” UMass Boston Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco said. “Amidst a pandemic, rampant medical disinformation, nursing shortages, and the heroism of healthcare workers, we at UMass Boston are more committed than ever to cultivating extraordinary nursing talent. The Mannings’ historic gift will be put to use to nurture the next generation of health and wellness scientific expertise, but also the humane heart, the empathy and cultural awareness that define caregiving in its truest sense.”

In the coming months, the Mannings plan to announce distributions from the overall gift to improve access and opportunity on the other UMass campuses in Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Worcester.

“Donna and I are at a point in our lives where we want to make a real difference, and this was the best way to do that because we know what UMass does for students. It transforms lives,” said Robert Manning, who is chairman of MFS Investment Management and the long-time chair of the UMass board of trustees. “We firmly believe that UMass is the most important asset in the Commonwealth, and that the greatest thing we can do to support the Commonwealth is to support the UMass campuses and UMass students.”

The $50 million gift from the Mannings is a transformational moment for the UMass system, and would represent the largest-ever commitment received by the university even if it were not an upfront cash gift.

“The significance of this gift cannot be overstated,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “Rob and Donna are two of our own. As first-generation college graduates, they experienced the transformational impact UMass has on students’ lives. Rob and Donna have always led by example in their philanthropy, and this remarkable gift is a call to action to the philanthropic community. It says that UMass is a good investment and an opportunity to have direct and immediate impact on the future of the Commonwealth. On behalf of the five campuses, we thank the Mannings for their incredible generosity and commitment to students.”

The Mannings were already among UMass’ greatest supporters, having committed more than $11 million to UMass Lowell, where the Manning School of Business bears their name. On the Lowell campus, they have endowed several faculty chairs, sponsored a nursing simulation lab, and established the Robert and Donna Manning Endowed Scholarship Fund. The Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to faculty on all five UMass campuses for high-impact teaching.

Daily News

BOSTON — University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan said the university system is emerging from the pandemic period “with its academic, research, and financial strengths fully intact” and positioned to play a major role in driving economic renewal and recovery in the Commonwealth.

“Thanks to the leadership of the board of trustees and the sound management of our chancellors and finance teams, the University of Massachusetts is positioned to thrive — not just for the next fiscal year or decade, but for generations,” Meehan said.

Speaking at a quarterly meeting of the UMass board of trustees, during which the board approved the university’s operating budget for the coming year, Meehan said there are many signs UMass has weathered the COVID-19 storm and is moving forward in its mission of service to the Commonwealth.

For example, the five campuses of the UMass system recently awarded 19,000 degrees to students, the vast majority of whom will live and work in Massachusetts. Meehan projects that student enrollment will remain stable and that each of the UMass campuses will be open to students when the new academic year begins in the fall.

The university is also on course to end this fiscal year with a balanced budget and projects a 6% increase in its workforce, bringing staffing back to pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile it will use $113 million in federal recovery funds to provide emergency grants to students in need while also freezing tuition for most students for a second consecutive year.

“As I said at our recent commencements, we can now feel the breeze of reawakening and recovery flowing throughout the university and in our daily lives,” Meehan said. “UMass answered the call throughout the dark days of the pandemic and will continue to be there for Massachusetts and for the world.”

Rob Manning, UMass board of trustees chairman, said the university established sound goals and benefited from strong management and leadership throughout the pandemic period.

“Over the past year and a half, our driving principles have been simple — preserve the strength of the university and do as much as we can for the students who have been hit hardest by this crisis,” Manning said. “By balancing the need to stabilize operating costs with the imperative to support our neediest students, we have held true to our mission throughout the most challenging of circumstances.”

Both Meehan and Manning also indicated that, while the university is currently on firm financial footing, the expiration of federal funding after this fiscal year, combined with ongoing disruption in the higher-education industry nationwide, will require continued vigilance and innovative management in the coming years.

UMass expects to receive $258.6 million in total federal stimulus funding. In addition to the $113.5 million that will support student emergency grants, the university will strategically invest $145 million of these one-time funds — available through the end of fiscal year 2022 — to create a financial bridge to future fiscal years with the goal of ensuring financial stability for the long term.

“We are grateful to the members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, to the leaders in the U.S. House and Senate, and to the president for stepping up to assist UMass and all of higher education,” Meehan said. “The federal funds are a critical bridge for this fiscal year and next, allowing us to make the necessary strategic decisions to keep UMass financially strong for the long term.”

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BOSTON — University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan announced he will recommend that the university’s board of trustees freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates for the academic year beginning in September. If approved by the UMass board, this would be the second straight year of a tuition freeze at the Commonwealth’s 75,000-student national public research university system.

Meehan made the tuition freeze announcement in his “State of the University” address on the one-year anniversary of UMass transitioning to online learning and work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The message, titled “Answering the Call,” also highlighted the university’s response to the pandemic and its role in supporting the post-pandemic economic recovery of Massachusetts.

“To lessen the financial burden on our students and their families, many of whom have suffered from job losses, business closures, and other impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, I intend to recommend to the UMass board of trustees that we freeze tuition for in-state undergraduate students for the second consecutive year,” Meehan said. “This is made possible by the support of the federal legislative delegation, which recently passed the American Rescue Plan, and our partners in both the state Legislature and Governor Baker’s administration.”

Robert Manning, who chairs the UMass board of trustees, added that “President Meehan’s recommendation reflects his recognition that our students and their families have been dealing with significant financial hardship throughout this pandemic. The board shares this concern, and also knows that the skilled management of the university by President Meehan and our five chancellors makes this freeze possible.”

The average pre-financial-aid in-state undergraduate tuition at UMass was $14,722 for academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21. UMass has the fifth-lowest tuition among the six New England public universities — University of Vermont ($19,062), University of New Hampshire ($18,938), University of Connecticut ($17,834), University of Rhode Island ($15,004), and the University of Maine ($11,712) — this academic year.

UMass awarded $971 million in federal, state, institutional and other financial aid in FY20. Since FY15, institutional aid — funds set aside by the university to decrease actual student costs — has increased 49% to $351 million per year.

Delivering his remarks from a research laboratory at UMass Medical School, Meehan began by acknowledging the pandemic’s impact and emphasizing how the university’s comprehensive response to COVID-19 exemplifies what the university means to Massachusetts.

“Never before has our mission been so perfectly crystallized in one momentous challenge,” he said. “In the darkest hours for Massachusetts, UMass was prepared to answer the call, and we did.”

After outlining the numerous contributions UMass campuses made in the fight against COVID-19, Meehan said the university is working toward “near-normal operations” in the fall, with most students returning to in-person classes, employees returning to work, and “all participating fully in the local economies of our host communities.”

Daily News

BOSTON — Responding to the financial hardships many Massachusetts families are facing, the University of Massachusetts board of trustees voted to freeze tuition rates for in-state undergraduate and graduate students for the 2020-21 academic year.

Across the Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell campuses, tuition will average $14,722 for the nearly 48,000 in-state undergraduate students before financial aid is provided. This keeps UMass mandatory charges nearly $1,000 lower than the average for New England public research universities.

Students will continue to receive nearly $1 billion in federal, state, private, and university-funded financial aid in 2020-21. University-funded financial aid, primarily scholarships and grants, has been increased by $99 million, or 38%, over the last five years, with 94% going to Massachusetts residents.

Tuition for the 9,500 graduate students will continue to range from $14,590 to $18,433 at the four campuses. The board set tuition rates for UMass Medical School at its April meeting.

“Holding the line on tuition is simply the right thing to do this year as so many students and families are facing stress and uncertainty created by an unprecedented national health emergency and economic downturn,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “That means controlling student charges and supporting financial aid so our students are able to pursue their dream of earning a UMass degree.’’

In freezing tuition this year, the university is setting aside its recent practice of increasing tuition at the rate of inflation, forgoing $18.6 million in revenue for the coming year. The loss of revenue is offset, in part, by ongoing efforts of the university to reduce administrative costs. For example, a procurement-consolidation effort launched in January is projected to save $15 million to $20 million by the end of this fiscal year, and an ongoing ‘efficiency and effectiveness’ program started in 2013 has saved $124 million.

“Even as UMass, like higher-education institutions across the country, faces significant budget cuts due to pandemic-related financial challenges, we need to do all that we can to keep a high-quality UMass education within financial reach of Massachusetts students,” said Rob Manning, UMass board of trustees chairman. “I commend President Meehan, the campus chancellors, and their teams for making this possible through sound and innovative management.”

UMass trustees also approved a $3.3 billion operating budget that is $171 million less than last year’s budget.

Meehan said the budget, which funds university operations for the fiscal year that began on July 1, “is in balance at a time when many other colleges and universities, public and private, find themselves in great financial jeopardy. This required the university leadership to make difficult choices, but we take these actions to preserve stability and meet the long-term needs of students. We are continuing to advocate for the highest possible level of state funding and passage of the federal HEROES Act, which could translate into $119 million in emergency funding for UMass.”

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BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts and Chapman University System announced their intent to form an exclusive strategic partnership between UMass Online and Brandman University to expand educational opportunities for adult learners in Massachusetts and across the nation.

This partnership, expected to be finalized later this year, will be launched as millions of adults in Massachusetts and across the U.S. need flexible, high-quality, and affordable online-education alternatives now and as they recover from the economic dislocation caused by COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color.

Based in Irvine, Calif., Brandman was established in 1958 by Chapman University, a 159-year-old private institution in Orange, Calif. Originally founded to deliver high-quality education to active-service military, Brandman has evolved into a widely recognized leader in online education, with a strong record of serving veterans and a diverse range of adult learners.

The partnership will augment UMass Online, which now supports more than 25,000 students, strengthening its technology platform and student-support services tailored to adult learners.

“As our state and national economies are rapidly shifting, we need to do more for adults who are already in the workplace and those who have been displaced to enhance their current skills and develop new ones,” said UMass President Marty Meehan, who first announced plans to scale up online programs for adult learners last year. “Quality, affordability, and flexibility in higher education are needed more than ever to address the troubling lack of economic mobility. Through this partnership, we will deliver for the citizens of the Commonwealth and for learners across the nation. Given the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vivid impact of racial inequality, a venture that previously seemed important to us is now nothing less than essential.”

Meehan recently cited dramatic declines in the number of high-school graduates and employers’ need for a highly skilled workforce in announcing plans to scale up online programming at UMass. He also cited the “troubling lack of economic mobility” among African-Americans and Hispanics. The economic disruption caused by COVID-19 has accelerated these challenges, and the need for new online education programs that remove the obstacles adult learners often face is now even more urgent.

A key target group for the partnership will be adult learners in underserved communities. According to a Strada Network survey of 4,000 adults, most Americans (62%) are concerned about unemployment, but African-Americans are moreso (68%), and their Latinx and Asian counterparts are even more worried (72%). The same study indicated that 53% of adult learners prefer online education opportunities.

“It is not a simple matter to accommodate adults who have to juggle children, jobs, elder care, and college attendance when the classes we offer are largely available during the work day,” said Katherine Newman, chancellor of Academic Programs fior the UMass system. “By far the best solution is to be found in rigorous, creative online education. All of us in higher education discovered how important distance learning is when the pandemic made on-campus classes impossible. But to scale up online education, we are going to need to do much more than translate our current curriculum to Zoom. We need to grow an affordable, flexible form of online education.”

Daily News

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts President’s Office recently announced the launch of its Unified Procurement Services Team, a shared-services project expected to save UMass more than $16 million in administrative costs over the first 12 to 18 months.

The newly established Unified Procurement Services Team (UPST) is the most recent step in the university’s ongoing efficiency and effectiveness (E&E) program that is allowing the university to direct more funds to student financial aid, academic programming, and deferred maintenance. The E&E program was first launched in 2012 to improve services while reducing overall costs. Not including the UPST initiative, the E&E program is projected to save $124 million through 2024.

“The savings realized through this program will allow us to continue making targeted, high-impact investments in the programs and facilities that benefit our students, and ultimately the Commonwealth,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “This work is always critical, but especially so during a time of disruption across the higher-education landscape. As we ask families, the Commonwealth, Congress, and donors to do their part in supporting UMass, we have an obligation to do ours through innovative and collaborative management.”

The UPST consolidates multiple procurement operations into one single unit, reducing administrative payroll and leveraging the university’s purchasing power while increasing collaboration across the Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and UMass Medical School campuses and improving service delivery.

The UPST is being led by David Cho, the university’s new chief Procurement officer, who joined UMass last fall after serving as chief Procurement officer of BlackRock, one of the world’s largest asset-management firms.

The savings realized through the E&E program are achieved through a combination of cost-reduction and cost-avoidance strategies. Since 2012, UMass has initiated 145 projects that are projected to result in more than $124 million in avoided and reduced costs by 2024, not including the projected $16 million in savings from the launch of the UPST.

For example, in 2019, UMass completed a comprehensive review and evaluation of the system’s banking services, resulting in annual savings of approximately $300,000, with a cumulative five-year savings of approximately $1.5 million. UMass also awarded and implemented a new janitorial-supply contract estimated at $3.5 million annually, a projected cost reduction of $580,000. In addition, energy-supply costs have declined, as have related carbon emissions per student and building square footage.