Corrections, Nantucket, and UMass Alumni Club

Gintautas Dumcius

Corrections and Dorms

The Boston Globe recently ran a correction on UMass Boston dorms, after writing an August 18 story on student housing shortages at UMass Amherst. The story had mentioned that UMass Boston has dorms, when students (and community members) know otherwise.

The Globe’s correction read: “UMass Boston does not provide student housing.” The Globe is on Morrissey Boulevard, almost across the street from the university.

But thinking UMass Boston has dorms appears to be an easy mistake to make. The Princeton Review, which ranked UMass Boston as one of 151 colleges to be named Best in the Northeast, quoted one student as saying, “My nonclass-related life happens exclusively outside the university.”

The review then went on to note that, “Things could change in coming years. The school is set to open its first dormitories in August 2004, and plans to make more dorms available in following years.”

The issue of dorms was hotly debated during ex-Chancellor Jo Ann Gora’s term, as it ran into opposition mainly from surrounding community members and their local legislators, looking to avoid a “ZooMass 2,” as UMass Amherst has been referred to. In May 2003, Gov. Mitt Romney had cancelled a bond sale, worth $371 million; $218 million of which was meant to go to dorms. Then-UMass President William Bulger ended up withdrawing plans for the project, which now sits in limbo.

Nantucket Deal A Win For University, Says UMass

UMass officials have hailed the impending sale of the Nantucket Field Station, where UMass Boston professors and students have studied biology, as a positive step for the university system.

“It opens up all sorts of opportunities for the university,” said Robert Connolly, spokesperson for the UMass President’s Office.

UMass and a Nantucket conservation group signed a $20 million land deal earlier this year that will add to the university’s endowment and preserve the island property. The land was donated to UMass Amherst, but Boston campus professors consider themselves stewards of the property and were upset, feeling left out of the process that leaves UMass as a tenant, rather than owner.

UMass officials said the Boston campus’ access to the field station will not change, and the university system, including UMass Boston, will be able to use $20 million to attract or retain faculty and fund projects, such as seeding research.

At the last UMass trustees meeting in August, the field station was renamed the Grace Grossman Environmental Center, after the environmental activist associated with Nantucket who passed away recently.

UMass Looking to Build Alumni Club

The University of Massachusetts is looking at the idea of starting an alumni club similar to ones at Boston College, Harvard University, and Boston University, for social and networking activity, reports the Boston Business Journal.

“I think it’d be great,” UMass Amherst alumnus Ned Williams, a partner at Brook Venture Partners in Wakefield told the Journal. “The business aspect, the social aspect … there’s got to be more University of Massachusetts graduates in Boston than many other schools. It’s a way to draw together local professionals. I think it’d be tremendous.”

With the help of a consultant, UMass is surveying alumni about the idea. The responses, at least those quoted in the Journal, so far appear to be enthusiastic to receptive.

Sean LeBlanc, who sits on UMass Amherst Alumni Association’s board of directors, and is a partner of Union Capital Partners, told the Journal, “I don’t think there’s any harm at looking into or exploring the possibility of establishing a physical club for alumni in downtown Boston.”