Thursday, 4:30 PM
With Meehan at helm, UMass-Lowell unveils $80m expansion
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff
The University of Massachusetts at Lowell announced plans today for an extensive expansion featuring a $80 million center for emerging technologies, marking the first major move of Chancellor Martin T. Meehan's tenure.
The center, which will concentrate on nanotechnology and bio-manufacturing research, would be the first new academic facility on campus in more than 30 years. School officials say it will serve as the cornerstone for a broader plan to expand and modernize the 112-year-old college.
"We need the very best facilities to meet the 21st-century needs of teaching, research, and service," Meehan said at a press conference this morning at the Lowell campus. "We must have them if we are going to put Massachusetts in a position to compete and succeed both nationally and globally."
Meehan, a UMass-Lowell graduate who became chancellor in July after a 15-year stint in Congress, also unveiled plans for two other academic buildings, a 500-space parking garage, and additional student housing.
The technology center will stand on what is now Smith Hall, a dormitory built in 1948. A $15 million parking garage will be constructed adjacent to the center. The site was chosen over four others on the recommendation of campus leaders, city officials, and neighbors.
Political leaders said the research facility will benefit the region's economy by spurring collaboration with high-tech and manufacturing firms.
"From the heyday of the textile mills to today, UMass-Lowell has helped drive the regional economy,” state Senator Steven Panagiotakos, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement. "This emerging technologies center – like a rock dropped into the Merrimack River – will generate waves of new technologies, new industries, and new jobs."
The state has designated $35 million for the new center, and Governor Deval Patrick's higher education bond bill filed earlier this month includes $26 million for one of the other academic buildings.