University of Massachusetts Amherst

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University seal
"Old Chapel" (1884–1886)

The University of Massachusetts Amherst - UMass Amherst for short or simply UMass - is an internationally renowned state university in the small town of Amherst in the west of the US state of Massachusetts .

It was founded in 1863 as the Massachusetts Agricultural College and today forms the main campus of the University of Massachusetts , the state university system of Massachusetts.

The university offers numerous undergraduate , graduate , and Ph.D. -Courses, especially in the humanities, natural sciences and engineering. In 2010 over 21,000 of the approx. 27,500 students were studying for a Bachelor's degree and a good 6,000 for a Master’s and / or Ph.D. down.

Massachusetts Agricultural College ( engraving , 1879)


The University of Massachusetts Amherst covers an area of ​​just under 5.87 km². The contiguous majority of the properties are near the center of Amherst.

View of the university from the university's own sports facilities South Athletic Fields : on the left the Lederle Graduate Research Tower, due to the distorted perspective, the lower "tower" of Thompson Hall and the library seem to be next to it , on the right the cast concrete building of the Tobin Hall psychology faculty

The library

The red brick tower of the WEB Du Bois Library by architect Edward Durell Stone (Edward Durell Stone & Associates) is particularly visible from afar . When it was completed in 1974, the building was named the tallest library building in the world; At 26 stories or 90 meters (297 feet ) tall, it is still the tallest library building in the United States and, according to library staff, the tallest university library in the world. Named after African-American civil rights activist William EB DuBois , the library houses over 5.8 million monographs, periodicals, and other works.

For static reasons, however, the library tower cannot be used to store books on all floors - the building could not withstand their heavy weight. Several of the higher floors are therefore used for administrative offices and two larger rooms as computer rooms for the students. The background, according to consistent representations by professors and students of the university, is that the building was originally designed as an office building in Boston , but was not awarded the contract there. When Amherst announced the building of the library, the architectural office was able to offer the already completed design at a reasonable price. The university, as a state institution, had been asked to give the cheapest design, whereupon the choice fell on the tower, which had not been specially designed for the university and therefore proved to be structurally inadequate.

The old chapel

Next to the library tower is the Old Chapel, a stone building made of granite from the nearby quarry in Pelham . The foundation stone of the initially towerless building was laid on November 6, 1884. In 1886, as planned, the old chapel was put into use as a combination of library (ground floor) and church (upper floor). At that time it was the largest building on campus. Financing for the construction of a chapel tower had already been approved in 1885, which was implemented in 1892 with the construction of the clock tower. The last church service was held in the old chapel in 1915, since then it has served as a classroom, sports hall for women and from the 1950s to 1997 as the university's own brass band. From 1997 the upper part of the clock tower was renewed, the clock faces restored and the bells re-cast and hung again in the tower. The carillon was expanded and the original clock mechanism was repaired. The future use of the old chapel had not yet been decided after the turn of the millennium.

Godell Hall, traditionally built

More old buildings

Amherst's oldest house, built in the 18th century, stands on the university floor. The Stockbridge House (1876) and South College (1885) buildings are also old, at least by the standards of the university. There are a total of 23 buildings on campus that are on the Inventory of Historic and Archaeological Assets of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts .

Important buildings - in cast concrete

Further central buildings on the university campus were built in the 1960s and 1970s, primarily with facades made of cast concrete: 70 new buildings were erected between 1960 and 1970 alone, and work on eight more was still ongoing in 1970. The Fine Arts Center and the Lincoln Campus Center are of particular architectural importance .

The Lincoln Campus Center

Breuer's Campus Center (right) and Lederle Graduate Research Tower

The Lincoln Campus Center - also Murray D. Lincoln Campus Center , usually abbreviated as Campus Center - and a nearby parking garage, which are connected by an underground corridor, were designed by Marcel Breuer , a student and later colleague and partner of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius , designed. The Campus Center is named after Murray D. Lincoln (1892–1966), who received a bachelor's degree from the university in 1914 and later at the university ( Director of Agriculture in the 1950s), but above all beyond, including in advisory body to the United Nations ( United Nations advisory Board ), an important personality was. The Campus Center was completed in 1970 and houses a high quality hotel; it is also used for the practical training of students in hotel and tourism studies. A restaurant was housed on the top two floors of the building until around 2005, after which the two floors were converted to include a cafeteria, among other things.

The Fine Arts Center

Roche / Dinkeloos Fine Arts Center (left, rear view)

The Fine Arts Center was designed by the well-known architect duo Roche- Dinkeloo and completed between 1968 and 1974. The building houses, among other things, two halls for concerts and theater performances, rehearsal rooms for music students and offices for professors. The original building had a wide breakthrough at ground level between the two theaters, roofed over from the upper floors of the building, onto a large pond, on the western side of which the library and the old chapel stand. Around 1999 the breakthrough was converted into a foyer with the approval of Roche. Approx. In 2002, a ticket sales and information point was installed in front of one of the theaters, otherwise the original building remained almost unchanged, including the orange and conspicuously green carpets of the two theaters. However, problems arise from the structure of the building: The concrete is actually not well suited for the cold winters of New England , as the moisture penetrating into fine cracks after freezing overstrains the material and leads to leaks. After a renovation of the flat roof, there are currently (as of February 2006) still difficulties with the inclined roofs that are not completely airtight. The three- and two-manual organs in the concert hall and the recital hall come from Germany and were built in 1972 by the organ builders Oberlinger. Their disposition came from Prof. John King, the then head of the organ department of the university, in collaboration with Oberlinger.

Student dormitories

The university's student dormitories are grouped into residential areas on campus. During the regular lecture periods from September to December and February to May, around 12,000 students live in the buildings, some of which are more than twenty-storey high and have a population density comparable to that of Hong Kong . The remaining students live partly in other parts of Amherst, the population of which they almost double during the semester, partly in surrounding places.

Course offer

The courses offered at the University of Massachusetts Amherst include:

  • Humanities, social and behavioral sciences
  • Engineering
  • Agriculture (Stockbridge School of Agriculture)
  • music
  • Science and math
  • Landscape architecture and regional planning
  • Public health and health sciences
  • Education (School of Education)
  • maintenance
  • Economics (Isenberg School of Management)

Researchers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy are part of a group of researchers at several universities that received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the spring of 2007 of between 500 and 600 million US dollars - the highest amount ever awarded by the NSF - to investigate the gravitational conditions during the collapse of two black holes . The research funding has already been increased further.

Sports and student activities

Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band before a sports game
UMass Football Team at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium

The university's sports teams are called Minutemen . The college has been a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference Association for College Sports since 1976 .

The American football team of the university's championship plays in the Division I - Championship Subdivision (until 2005: Division I-AA ) of the US university teams, which corresponds roughly to the "second division" of college football . In 1998 the Minutemen won the championship of the (not yet renamed) Division I-AA, in 2006 they were defeated in the final of the Appalachian State University from North Carolina (28:17) and became runner-up.

The University of Massachusetts Minutemen Marching Band , a marching band founded in 1935 with around 300 members (as of 2005) , usually plays at the home games of the American football team . The marching band also performs outside of Amherst and has won the Sudler Trophy for its achievements in 1998 , an award given annually to US university marching bands since 1982, which, according to the statutes, cannot be given twice to the same university.

The university has the dubious reputation of a (depending on the perspective: excessive) "party university" for Bachelor students. Corresponding results were also obtained by evaluations by the magazine “ Princeton Review ”, which conducted Internet surveys of thousands of undergraduate students across the US every year (e.g., 2006: over 110,000) according to alcohol and drug consumption, study time in hours per day and the number of Students in fraternities and sororities (student associations that often have a reputation for organizing many and sometimes excessive parties) were interviewed and the top twenty party schools in the USA were determined. The University of Massachusetts Amherst has been on this list repeatedly in recent years (2004: 13th place; 2005: 9th place; 2006: 7th place). In the first list of 40 "party universities" compiled by Playboy (as well as 16 honorable mentions) the university appeared in 35th place, in the later lists in 2002 (Top 25) and 2006 (Top 10) it was no longer mentioned. The reputation has earned the university the nickname “ZooMass” (made up of zoo and UMass ) , especially among party-goers .

Since alcohol is only allowed to be drunk in the USA at the age of 21, but undergraduate students are usually 18 to 22 years old, the consumption of alcohol by students is closely related to illegality; in order to consume alcohol in pubs despite age controls, some students get drunk in a targeted manner and in a relatively short time before going out ( binge drinking ). Against this background, the President of the University of Massachusetts Amherst signed the Amethyst Initiative in August 2008 as one of numerous university presidents and chancellors , which aims to initiate a discussion of the minimum age for alcohol in the USA.


The University of Massachusetts Amherst has regional as well as international collaborations and exchange agreements. These include:

Five colleges

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of five regional universities, the so-called Five Colleges , which came together in 1965 to form a loose association with, among other things, coordinated courses. Amherst College , Smith College , Hampshire College and Mount Holyoke College also belong to the association .


In 1964, the University of Massachusetts Baden-Württemberg exchange program was set up, initially enabling students from the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg and the University of Massachusetts Amherst to study for a year at the other university. In 1984 the program was extended to all universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg and all locations of the University of Massachusetts. Over 4,000 students from Baden-Württemberg have studied in Massachusetts since the program was founded, most of them on the main Amherst campus. Other universities such as B. the Technical University of Berlin are now organizing exchange programs.

There is now an exchange program with the universities of Hesse .

Actor Richard Gere : 1969 dropping out of philosophy studies after 2 years
Physics Nobel Laureate Russell Hulse : 1975 doctorate on physics
Comedian Bill Cosby : 1976 PhD on education
Astronaut Catherine Coleman : 1991 PhD in polymers and engineering
First female foreign minister of Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar : 2001 Master in Economics


A number of famous personalities studied or taught at the University of Massachusetts Amherst:

Further names of well-known personalities who have taught or studied here can be found in the English Wikipedia .

Individual evidence

All individual certificates are in English:

  1. Amherst is now legally the flagship of UMass system. In: Daily Collegian. University newspaper, September 19, 2003, accessed on February 3, 2016 .
  2. About UMass Amherst. Facts. In: University of Massachusetts Amherst. Archived from the original on April 13, 2013 ; accessed on November 26, 2018 .
  3. About UMass Amherst. Archived from the original on August 16, 2013 ; Retrieved February 3, 2016 .
  4. About UMass Amherst. History. In: University of Massachusetts Amherst. Archived from the original on August 1, 2013 ; Retrieved February 3, 2016 .
  5. Emporis Buildings: WEB Du Bois Library (accessed February 5, 2008)
  6. According to the newspaper of November 8, 1884 planned for “Thursday of this week”, so that the laying of the foundation stone took place after printing: “Plowman” (November 8, 1884): The Agricultural College. Laying of the Corner Stone Of the New Chapel Building. Printed on the University's Office of Information Technologies (OIT) pages (accessed February 1, 2007); there are no known corrections of the date that would indicate a postponement.
  7. ^ Boston Journal (June 1885). Printed on the pages of the University's Computing Center ("Office of Information Technologies" / "OIT") (accessed February 1, 2007)
  8. Kristin Palpini: band Alumni News. UMass group pushes to save old buildings. (No longer available online.) In: Daily Hampshire Gazette. Printed on on May 3, 2007, archived from the original on February 14, 2016 ; accessed on February 3, 2016 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. ^ Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections (WEB Du Bois Library, Amherst, Massachusetts): Special Collections & Archives, WEB Du Bois Library> John W. Lederle Papers, 1947-1983 (bulk 1960-1970). (Section: Biographical Note ) (accessed February 5, 2007)
  10. ^ Murray D. Lincoln Campus Center. Auxiliary Services: Who was Murry D. Lincoln? In: Archived from the original on June 13, 2010 ; Retrieved February 3, 2016 . and Lincoln Campus Center at ( memento of the original from January 30, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (accessed February 5, 2007) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. ^ UMass Amherst: Housing and Residential Life. Welcome ( Memento of the original from September 1, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (accessed February 1, 2007) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. z. B. epinions: University of Massachusetts Amherst ( Memento of the original from July 16, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (accessed February 2, 2007) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13. no author details (before May 2006; updated May 11, 2008). Playboy's Party Schools on Snopes (accessed October 31, 2008)
  14. Urban Dictionary (slang lexicon built from private submissions): ZooMass (accessed February 2, 2007)
  15. Signatories on (accessed October 31, 2008)
  16. Notable Alumni. In: UMass Amherst Alumni Association. Retrieved February 3, 2016 . NBA, Legends in Business Q&A NBA Career Opportunities (accessed March 30, 2012)
  17. Richard Gere Biography. In: Archived from the original on December 31, 2013 ; Retrieved February 3, 2016 .
  18. True to their school UMass Magazine Winter 99 Branches History Department (accessed March 30, 2012)
  19. Curriculum Vitae. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, archived from original on January 15, 2013 ; accessed on February 3, 2016 .
  20. John Koch: Profane Eloquence. Through the words of William Monahan, Boston swagger meets Hong Kong crime drama. ( Memento of the original from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Written By (accessed March 30, 2012) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  21. ^ Marietta Pritchard (Winter 2003). Profile: Finding unity in diversity. ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. UMassMag online (March 30, 2012) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /

Web links

Commons : University of Massachusetts Amherst  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 42 ° 23 ′ 11 "  N , 72 ° 31 ′ 32"  W.