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An Encyclopedia of 150 Years at UMass

A-Z guide: Genes, Hoops, Grammys, and more

Founded in 1863, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is celebrating its 150th anniversary. The Boston Globe has published a special magazine recognizing 150 valuable contributions UMass has made in the worlds of education, innovation, athletics, health care, the arts, and more.


Agriculture: How it all started

Agriculture: How it all started

Agriculture has been essential since the very beginning. In fact, agricultural studies were the very beginning.


Cloning, and its controversy

Cloning, and its controversy

Years of testing, trials, and regulatory challenges await, but the science exists due to two former UMass researchers.



UMass Amherst has the most graduate and undergraduate students out of all the five University of Massachusetts locations. In the fall of 2012, 28,236 students attended the Amherst location, almost the size of a small city. Check out the enrollment break down in this graphic.


GPA: Would UMass accept you today? Don’t be so sure.

UMass may not be the school you attended a few decades ago or even a few years ago. It’s become so surprisingly selective that the alumni magazine ran a story recently titled “Could You Still Get In?” The answer may be no, says Kevin Kelly, the director of admissions.


Isenberg, Eugene: The oilman

The Chelsea native-turned-Texas-oilman gave his alma mater $6 million in 1996 — the largest donation in the school’s history at the time — and UMass repaid the favor by affixing his name to its school of management.


Kitchen: Your kitchen in mind

Today, the big kitchen buzzwords are “fresh” and “local,” but a hundred years ago, the action was in preservation: finding ways to make fruits and vegetables last longer. The department of horticulture established in the early 20th century claims a role in the development of federal food standards.


Marching band

Marching band

The ensemble has performed in three presidential inaugural cermonies and will next be marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Opportunity knocks

Price is one of the reasons applications to UMass Amherst are up nearly 70 percent since 2005. Tuition, room, and board at BU costs $56,184; at Northeastern, $53,226. The same prices added up to a comparatively cheap $23,167 at UMass Amherst.


QVT: The mystery of the first fraternity

QTV may or may not have been the first fraternity at UMass, but it definitely wasn’t Greek. Founded in 1869, the local frat was Latin. It won a prize in the 1963 Homecoming Parade. And then. . . who knows?


September 11

September 11

Three who shined after 9/11, including special master for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Ken Feinberg.


University: 1 school, 5 campuses

UMass’s expansion is why today its 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. And each campus has carved out its own niche.


Weather: Forecasting the future

When it comes to climate change, University of Massachusetts researchers are always looking forward, but they’re also looking back. Way back. “We have some people looking at warming that happened 30 million years ago,” says Michael Rawlins, an associate profess of geosciences.


Young, James: A scholar to memorials

Professor of English and Judaic studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and director of the university’s Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Young is a scholar of memorials to tragedies whose work is as influential as it is low-profile.


Basketball: Where Dr. J took off

Basketball: Where Dr. J took off

The school has spawned Hall of Famers, national No. 1 rankings, and a memorable run to the Final Four.


Divots: Geoffrey Cornish helped design New England courses

It’s hard to imagine a UMass graduate who has caused more people to curse, throw things, or break a pencil in frustration than Geoffrey Cornish. And even after his death at age 97 in 2012, he will continue to torment people — not everyone mind you. Just golfers.


Football, playing with the big boys

Football, playing with the big boys

UMass made the decision to play football at the highest college level after more than a century of lower-tiered success.


Health: The primary-care doctor engine

The possibility of a state medical school in Massachusetts was seriously discussed as early as the 1940s, yet UMass Medical School didn’t officially open until 1970. The holdup?


Jobs: A ‘Monster’ achievement

Jobs: A ‘Monster’ achievement

Jeff Taylor, the founder of job-hunting site, took 23 years to graduate.


Nobel: One prize. Would more really mean better?

Nobel: One prize. Would more really mean better?

"One needs to be careful with using ... that as the sole judge of the quality of an institution."


Public education: When the private school shadows loom large

As long as Massachusetts is home to the likes of Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Boston University, Emerson, Northeastern, Brandeis, Amherst College, Williams, and so many others, UMass Amherst may always stay in the shadow of private schools.


Red Sox

Red Sox

Baseball smacks of success, like Sox General Manager Ben Cherington.


Trethewey, Natasha: The nation’s poet

Trethewey, Natasha: The nation’s poet

The 1995 UMass master of fine arts program graduate became the US poet laureate in 2012.


Visionaries galore

Visionaries galore

The UMass Hollywood ties are impressive, including "Burn Notice" star Jeffrey Donovan.


Xenophilia: Global ed

UMass Amherst has a stronger reputation abroad in many fields than it might at home. Some 1,800 international students from 100 countries go there to study, almost all of them at the graduate level, where they make up about half of the annual applicants and 30 percent of the enrollment.


ZooMass: Party school?

ZooMass: Party school?

Sorry, not really. It's increasingly known more for its academics than for its, ahem, extracurriculars.

Looking back

UMass-Amherst Old Chapel cake

UMass-Amherst celebrates with 150-pound cake

The cake was created in the shape of the university’s iconic Old Chapel.
Share: Your UMass memories

Share: Your UMass memories

Did you attend the University of Massachusetts? Share your memories, photos, and more.
'UMass Rising'

'UMass Rising'

The book gathers images from the school’s first 150 years. Get a sneak preview.


Bill Cosby, in his own words

Bill Cosby, in his own words

The funnyman reflects on his alma mater: "I am who I am because of UMass."
Jack Welch: How UMass launched my career

Jack Welch: How UMass launched my career

The business titan discusses how he got a boost.