The Town of Amherst and the University of Massachusetts Amherst have announced the creation of the University/Town of Amherst Collaborative (UTAC) made up of Amherst residents, UMass Amherst students and town and university officials. The new group was announced by John Musante, Amherst town manager, and Kumble R. Subbaswamy, UMass Amherst chancellor.
UTAC will act as an advisory council to the town manager and chancellor by providing leadership and ideas and building support for future endeavors. These include identifying sites for undergraduate mixed-use development, jointly pursuing public-private partnerships and helping to create an anchor strategy for the university that embraces the town and fosters enduring economic success, Subbaswamy and Musante say.
They note that the UTAC is a direct result of the Town Gown Steering Committee, which was created in 2013 when both Amherst and the university made commitments of $30,000 each to hire a consultant to aid in development of a shared economic development and housing vision.
Subbaswamy says, “This is another important step toward cooperation and coordination between the university and its host community of Amherst. It also builds on the recognition that we aren’t separate entities inhabiting the same space, but rather complimentary and interlocking parts of the same community.”
Musante says, “With the support of the Select Board and the committed and forward-thinking leadership at the university and in the state Legislature, we are seizing this historic opportunity to pursue economic development and strengthen our neighborhoods in a most collaborative and mutually beneficial way.”
UTAC will include a Steering Committee and three subcommittees. The steering committee members from the university include Nancy Buffone (co-chair), associate vice chancellor for University Relations; Katherine Newman, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs; Shane Conklin, associate vice chancellor for facilities and campus services; Enku Gelaye, vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life, and an undergraduate and graduate student to be named. Representatives from the community include David Ziomek (co-chair), assistant town manager; Alisa Brewer, chair, Amherst Select Board; John Kuhn, senior principal, Kuhn Riddle Architects and board member of the Amherst Business Improvement District (BID); Carol Ross, coordinator, Amherst Together; Maurianne Adams, residential neighborhood representative and emerita professor from UMass Amherst, and Eric Nakajima, director, Mass Broadband Institute.
The Economic Development Subcommittee will look at opportunities where the Town and the University might be able to leverage opportunities related to university research, entrepreneurship opportunities, retention of graduates and the innovation economy. Members from the university are James Capistran (co-chair), executive director, UMass Innovation Institute; Natalie Blais, senior assistant to the chancellor; Bill Woolridge, director, Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, and David McLaughlin, professor, electrical and computer engineering. Community members are Eric Nakajima (co-chair), director, Mass Broadband Institute; Sarah la Cour, executive director, Amherst Business Improvement District; Don Courtemanche, executive director, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce; David Webber, chair, Amherst Planning Board; Tripp Peake, general partner, Long River Ventures, and Clare Bertrand, Amherst Office Park and Town Meeting member.
The Housing Subcommittee will look at issues facing housing in Amherst and ways that the town and campus can work together to address student housing needs and strategies to increase the number of faculty and staff living in Amherst. University members include Dawn Bond (co-chair), director of student services, Residential Life; Sally Linowski, associate dean, off-campus student life; Doug Marshall, project planner/manager, Facilities and Campus Planning; Nate Whitmal, associate professor, communications disorders, and Jeri Baker, director, Transportation Services. Community members are John Kuhn (co-chair), senior principal, Kuhn Riddle Architects; Andy Churchill, executive director, Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative; Greg Stutsman, co-chair, Amherst Housing and Sheltering Committee and member of the Amherst Planning Board, and Ken Rosenthal, neighborhood residential representative and a Hampshire College retiree, and Paul Vasconcellos, president of the Ann Whalen Tenants Association and a retired assistant dean of students from UMass Amherst.
The Culture, Arts and Living Subcommittee will look at ways in which the university and town might better collaborate on cultural economic development opportunities. University members include Shawn Farley (co-chair), director of marketing, UMass Fine Arts Center; Marilyn Blaustein, assistant provost for institutional research, and Sandy Litchfield, assistant professor, architecture. Community members include Carol Ross (co-chair), coordinator, Amherst Together; Kate Lockhart, development director, Big Brothers Big Sisters; Jane Wald, executive director, Emily Dickinson Museum; Carol Johnson, executive director, Amherst Cinema Center, and Rene Theberge, chair, Amherst Public Art Commission.
Additional members, including undergraduate and graduate students, will be added at a later date. Tony Maroulis, the university’s director of community relations, and the Town of Amherst’s economic development director to be hired, will provide staffing for the steering committee and three subcommittees, ensuring continuity and that initiatives are carried out.
Contact: Ed Blaguszewski, 413-545-0444, firstname.lastname@example.org