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December 28, 2012

UMass Lowell eyes expansion into Haverhill

HAVERHILL — The University of Massachusetts at Lowell plans to open a satellite campus in downtown Haverhill next fall in the school’s first such planned expansion and the latest change on the North Shore higher education landscape.

University officials are looking for 10,000 square feet of office space they can use for six to eight “smart classrooms’’ and administrative offices for the satellite spot, which will focus on continuing education, University Chancellor Martin Meehan told The Times’ sister paper, The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover.

Talk of opening a UMass Lowell campus in Haverhill has swirled for months after Meehan appeared at a Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce event earlier this year and said the move was being considered. At that time, he said, UMass Lowell was discussing a partnership with Northern Essex Community College, which has its main campus in Haverhill.

Meehan said the satellite campus will become a reality with help from state Rep. Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, who is a UMass Lowell alumnus and chairman of the House Ways and Means committee. Money for the campus is included in the state’s fiscal year 2013 budget, officials said.

Northern Essex Community College is “the highest feeder school to UMass Lowell,” Meehan said. Of the 16,000 students who attend UMass Lowell, more than 2,000 come from the Haverhill area, he said.

“The long and short of it is we are delighted we will have a presence in the city of Haverhill,” Meehan said. “A presence in Haverhill will help us become ever more accessible.”

A UMass Lowell expansion into Haverhill would come as Salem State University continues to expand since its was granted a change from college to university status in July 2010, and it comes less than a year after the private Endicott College expanded into a satellite campus in Gloucester. Endicott opened its new campus in Gloucester last spring at 33 Commercial Street, on the city’s outer harbor and in its historic Fort neighborhood.

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