Here comes UMass Haverhill

Officials at the University of Massachusetts Lowell hope to open a permanent branch of their campus in downtown Haverhill with a $2.5 million appropriation contained in a supplemental budget lawmakers approved in March.

University officials plan to use the funds to move from current leased space at Northern Essex Community College to a spot in the Gateway City’s downtown, closer to highways and public transportation. About 2,000 students from the Haverhill area attend UMass Lowell.

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Gabrielle Gurley

Senior Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

The politics play pretty well, too. Rep. Brian Dempsey, the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which shepherds budget bills through the Legislature, is a UMass Lowell grad and lives in Haverhill.

Overall enrollment at UMass Lowell has increased 45 percent in the past seven years to 17,000 students, and Northern Essex has some of the largest numbers of students transferring into the university annually.

University officials have spearheaded an ambitious expansion plan to meet growing student interest. Since 2009, eight new buildings have gone up on the Lowell campus, including six brand-new ones during 2012 to 2013. UMass Lowell has become a popular option for the state’s high-achieving high school graduates. The university saw record enrollment in its Honors Program this year and set up an Honors College to provide special offerings for those students. The average SAT scores for incoming freshmen have gone up 63 points and average high school GPAs are also on the upswing.