Date: June 11, 2014
Department: News & Public Information
"This is a win-win for UMass Dartmouth and the Fall River community as these students will have the opportunity to experience a great American city while taking classes, and the downtown economy will be strengthened by the influx of new consumers,'' Chancellor Grossman said. "We look forward to collaborating with the city and business owners to create an excellent learning experience for our students and new economic activity for the neighborhood."
The program, managed by Navitas, university's international education partner, will be located in the second floor of the Cherry and Webb building at 139 South Main Street. The students will live on campus and be transported five days per week to the facility where they will spend most of their day in classes but also have time to participate in the life of the downtown. The program in Fall River is projected to grow to 250 over the next few years.
"Navitas is delighted that UMass Dartmouth is making this wonderful facility available for the Navitas program," said Mary Fleming, executive director of Navitas at UMass Dartmouth. "The move will allow students to be part of both the UMass Dartmouth community, living on the campus, and also participate in the life of an American community. This is a unique opportunity for international students."
A key component of the initiative will be connecting downtown eateries to the UMass Dartmouth Pass, allowing students to purchase food using the official university ID card. The University will be reaching out to businesses in the area to assist them in participating in the program. Navitas currently has a total of 150 students enrolled in its UMass Dartmouth program and wants to build the program to 500 students.
The Fall River legislative delegation praised the initiative as a catalyst for economic development.
"This program is an innovative way to provide our international students with an immersive and authentic American experience, coupled with the world-class education offered at UMass Dartmouth," said State Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), whose district includes Fall River.
State Representative Alan Silvia, D-Fall River, whose district includes the building, said, "I want to commend Chancellor Grossman and UMass Dartmouth for this innovative investment in the future of Fall River's downtown. I look forward to working with the university, Navitas, and local business owners on making this exciting venture a big success for all involved."
Rep. Carol Fiola, D-Fall River, said, "I would like to congratulate Chancellor Grossman and her UMass team on developing this unique international student education program and choosing Fall River and the Cherry & Webb building as its location. The economic impact of bringing one hundred international students to the downtown on a daily basis will be felt by all the merchants in the area and also help introduce Fall River to an international student body that could prove to be very beneficial to the city as these students choose where to live and work in the future."
State Rep. Paul Schmid, D-Westport, whose district includes part of Fall River, added:
"These foreign students will enjoy the opportunity to learn about Fall River's rich cultural history and contribute to it themselves."
A recent study by the UMass Donahue Institute indicated that UMass Dartmouth generates $518 million of economic activity in the region, including millions of dollars of purchases of goods and services by the UnIversity's 9,000 students. New Bedford officials credit student activity around the downtown College of Visual and Performing Arts with transforming the small businesses there.
Ken Fiola, Jr., Executive Vice President of the Fall River Office of Economic Development, said, "From a an economic development viewpoint, the influx of a hundred students a day will have a great financial impact on the restaurants and cafes in the downtown area. UMass deserves a lot of credit for thinking creatively to address the needs of its international student base as well as the economic interests of the downtown."