UMass computer science college receives $93M from state grant, Mannings’ gift

  • Laura Haas, left, dean of the newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst greets the Mannings after the official announcement of their $18 million gift to the college and a separate announcement from the commonwealth of a $75 million commitment to enhance and expand the college on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Donna and Robert Manning are applauded by University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan, left, after the announcement of their $18 million gift to the newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan, left, University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan and Laura Haas, dean of the newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, gather for a photo following the announcement on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, of an $18 million gift from the Mannings and a $75 million commitment from the commonwealth to enhance and expand the college. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan addresses UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, right, during the announcement of an $18 million private gift from Robert and Donna Manning and a $75 million commitment from the commonwealth to enhance and expand the newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Robert Manning, chairman of MFS Investment Management and University of Massachusetts trustees chairman, speaks about reasons for the $18 million gift that he and his wife, Donna Manning, gave to the UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences at the college Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan is applauded after announcing a $75 million commitment from the commonwealth to enhance and expand the newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Donna and Robert Manning pose for a photo with a placard recognizing the newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst during a ceremony at the college on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan, right, shakes hands with Donna and Robert Manning after the renaming of the UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences in their names during a conference to announce their gift to the college on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 10/27/2021 7:23:21 PM

AMHERST — The newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences at UMass Amherst will receive $93 million to improve the program’s facilities and accessibility to students.

“Today is truly a momentous day for our campus,” Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said at a ceremony Wednesday in the college’s computer science building to announce the funding.

A sum of $18 million of the total comes as part of Robert and Donna Manning’s $50 million gift to UMass announced in September, the largest of its kind in the school system’s history. This allocation of money comes concurrently with a $75 million state grant announced by Gov. Charlie Baker, which will be distributed over the course of multiple projects in the future.

The money will be used to enhance facilities for hands-on learning, hire new faculty, offer peer mentoring, and conduct computing research that ranges from artificial intelligence to cybersecurity, and from health care to quantum information systems.

Laura Haas, dean of the computer science college, said the money will “enable us to offer scholarships” to make the program more accessible to students across the board.

Although Baker could not attend Wednesday’s ceremony, Haas, Subbaswamy, Robert Manning, UMass President Marty Meehan, and Michael Heffernan, the state secretary for administration and finance, all spoke of the gift and what it means to UMass Amherst.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Mannings and the commonwealth of Massachusetts for their support of our college,” Haas said.

According to UMass, the college “has seen rapid growth of 320% in enrollment since 2010” and faces limited resources to continue this growth. The new donations will help expand the program and maintain the college’s status as a “net importer of talent to Massachusetts,” Haas said.

During her time as dean, she has made diversity a focal point for the college, aiming to retain diverse members and expand the enrollment of women to 40% by the end of the decade, up from its current 27%.

Subbaswamy shared this focus, emphasizing the importance of attracting women and minorities to computing research. This dedication, along with the $93 million, will help fuel the college’s vision of “Computing for the Common Good,” which Subbaswamy described as a commitment to improving the lives of those around the world.

He touted the college’s success as of late, sharing that it “almost doubled its amount of faculty” in recent years and ranks within the top 20 computer science programs in North America, while its artificial intelligence specialty ranks 11th.

Subbaswamy led the effort to get CICS upgraded to a college instead of just a department, and he said he’s pleased that the Manning family’s gift shows they also “understand the power of computing.”

Robert Manning, the longtime UMass trustees chairman, said computer science is “an area we think is really important in society.”

“I have been very focused on the ethical applications of new technologies, which both enhance and complicate our lives,” he said.

Manning explained that in the future, “computing will cure diseases and solve some of the world’s greatest problems, but will also be incredibly disruptive, particularly to the workforce.” By this, he referred to the destruction of jobs across the economy due to automation technology.

He said UMass Amherst is well-positioned to educate students with a “strong ethical and moral compass” who will work toward the common good.

UMass President Marty Meehan said Robert and Donna Manning are “extraordinary human beings” and expressed admiration for their ability to “articulate how this university can make society better.”

“The need for a strong talent pool in this space has never been more urgent,” Meehan said. Thanks to the new money, he said, computer science at UMass is “poised to become the primary resource for the diverse computer science talent in the commonwealth.”

Meehan also recognized Baker’s commitment to serving western Massachusetts with the state’s $75 million grant. He said that “sometimes state government becomes Boston-centered,” but Baker stands out.

Although Baker couldn’t attend the ceremony, he shared his excitement in a statement, writing that the “research and educational programming at the College will help sustain the Commonwealth’s edge in these important sectors.”

Alongside the Manning family’s gift, he said, the state’s investment will help “train and educate the next generation of computer and information science professionals.”

At the ceremony, Heffernan said that computer science is becoming a larger part of the U.S. economy and that this grant will be a “game changer” in UMass Amherst’s ability to contribute to this growth.

The grant “will give us room to grow and shine,” Haas said.




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy