LOWELL, Mass. – Despite the pandemic’s effect on higher education nationwide, UMass Lowell enrolled its largest student body ever this fall, nearly 18,400 students.
This semester, 11,389 undergraduates, 4,572 graduate students and 2,433 continuing education students are enrolled at UMass Lowell, for a total of 18,394, up from 18,338 last fall. Among them are nearly 3,000 new first-year and transfer students. Together, the student body represents all 50 states and more than 120 countries.
“2020 has been an incredibly challenging time for our students and their families as well as our faculty and staff,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney. “It is a testament to the perseverance of our students and their faith in the high-quality education at UMass Lowell that they are continuing to pursue their degrees during this global pandemic.”
Because of the pandemic, the majority of students are attending courses virtually. A small percentage of students who are participating in labs and other specific in-person learning needed to advance toward their degrees are attending some courses on campus. Approximately 700 students are living in university housing.
To ensure the safety of students, as well as faculty and staff, the university has conducted COVID-19 surveillance (asymptomatic) testing since the beginning of the semester. More than 5,400 weekly tests have been conducted, with two positive cases detected for a positivity rate of 0.037 percent – significantly less than the state rate of 1.1 percent as of Oct. 4.
Because of the uncertainty of the pandemic leading up to the start of the academic year, UMass Lowell and its faculty prepared for all of the possibilities the fall semester could bring, from in-person, to hybrid to virtual classes.
UMass Lowell faculty spent the summer in university-organized workshops learning how to best translate in-person instruction to online learning to strengthen students’ remote learning experiences.
“If we have learned anything during this pandemic, it’s how to be flexible and resilient — and to be ready for anything that we need to do,” said Associate Prof. Daniel Arroyo-Rodriguez, who joined UMass Lowell’s Department of World Languages and Cultures this fall and participated in workshops along with hundreds of other faculty leading up to the semester.
In all, 390 faculty members participated in the 35 virtual workshops. Sessions were led by UMass Lowell faculty and Information Technology staff members and focused on creative and effective online teaching techniques as well as a focus on maximizing the use of technological tools.
Unlike in March, when the university had just 10 days to move 2,700 courses online, administrators had several months to plan for the possibility of remote courses this fall.
The university surveyed more than 2,800 students in the spring about their experience with the move to remote learning to help inform topics to cover during the faculty sessions. UMass Lowell continues to review and update its fall plans as it considers options for the spring semester.
UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe. www.uml.edu