The University was founded in 1863 under the provisions of the Federal Morrill Land Grant University Act
instruction to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the "agricultural, mechanical, and military arts".
Accordingly, the University was initially named the Massachusetts Agricultural College
). It was known as
this until 1931, due to an increase in enrollment and support from the Commonwealth, it was renamed the Massachusetts State
.In 1947, the State College filed to become a University, and became the University Of Massachusetts. Like most schools at the
time, it was relatively small, enrolling ~5,000 students annually. Some expansion occurred in the 1950's, but the bulk of its
transition to the present size occurred in the 1960's. The new president set a goal of expansion to 20,000 by the end of the
decade, and the University entered a program of intense building. Many prominent structures rose during this time, including the
Southwest Complex, Student Union, Campus Center hotel, Fine Arts Center and famous 24-story library tower. Umass growth
drastically altered the regional economy, prompting the commercial development of Route 9 in Hadley, the extension and redirection of several highways (including Routes 9 and 116 in Amherst and 5 in Northampton, aside from the Federal
Government's building a 91 addition through to Canada) and the transformation of the town of Amherst from its old Republican
order to its progressive activist reputation today. As an old saying goes, "the gown overwhelmed the town."