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University of Massachusetts Lowell

The University of Massachusetts Lowell (also known as UMass Lowell) is a public research university in Lowell, Massachusetts. The university is part of the University of Massachusetts system and has been regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) since 1975.[3] With over 1,150 faculty members and over 18,000 students, it is the largest university in the Merrimack Valley and the second-largest public institution in the state.[4]

University of Massachusetts Lowell
Former names
Lowell Normal School
Lowell State College
University of Lowell
Established1894 (1894)
FounderJoseph Conti
EndowmentUS$ 91.7 million (2018)[1]
ChancellorJacqueline Moloney
ProvostJoseph Hartman
Students18,257 (2018)[1]
Location, ,

42°38′34″N 71°20′04″W / 42.642716°N 71.334530°W / 42.642716; -71.334530Coordinates: 42°38′34″N 71°20′04″W / 42.642716°N 71.334530°W / 42.642716; -71.334530
150 acres
ColorsBlue and Black[2]
AthleticsNCAA Division I
America East
Hockey East
NicknameRiver Hawks
AffiliationsUMass System
MascotRowdy the River Hawk

The university offers 122 bachelor's, 43 master's and 36 doctoral degree programs, including nationally recognized programs in engineering, criminal justice, education, music, science and technology.[1] The university is one of the few public universities in the United States to offer accredited undergraduate degrees in meteorology, sound recording technology, nuclear engineering and plastics engineering. It was the first to offer a degree in music education. Academically, UMass Lowell is organized into six schools and colleges: the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Education; the Kennedy College of Sciences; the Francis College of Engineering; the Manning School of Business; and the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences.[5]


Coburn Hall in 1899

The University of Massachusetts Lowell owes its origins to two institutions founded in the 1890s: Lowell State College on the south side of the Merrimack River and Lowell Technological Institute on the north side. Each would follow its own path of expansion through the 20th century.[6]

Lowell State CollegeEdit

Lowell State College got its start as the Lowell Normal School, which was chartered in 1894 as a teacher-training institution for women. The 10th and final normal school to be established in Massachusetts, it opened in 1898 with 108 students and five faculty members. The original classroom building opened the next year at the corner of Broadway and Wilder streets, and quickly became a landmark in the city.[7] Designed by local firm Stickney & Austin, it reflects the fashion of the time: high-style Beaux Arts with classical symmetry, arches, cast-iron lampposts and yellow brick. Its design was influenced in part by Lowell High School, which was also designed by Lowell native Frederick W. Stickney. Frank Coburn, for whom the hall was later named, served as the school's first principal until 1908.[8]

After being threatened with closure during the Great Depression, school administrators rallied local support to help keep it open. A delegation of prominent individuals representing Lowell's powerful interest groups traveled to Boston and convinced state officials of the school's importance. The result was that the school not only survived, but continued to grow and expand. In 1950, Dr. Daniel O'Leary assumed the presidency and initiated an ambitious building program. The physical plant of the campus expanded during post-war era from a single structure to a multi-building complex, forming an area now known as UMass Lowell's South Campus.[9]

As the demand for more qualified teachers grew, the legislature reorganized the Normal School into Lowell State College in 1960 with a curriculum that expanded beyond education to include baccalaureate degrees in other fields including nursing and music. Beginning in 1967, the college was authorized to confer two more degrees: Master of Education and Master of Music Education.[10]

Lowell Technological InstituteEdit

Southwick Hall in 1903
World War I era photo of Southwick and Kitson Hall

Established in 1895 as the Lowell Textile School, the institution was founded to train technicians and managers for work in Lowell’s booming textile industry. Modeled after the now-defunct Polytechnic College of Pennsylvania, Lowell Textile was the combined effort of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and corporations eager to form a school dedicated to textile education. Under the guidance of founder James T. Smith, Lowell Textile opened its doors in February 1897 in the upper floors of a downtown commercial block located on Middle Street. The school offered three-year training programs in cotton and wool manufacturing, design, textile chemistry and dyeing.[11]

In 1903, the school moved from downtown to its permanent location just northwest of the Merrimack River. The yellow brick mill-like Southwick Hall was dedicated to Royal and Dierexa Southwick. Grandparents of the wealthy businessman Frederick Ayer, the Southwicks were Quakers and abolitionists who came to Lowell in the 1820s to help establish the Lowell Carpet Company. Ten years later, the school granted its first bachelor's degrees in textile dyeing and textile engineering.[12]

In 1953, President Martin Lydon expanded the curriculum to include programs in plastics, leather, paper and electronics technology, increased the liberal arts offerings and renamed the school the Lowell Technological Institute.[13] He moved the institute decisively toward general engineering, setting up a bachelor’s program in 1956. The textile program was closed in 1971, reflecting the closure of most of the mills in the city.[14]


In 1972, a feasibility study was conducted on merging Lowell State College with Lowell Technological Institute.[15] Lowell State and Lowell Tech merged in 1975 as the University of Lowell. In 1991, the Lowell campus joined the University of Massachusetts system under its current name.[16] Under Chapter 142, the UMass system was restructured to combine the Amherst, Boston, and Worcester campuses with the University of Lowell and Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMass Dartmouth).[17]

Recent developmentsEdit

In 2018 the union of adjunct faculty members launched a campaign titled "Justice for Lowell", demanding health insurance. According to their information UMass Lowell is the only university in the UMass system, that doesn't offer health insurance and retirement benefits for all adjunct professors. Further cited reasons for protests are unequal pay and contract issues.[18][19]


UMass Lowell is the second-largest campus in the University of Massachusetts system and it has three campus clusters: North, South and East. The universities main facilities are located in Lowell, Massachusetts, 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Boston on both sides of the Merrimack River. The university has increased student housing by more than 2,500 [20] beds in the last five years, including opening three new residence halls in 2013, 2015, and 2017.

Recent campus developmentsEdit

UMass Lowell and the city reached an agreement in 2009 for the school to acquire the Tsongas Arena and the 3 acres (12,000 m2) of land adjacent to it. The transfer was finalized in February 2010 and the venue was renamed the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.[21]

The university bought the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Lowell in 2009. Now called the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, the building includes student housing, year-round lodging for the public and is home to events for the university and community, a restaurant called 50 Warren that is open to the public year-round, business and cultural programs, conferences and more.[22]

The university broke ground in June 2010 on the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, the first new academic building built from the ground up on campus in 30 years. The building—originally called just the "Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center" or "ETIC," is located on the former site of Smith Hall (demolished in July 2010) -- cost $80 million to construct with funding from a variety of sources including the state, federal government, alumni and other private donors. On March 30, 2011, the university held a topping-off ceremony marking the completion of the ETIC's steel frame. The ceremony also included the opening of a time capsule that was placed in the cornerstone of Smith Hall during its 1947 construction, as well as the compilation of a new time capsule to be included in the Saab Center. The building's grand opening was on Oct. 11, 2012.[23] The center was renamed as the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center in December 2012 in honor of the Lowell couple's generous support for the building and the university overall.[24]

In January 2011, the university announced that it had acquired the former St. Joseph's Hospital in Lowell for $6.3 million. The complex, renamed University Crossing, consisted of approximately 300,000 square feet (28,000 m2) of developable space. In the summer of 2014, the university completed the construction of a new student center at the site that includes a cafe and bookstore open to the public and a single location for all student services and activities. The University Police and most administrative functions are located in an existing, renovated building at University Crossing. The complex is located near the university's North, South and East campuses and serves as a central point uniting all three.[25]

The university broke ground in April 2011 on the new Health and Social Sciences Building on South Campus. Construction of the building was completed in spring 2013 and it officially opened with a ceremony on April 18, 2013. The 69,000-square-foot (6,400 m2) building, construction of which was funded by the state's Higher Education Bond Bill of 2008, is home to the School of Criminology and Justice Studies, School of Nursing and Department of Psychology, which include some of the university's most popular majors.[26]

In November 2011, the university broke ground on a $16 million parking garage on North Campus. The garage is a six-story, 650-space parking facility that opened in fall 2012.[27] A second new garage was built on South Campus and opened for the fall 2013 semester.

In January 2012, construction of a new residence hall on East Campus, later named University Suites, began with the demolition of the former Institute for Plastics Innovation Building. The suite-style residence hall opened in August 2013 and houses 472 students. As of the fall semester, it is occupied entirely by students in UMass Lowell's Honors College. The building features the Hawk's Nest, a cafe that is open to the public; a multipurpose room; learning commons and other amenities. An apartment-style residence hall, Riverview Suites, also opened for the fall 2013 semester and was constructed by a developer on private property adjacent to the university's South Campus. The second phase of Riverview Suites, which features traditional suite-style housing, opened for the fall 2015 semester and includes a wing with academic and research space for students in health-related majors.

In May 2012, it was announced that a new building to house the Manning School of Business would be erected in the name of alumnus John Pulichino '67 and his wife, Joy Tong, who donated $4 million for student scholarships. A ceremony to break ground on the building was held in May 2014. The building, the Pulichino Tong Business Center, was completed in 2017.[28]

In December 2015, the university announced that it had purchased the A.H. Notini property on its East Campus. The university converted the property into recreation fields for use by intramurals and other Campus Recreation Center programs.[29] In July 2016, UMass Lowell announced that it had purchased the Perkins Park apartment complex, also on its East Campus, for use as university housing for honors students, graduate students, faculty and staff. Renamed River Hawk Village, the complex opened to students for fall 2017 and houses more than 700 students.[30]

In April 2019, the university announced that Alice Cui of Lexington, MA had purchased its 34 acre west campus property in Chelmsford for 3.425 million. Cui planned to develop it into a residential development.[31]

Organization and administrationEdit

The university is governed by a six-member executive cabinet, including and led by the chancellor. The current chancellor is Jacqueline Moloney, who was appointed in August 2015.[32] Marty Meehan, former UMass Lowell Chancellor, is currently the President of the entire University of Massachusetts system. He assumed office July 2015, and previously served as Chancellor since September 2007.[33][34]


The University of Massachusetts Lowell has an acceptance rate of 61 percent,[35] a freshman retention rate of 86 percent, and a graduation rate of 54 percent.[36] In 2016, 87% of first-year students rated their overall educational experience as "good" or "excellent".[36] The average combined SAT score (Critical Reading and Math) for incoming freshmen for fall 2016 was 1179, up more than 100 points since fall 2008, and the average entering GPA was a 3.59, up from 3.18 in fall 2010.[37] 52% of undergraduate classes had 20 students or fewer in the fall 2017-2018 semester. In 2017 UMass awarded a total of 2,619 Bachelor's, 1,018 Master's and 110 Doctoral degrees.[36]

Tuition and feesEdit

The 2017-2018 annual tuition and fees for undergraduates were $14,800 (In State), $25,479 (New England Regional & Proximity) and $31,865 (Out of State). Graduate tuitions $15,040, $22,851 and $26,820 respectively.[38]

Online programsEdit

The university offers various courses online; in 2017, it had a total online-enrollment of 28,790 which was an increase of 7.3% compared to 2016. Total revenue from online classes in 2017 was $35.2 million.[36]


Francis College of EngineeringEdit

Southwick Hall - University of Massachusetts Lowell

The Francis College of Engineering is named after James B. Francis, a hydraulic engineer who began his career in Lowell during the Industrial Revolution.[39] The college is home to nearly 150 full-time faculty members and 14 research centers, and is fully accredited by ABET.[40] The college is ranked No. 129 by U.S. News and World Report.[41]

UMass Lowell has a radiation laboratory with a Van de Graaff generator that provides students with real-world experience in particle physics, nuclear engineering and health physics.

The UMass Lowell Baseball Research Center is associated with the College of Engineering. The facility, first funded in 1998, is the official testing center for Major League Baseball, testing bats and baseballs. Those conducting research through the center include mechanical engineering faculty and a full-time staff engineer, and six to 12 student laboratory assistants.[42]

Zuckerberg College of Health SciencesEdit

The Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences includes the Solomont School of Nursing, elevated from a department as of June 1, 2013.

The college has more than 2,100 undergraduate students, 409 graduate students, 82 faculty members and six research centers.[43] The college offers seven degree and certificate programs, including the only doctorate of physical therapy (DPT) degree program offered by a public institution in Massachusetts. It also offers the only graduate degrees in pharmaceutical sciences at a public institution in the Commonwealth. The graduate nursing program is ranked No. 127 in the nation while the graduate physical therapy program is ranked No. 99, according to U.S. News and World Report.[44]

College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesEdit

The College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences includes the School of Criminology and Justice Studies, as well as signature programs including sound recording technology, music business, peace and conflict studies, security studies and more. The College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is the largest college at UMass Lowell and offers 24 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and houses seven centers and institutes, including the Kerouac Center for Public Humanities, named for writer Jack Kerouac, a Lowell native.[45]

College of EducationEdit

Cumnock Hall - University of Massachusetts Lowell

The Graduate School of Education offers master's and doctoral degree programs and an undergraduate minor. The school includes 13 tenure-track faculty members and four clinical faculty members.[46] The school has a 100 percent pass rate on the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure. The online graduate education program is ranked No. 68 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.[44]

William J. and John F. Kennedy College of SciencesEdit

The William J. and John F. Kennedy College of Sciences has six departments: Biological Sciences; Chemistry; Computer Science; Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Mathematical Sciences; and Physics.[47] Originally the UMass Lowell College of Sciences, the college was renamed in honor of two alumni, John F. Kennedy '70 and William J. Kennedy '54, in 2015.[48]

Research centers associated with the college include the New England Robotics Validation and Testing Center (NERVE), one of the nation's premier robotics research, testing and training facilities.[49] Computer Science professor and NERVE director Holly Yanco is currently collaborating with Northeastern University professors Taskin Padir and Robert Platt in developing NASA's Valkyrie robot to research advancements in cutting-edge humanoid robotics.[50]

The graduate chemistry program is ranked No. 148 and the graduate physics program is ranked No. 131 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.[44]


Total R&D expenditure was $72.3 million in 2018.[51]

Labs and Research InitiativesEdit

  • Advanced Biophotonics Laboratory
  • Advanced Composites Materials & Textile Research  
  • Advanced Computation and Telecommunications
  • Advanced Computing & Networking Systems
  • Advanced Electronics Technology
  • Advanced Materials
  • Astronomical Observatory
  • Center for Autism Research and Education (CARE)
  • Baseball Research Center
  • Massachusetts Biomanufacturing Center
  • Biomanufacturing Science & Technology
  • Biomedical Terahertz Technology Center
  • Cancer Treatment, Tissue Regeneration
  • Children & Families
  • Climate Change Initiative
  • Combustion Lab
  • Center for Community Research and Engagement
  • Computer Machine/Human Intelligence, Networking & Distributed Systems
  • Data Analytics
  • Emerging Technologies to Protect SOLDIERS  
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Center for Gerontology Research & Partnerships
  • Health Assessment  
  • Human-Robot Interaction
  • Center for International Security & Forensics Education & Research
  • Materials Characterization
  • Medical Device Development
  • Medical Physics
  • Nanomanufacturing Center
  • Neuroscience
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Nuclear Security & Safeguards
  • Peace & Conflict Studies Institute
  • Photonics
  • Photonics, Electromagnetics & Nanoelectronics
  • Printed Electronics
  • Center for Program Evaluation
  • Population Health
  • Protective Fabrics
  • Center for Public Opinion
  • Radiation Laboratory
  • New England Robotics Validation & Experimentation Center
  • Lowell Center for Space Science & Technology
  • Structural Dynamics & Acoustic Systems
  • Submillimeter-Wave Technology
  • Sustainable Production
  • Terrorism & Security Studies
  • Toxics Use Reduction Institute
  • Center for Wind Energy
  • Center for Women & Work
  • Workplace Health

Research CentersEdit

  • Center for Asian American Studies
  • Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace
  • Raytheon-UMass Lowell Research Institute

Engagement CentersEdit

  • Stella and Jack Kerouac Center for the Public Humanities
  • Tsongas Industrial History Center

Seed CenterEdit

  • Biomedical Terahertz Technology Center

University rankingsEdit

University rankings
Forbes[54] 418[52]
U.S. News & World Report[55] 152
Washington Monthly[56] 170[53]
Times[59] 165[57]
U.S. News & World Report[60] 959[58]

U.S. News & World Report ranks UMass Lowell No. 152 on its top-tier National Universities list in the Best Colleges of 2016. UMass Lowell is one of only six institutions to advance in the standings every year since 2010 and the university's five-year, 27-spot gain in the ranking for that timeframe is the second-fastest in the nation.[61] U.S. News & World Report also named UMass Lowell No. 78 in the top public universities and second among public universities in Massachusetts.[61] Washington Monthly ranked UMass Lowell No. 170 nationally for 2014, representing a 24-spot jump from 2013.[62][63] Forbes ranked UMass Lowell No. 176 among research universities and No. 465 overall. University Ranking by Academic Performance for 2016-2017 ranks university as No. 197 in the country.[64]

UMass Lowell is known for having one of the highest returns on investment (ROI) in the country for its graduates. Forbes ranked UMass Lowell as the 10th best value among all universities and colleges nationwide for 2013 and fourth-best value among non-military academies.[65] UMass Lowell is one of just 75 institutions in the nation whose graduates have a 30-year net ROI of more than $1 million. found that UMass Lowell provides the 10th best ROI among 437 public universities in the U.S. and 50th out of 1,060 colleges and universities for 2013.[66] PayScale also ranked UMass Lowell 40th in the Northeast Region for highest mid-career salary among graduates of state universities ($95,100) and 80th overall (tied with Boston College).[65]

UMass Lowell's Francis College of Engineering is ranked No. 140 in the country for graduate engineering programs, No. 122 in electrical engineering and No. 85 in computer engineering.

UMass Lowell's Manning School of Business is ranked No. 86 for its part-time MBA program while the undergraduate program is ranked in the top 100, according to U.S. News & World Report.[67]

UMass Lowell's Graduate School of Education is ranked No. 103 in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report.[68]

The university's Division of Online and Continuing Education has been recognized by the Online Learning Consortium (formerly the Sloan Consortium) for the quality in teaching and academics for its online programs. UMass Lowell offers 45 fully online graduate and undergraduate degree and certificate programs.[69]

UMass Lowell has been listed as one of the most underrated colleges in America on multiple occasions. In 2013, Business Insider named UMass Lowell as the "Most Underrated College in America". The 2015 edition has named UMass Lowell as the second-most underrated college in the U.S. behind NJIT.[70][71]

Distinguished ProfessorsEdit

The university annually selects a faculty member to be named Distinguished Professor.[72]

  • Susan Braunhut, Biological Sciences, 2008-2011
  • Kenneth Geiser, Work Environment, 2009-2012
  • Robert Giles, Physics and Applied Physics, 2010-2013
  • Regina Panasuk, Graduate School of Education, 2011-2014
  • Stephen McCarthy, Plastics Engineering, 2012-2015
  • Laura Punnett, Work Environment, 2013-2016
  • Pradeep Kurup, Civil Engineering, 2014-2017[73]
  • Holly Yanco, Computer Science, 2015-2018[74]
  • Robert Forrant, History, 2016-2019[75]
  • Joey Mead, Plastics Engineering, 2017-2020[76]
  • Meg Bond, Psychology[77][78]

Student lifeEdit

Student bodyEdit

Total enrollment for the 2017-2018 academic year is 18,316, including 1,891 students in online- and continuing education and 1,744 certificate and non-degree students.[1]

In-state enrollment represents 87.6 percent of undergraduates and 58.4 percent of graduate students. International students make up 3.7 percent of the undergraduate population and 17.6 percent of the graduate population. Students of color represent 33.8 percent of the total undergraduate population and 24.5 percent of the graduate population. The male-female ratio for undergraduates in 2017 was 64/36.[36] Total enrollment has increased 50 percent since 2007.

Student activitiesEdit

UMass Lowell mellophone player

UMass Lowell has more than 200 student-run organizations.[79] Of those, the seven largest are funded directly from the student activities fee (other registered student organizations have budgets granted through the Student Government Association). They are:

Greek lifeEdit

Greek life was banned from the university campus after a hazing in 1987, where a student suffered overheating when left with a sleeping bag over his head near a space heater. Greek life was returned to the campus in 2012.[80]



  • Alpha Sigma Tau
  • Alpha Omega (local sorority)
  • Kappa Delta Phi NAS (Regional Sorority)
  • Phi Sigma Rho(local sorority)


The Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell
LeLacheur Park, with the Merrimack River in the background, taken from the top of Fox Hall

UMass Lowell athletic teams compete in a variety of men's and women's sports in Division I. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, ice hockey, lacrosse, track and field, and soccer. Women's sports are basketball, cross country, lacrosse, track and field, field hockey, soccer, softball and volleyball. As of July 1, 2013, 14 of UMass Lowell's Division II teams moved up to Division I, joining the America East Conference. The River Hawks, with the exception of men's ice hockey, previously competed in the Northeast-10 Conference at the Division II level. Past champions include the 1988 men's basketball team, the 1991 men's cross country team, the men's ice hockey team (three times) and the field hockey team twice (2005, 2010). The 2010 field hockey team finished its season with a perfect 24-0 record.

The university's men's ice hockey team plays in the Hockey East Association and plays its home games at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. In 2013, the men's hockey team won the Hockey East regular-season and tournament championships and advanced to the NCAA Division I Championship "Frozen Four," all for the first time in the university's history.[81] The men's hockey team repeated as Hockey East champions in 2014 while advancing to the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship for the third straight year and sixth time overall. Goalie Connor Hellebuyck is the only Hockey East player to receive the league tournament's Most Valuable Player Award in two consecutive years, earning the honor in 2013 and 2014.[82]

The nickname "River Hawks" came about during the school's transition from the University of Lowell to UMass Lowell and was inspired by the campus's location along the Merrimack River. The University of Lowell's nickname was the Chiefs, which was abandoned in favor of the current name. A campus-wide poll was conducted for student input and final candidates included the Ospreys and the Raging Rapids, according to the Connector student newspaper.

Alumni and notable peopleEdit

Alumni activityEdit

In 2017, a total of 8,872 alumni were supporting UMass Lowell financially, contributing 11.4% of total giving to the university.[36]

Notable alumni and othersEdit

Notable people associated with the university include:


Adjunct Faculty PayEdit

The university, as with other universities in the United States has been criticized for its unequal pay of adjunct faculty when compared to regular staffed faculty. The university has been resistant to adjunct faculty unions.[83]

Sexual HarassmentEdit

A sexual harassment complaint against Associate Dean Oliver Ibe was settled by the University of Massachusetts Lowell for $49,300 and $25,700 in attorney's fees, for a combined amount of close to $75,000. The complaint was from a younger female staff member in 2017. Dean Ibe was not fired however, as has been the policy and practice of some other universities including Boston University, and instead had his title of Associate Dean removed. Ibe remains on the faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering, and in 2018 made a salary of $159,893. The University of Massachusetts Lowell has issued several public statements to a petition from faculty and staff to have Ibe removed from the campus, but this has not amounted to any change in policy.[84] In May 2019, students protested, calling for Ibe's removal.[85][86]

See alsoEdit


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  8. ^ Hudon, Paul (November 15, 2004). Lower Merrimack: The Valley and Its Peoples (1st ed.). American Historical Press. pp. 186–191. ISBN 1-892724-44-8.
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  29. ^ [1] Lowellsun (12-15-2015) Received on 10-3-2016
  30. ^ [2] The Boston Globe (07-06-2016) Received on 10-03-2106
  31. ^ Business, Boston (16 April 2019). "University of Massachusetts sells 34-acre campus in Chelmsford for $3.245 million".
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