A subcommittee of the University of Massachusetts board of trustees has approved a $3.1 billion, 5-year capital plan for new construction, renovation and upgrades on all of the system's five campuses.

The plan calls for new science labs, dorms and athletic facilities on campuses stretching from Boston to the Berkshires. And about a third of the money is going to renovations.

UMass spokesman Bob Connolly says many of the buildings haven't been updated since the '70s and '80s and the university has suffered as a result. So, he says, the presidents, trustees and chancellors decided to ramp up construction over the past decade.

"So at UMass Amherst, for one example, you have the first new dorms since WWII, a new student recreation center, a new Commonwealth college going up right now and many new improvements."

Connolly says UMass brings in half a billion dollars in research funding annually, and new facilities are needed to sustain that kind of investment.

"We’ve built a major new science facility at UMass Amherst that’s opened its doors several years ago, but now a sibling science facility is going up next door. UMass Boston has a science center being built right now. UMass Lowell has a technology center going up and that’s part and parcel of attracting faculty and conducting research which is also essential to the state’s innovation society," he says.

The new capital plan proposes funding through university revenues, borrowing, private donations and state support.

Connolly says UMass has already spent $1 billion in construction over the past 10 years. Of that, 15 percent was financed by the state. The new $3.1 billion program anticipates a near doubling of the state's share. Connolly says the University has received positive initial responses from the governor and Legislature on the financing plan. The capital plan goes to the full board of trustees for a final vote on Sept. 19.