The University of Massachusetts system wants to hear from PR firms in a bid to shape public perceptions of its educational and research accomplishments.

The Amherst-based institution, which also includes campuses in Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and Worcester, released an RFP on June 12 to develop a PR strategy and plan for the system, prepare and handle media communications, pitch story ideas and support campus communications operations, among other tasks.

Over the objections of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, UMassí trustees on June 6 approved a 4.9 percent tuition increase for the fall, despite a boost in state funding. In-state tuition will climb from $11,901 to to $12,481 for undergrads.

Enrollment headcount system-wide in fall of 2010 topped 68,000 with more than 17,600 employees, and the systemís R&D budget surpassed $542M that year. Its Dartmouth-based law school earned national accreditation this month after an eight-year push.

John Kennedy, a former ACLU PR hand, was named vice chancellor of university relations in late 2010.

The university system plans a year-long PR contract with two options years.

Finalists will be asked to present in Boston in late July.

Proposals are due July 9. View the RFP at