It’s an exciting new academic year at MCLA. Students are busy moving in and many projects are underway. The following article on iberkshires is very informative about the upcoming year.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is ending a bustling summer but the work — and the pace — isn’t going to slow down soon.
“If you thought this disruption was something just wait,” said President Mary Grant to the staff, faculty, students and guests gathered in the barely completed dining room in the Amsler Campus Center on Tuesday morning for the annual opening breakfast.
The “ongoing, moveable construction festival” that’s been transforming some major areas of the campus will continue into 2013, said Grant, who joked it would “honor my commitment to make your life crazy.”
The building spree really started nearly four years ago with renovations to the Berkshire Towers. In addition to the renovations in the 40-year-old Campus Center, the college moved public safety to Ashland Street and facilities will be moving into the former Shapiro & Son building once that work is complete.
The biggest project starts this fall with a groundbreaking on Oct. 14, at 1 p.m., for the new science center; after that, Bowman Hall gets a makeover. In between, there’s work eyed for the library, a new floor’s been installed in the gym and classrooms are being carved out in the Conte Federal Building to give the college a major presence in downtown Pittsfield.
Student-athletes are ready for another champion season but the college’s ongoing accomplishments aren’t just physical.
Grant announced MCLA is one of 18 higher education institutions to receive a competitive grant through the state Performance Incentive Fund today. Part of the state’s Vision Project, the college will receive $150,000 toward implementing an initiative helping freshmen successfully complete their first three semesters, key to staying on track to graduation.
The college continues with its programs to better integrate freshman students into the campus, and all students into the community, including through community service learning projects, and participation with state and federal initiatives. MCLA will also be sending its first group of students to Shanghai, China, for a semester, deepening the relationships its established with Hebei University and Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade.
“This is not new stuff we’re doing,” said Grant. “This has been faculty led work for at least 7,8 , 9, 10 years. This is good work and I think we’re dong better all the time.”
The college and foundation also completed a successful fund drive, raising $10.4 million to support student travel, lecture series, professorship of education endowment and other activities. A campaign to support the arts, humanities and sciences on campus — buildings, research, scholarships, etc. — is under way.
State Reps. Gailanne Cariddi and Paul Mark were among speakers that included board of trustees President Stephen Crowe, Mayor Richard Alcombright, the presidents of the union locals, student leaders, Berkshire Chamber President Michael Supranowicz and state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing.
But alongside the arrival of some 500, diverse new students from across Massachusetts and from 20 states, lies the continuing funding challenges faced by higher education.
A number of speakers at the breakfast, including state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, and leaders of the college’s public union, touched on the difficulties and challenges facing not only colleges but their employees.
“If the rest of the state simply saw what we were doing in this corner of the commonwealth then we would support public ed at the levels we ought to,” said Downing. “That’s going to continue to be the case that we make thanks to your good efforts.”
Grant described it as a “precipitous up-and-down cycle” that’s found the state university system in the down cycle.
“There’s going to be an increased need, at least 68 percent of all new jobs to come online are going to need require at least a BA or better,” said Grant. “It’s not just about preparing students for the future in terms of work, it’s about the ability to engage in a democratic society … the funding to back up that work is essential.”