In March of 1958, an Audit of State Needs recommended the establishment of a community college system in Massachusetts to address the need for more diversity and access to higher education in the Commonwealth.
This recommendation, adopted by the legislature on August 1, 1958, also served as the foundation for suggesting the locations of the colleges around the state. A newly formed Board of Regional Community Colleges established nine of the fifteen Community Colleges within a five-year period, beginning with Berkshire Community College in 1960.
In the years between 1965 and 1975, three additional community colleges were formed after a new master plan was put into action in 1965. This master plan projected the future need for community colleges by taking into account demography, economic and social climate and the role these institutions should play in effecting progress in the state. Three more community colleges have opened their doors since this time.
Within the system of Massachusetts’ public higher education, the Community Colleges open pathways to baccalaureate education, to jobs, and career advancement. Their broad mission encompasses degree and certification programs, training for business and industry, serving as a resource for solving community problems, and enriching the quality of people’s lives. Rooted in their communities, these colleges are open-admission institutions dedicated to serving an academically, economically, and culturally diverse population.
An educated workforce is the Commonwealth’s greatest natural resource. The growing industries that Massachusetts must attract and support require a workforce with the skills needed to manage technology, think critically, and adapt to changing demands. The Community Colleges are the main training resources positioned to provide the training opportunities that move unemployed workers into the workplace and current workers into more demanding and rewarding positions.
As Adopted by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education in 1999
The fifteen Massachusetts Community Colleges offer open access to high quality and affordable academic programs, including associate degree and certificate programs. They are committed to excellence in teaching and learning and provide academic preparation for transfer to four-year institutions, career preparation for entry into high demand occupational fields, developmental coursework and lifelong learning opportunities.
Community colleges have a special responsibility for workforce development and through partnerships with business and industry, provide job training, retraining, certification, and skills improvement. In addition, they assume primary responsibility, in the public system, for offering developmental courses, programs and other educational services for individuals who seek to develop the skills needed to pursue college-level study or enter the workforce.
Rooted in their communities, the colleges serve as community leaders, identifying opportunities and solutions to community problems and contributing to the region’s intellectual, cultural and economic development. They collaborate with elementary and secondary education and work to ensure a smooth transition from secondary to post-secondary education. Through partnerships with baccalaureate institutions, they help to promote an efficient system of public higher education.
The community colleges offer an environment where the ideas and contributions of all students are respected. Academic and personal support services are provided to ensure that all students have an opportunity to achieve academic and career success. No eligible student shall be deprived of the opportunity for a community college education in Massachusetts because of an inability to pay tuition and fees.