Leaders at the 15 community colleges across Massachusetts made decisions months ago to move the vast majority of classes online this fall, a step that they said gave them ample time to prepare for the unusual academic year that’s about to unfold. Now, as many bachelor’s degree programs announce similar shifts, community colleges find themselves in a new position as the calculus behind where to attend higher education shifts.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our community, and our city and state will be rebuilding for years to come. Yet, the pandemic has allowed RCC and all community colleges to remain firm in their open-access missions and better positioned to serve a larger, more diverse population of students. Regardless of circumstance, community colleges will always offer a quality, affordable education to anyone who wants one.
Today, historic racial discrimination still has lasting consequences, and its effect continues to impede some students from continuing to higher education. While community colleges work to combat this, they are not immune to the systemic structures of oppression and racism that plague our country. Yet, they have democratized education by making it more accessible to people barred from education, the poor, the underserved, immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities.
Even in the face of COVID-19, Berkshire Community College, like other community colleges across the commonwealth, pivoted in the spring to ensure our students succeeded in pursuing their studies. The college made investments in faculty professional development and technology infrastructure to ensure our fall classes could be held in the safest, most accessible way while ensuring successful learning outcomes.
Join MACC Director Tom Sannicandro this Tuesday, June 16, at 11:30 AM as he continues this weekly series with a conversation on the current needs of the healthcare industry, and how the community colleges can help rebuild the Commonwealth’s economy.
While most students at the many private, four-year colleges in Greater Boston will resume their studies this fall in one form or the other, that is not a guarantee at Bunker Hill, the largest community college in the state. Like Brea, many have lost jobs, family members, or housing as a result of the pandemic. Others lack a quiet place to study or a laptop and Wi-Fi. If circumstances become too difficult, they might never return.
Higher education is often seen as the great equalizer, but we know that there are great disparities in success rates among different student groups. While people of color are entering higher education at the highest rates that they ever have, not all are completing.
A primary indication of a strong community is the value placed on education even while experiencing the throes of a crisis. The value of community college, therefore, is now more apparent than ever as we weather the economic impact from COVID-19.
As HCC, the oldest two-year college in Massachusetts, prepares to enter its 75th anniversary year in 2021, we are facing a crisis like no other in modern history, a global pandemic that has upended all our lives and strained all our resources. In this, we are not alone.
Holyoke Community College has received $7.5 million from a foundation established by the late Elaine Nicpon Marieb, a longtime faculty member, alumna, bestselling textbook author and Northampton native.
It’s the largest donation in HCC’s 74-year history and could be the largest donation ever received by a community college in Massachusetts.