Mayor Daniel Bianchi and state Sen. Benjamin Downing were on hand to congratulate the two schools on their agreement.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The county's two public higher educational institutes signed a pact Tuesday morning to break down the barriers keeping residents from earning a business degree.
Berkshire Community College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts are teaming up to offer a seamless transition from BCC's associate business degree to MCLA's bachelor's and master's degrees at the new downtown Pittsfield location.
The goal is to eliminate travel time and confusion in the transfer process, allowing those who may have work or child-care barriers holding them back.
"It's very strategic to have our students go through their associate, bachelor and master degrees and stay in Berkshire County," William Mulholland, BCC's vice president of community education and workforce development, said.
For businesses, the agreement creates a pipeline of students staying and working in the county, according to Berkshire Chamber of Commerce President Michael Supranowicz. There is an emerging need for educated workers in Pittsfield and this creates the market of employees, he said.
"A college degree opens doors," Supranowicz said.
Monica Joslin, MCLA's dean of academic affairs, said the signing is "just another example of offering opportunities to the county."
For Stuart Chase, CEO of 1Berkshire, the increased number of educated workers will help the county attract new businesses. He said that globally, there is a lack of educated workers and having a surplus in the county will help the economy.
BCC President Ellen Kennedy, 1Berkshire CEO Stuart Chase, BCC Vice President William Mulholland and Charles Kaminski, BCC's dean of academic affairs for business, science, mathematics and technology, joined for the announcement.
BCC President Ellen Kennedy compared the merger to a wedding, saying this is a start of a growing relationship at the new center.
The Conte Education Center, in the Silvio O. Conte Federal Building on Center Street, opened as a shared learning space between the two schools in October. The center opened with 12 additional classes and five workforce development courses.
"We will continue to find ways to work closely together," Kennedy said.
The business classes will be scheduled in the mornings and afternoon to help service those students.
Charles Kaminski, BCC's dean of academic affairs for business, science, mathematics and technology, said South County will particularly benefit because those students no longer have to drive to either North Adams or Westfield to pursue a bachelor's degree.
"It's really a win-win for a lot of the students and the county in general," Kaminski said.
Also in attendance was state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, and Mayor Daniel Bianchi.
"It is going to help those students at the greatest risk see what's possible," Bianchi said.
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