The Center for Science and Innovation's ribbon cutting is scheduled for Oct. 4.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Although most of the students left college for the summer, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has been busy and changing over the last few months — and the Board of Trustees and others are impressed.
"I think the look and feel of MCLA is very different," said Trustee Chairman Tyler Fairbank at the MCLA Executive and Fiscal Affairs committees meeting on Thursday morning. "So, it's an exciting time."
The largest expansion — at 40,000 square feet — is the Center for Science and Innovation. The official ribbon cutting for the center takes place on Oct. 4, about two years after it broke ground
Although the $40 million science center's construction was covered by a state bond, the building's equipment and furniture pricetag of $1.2 million fell onto the college, as well as did the $2.1 million for the new facilities building, slated to begin construction soon at the former Shapiro & Sons on Ashland Street and completed for December.
Initially the plan was to take out a loan to cover the costs, but Vice President of Administration and Finance James Stakenas said, instead, college resources will be used to pay for the costs, limiting spending power in the short term but saving a "couple $100,000" in the long run.
To address this spending, Trustee James Clemmer said the operating accounts were all reduced 5 percent, a move to save about $400,000.
In addition, the state, which appropriated $14.7 million to the school, spent $75,000 on the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center and Gallery 51. Previously, the college used its resource fund for it.
"It's about trying to instill good practices as we're going into the year... because we're opening a new building and we're going to be opening another new building," said Grant. "We just have to make sure we're going through the year wisely and carefully, reducing on one side because we're increasing on another."
The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the approximate $27 million budget for fiscal 2014, an increase of $1.6 million from the previous year's.
Public Safety Director Joseph Charon poses wearing his new uniform.
In other business, campus police officers also have a new look and more gear.
The officers, now donning a lighter, more comfortable dark blue uniform, will have computers installed in their cruisers, allowing them access to information related to the college, criminal history reports, vehicles and dispatch reports.
Grant said the cruiser computers were matched by a donation from a supporter of public safety.
Public Safety Director Joseph Charon also said all the officers completed the required training and the force received its Massachusetts State Police Certification. The training involved law, use of force, mental health, campus safety and security, and firearms.
"That's significantly because prior to December of last year they have not evaluated us related to firearms. So that's evidence that we've completed necessary training and standards by us to carry firearms in a professional manner."
Charon discussed the fair share of challenges last year, including the gas leak, weather incidents and the bomb threat.
"Some of the things we recognize is that prior training and planning are key to those outcomes," Charon said, but said there's always more training that can be done for improvements.